My name is Niina Aoki and I design, illustrate and make a variety of things for my business, “eeva margita”. I live in a leafy inner city suburb of Perth, WA with my partner Aaron and our Exotic Shorthair cat baby, Panko.
“eeva margita” started in 2010 after I was dissatisfied with my previous business venture centered on creating illustrations for children. I initially had my inspiration to create a new business when I was looking through old albums of my mother in her 20's. It was the 1970's and her clothes were beautiful and had such clean lines and a casual flair that really spoke to me. I decided to form my brand based upon this imagery and by combining my middle name and one of my mother's middle names, “eeva margita” was born. The business has now evolved into using my Finnish-Japanese background for inspiration and creating colourful, folksy jewellery, accessories, and paper goods.
Ever since I was able to hold a pencil, I've always been creative one way or another. In school I was always the go to person for drawings (especially bubble font!), I went to the library to find books about craft projects, and my mother taught me to sew. I even had a business orientated mind back then – my friend and I made little plush dolls and glittery stationery to sell at flea markets (although I don't remember selling any!). So it seems inevitable that I ended up where I am today. Even my day job is close to what I do. I work for a North Perth business called “Future Shelter”. They have a shopfront on Angove st where they make and sell homewares and bits and pieces for the lovely people in your life. When I'm at work I manage the shop front and help in the production and packaging of their products.
I've been a part of Montage Collective since it's conception and it's been fantastic to see it grow. When we first started out we didn't know what we were doing really and just went with the flow to have fun. It is still just as much fun but we've learned how to manage ourselves better and how to be a better shop every time we pop up somewhere. I love being a part of Montage as it helps satisfy my small dream of owning my own store and it's a great way of meeting Perth creative people.
A part of the creative process that comes easily is coming up with the initial idea. It's the execution that I sometimes struggle with. I'm a real perfectionist and when I come up with an idea I have a set image in my head of how it should look. So when my result doesn't match up, it can be frustrating. I usually find the best way to deal with it is to just leave it be and come back to it another day.
Inspiration is another part of the process which is both easy and difficult at the same time. In our computer orientated world, it's so easy to see beautiful pictures on the internet. Anything you could want to see, is right there at your finger tips. But sometimes it can be overkill and too stimulating to the point where my head feels so full of images that none of it is inspiring. To combat this problem I try to narrow my inspiration for a new product to a single theme such as cats or flowers. This way my brain can focus on the one thing and not get too overwhelmed.
I think handmade is really important, especially now as our society has become such throw away experts. Go into a chain store and it's full of mass produced things at bargain bin prices. There's no love or originality there. I'm not saying I don't ever buy from chain stores, but when I want something that's a little bit more special or I want to get somebody something that is truly unique, I look for handmade goods by small businesses. It lets the recipient know that you think they're really special and it's great to support small businesses who love what they do.