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Running a Cyanotype Business

How Zeynep and Özge built ZOOZ and make money with cyanotype prints

How did you start your journey into cyanotype, but most importantly, how did you transition from printing as a hobby, to building a successful business around a process from 1842?

Our journey began as two friends who met studying landscape architecture in 2017, both of us keen on handicrafts. Discussing how to extend our designer identities beyond our field led us to experiment with cyanotype, a familiar technique we hadn't considered for business. After getting the materials, we embarked on an extensive trial period, focusing on achieving the highest quality in our creations. The year 2021 was dedicated to experimenting with printing on various surfaces, especially fabrics, prioritizing clarity and color transition. Our early efforts in ensuring the durability of our prints laid the foundation for Zooz's success, driven not just by a desire to be liked but by a meticulous approach to our work. In our early twenties, we aimed to explore our potential and engage in creative production, which eventually evolved into a business, supported by a disciplined work routine.

How have you adapted the traditional cyanotype process to suit textile printing, and what challenges have you faced in ensuring consistency and durability of the prints on various types of fabric? From the start, we aimed to create wearable art, emphasizing quality and durability. Despite years of experience, unexpected outcomes still arise even when conditions seem perfect. Selecting the right fabric was crucial, and finding the ideal detergent formulation was particularly time-consuming. Yet, overcoming these challenges made the process more straightforward, underscoring our commitment to creating lasting art.

Can you describe your business model, especially how you've positioned your cyanotype clothing in the market? How do you differentiate your products in a market dominated by fast fashion?  Handmade products, distinct from fast fashion, have always captivated people with their unique designs and the effort behind them. Our products stand out due to their unique printing process and integration with nature. Without chasing widespread appeal, we focus on innovation, self-improvement, and enjoyment in our work, striving to offer technically pristine prints. Given the unique nature of your products, how do you educate and engage your customers about the value of cyanotype printed clothing and the slow fashion movement? How does the general public respond to such a unique process, especially with all the care and precautions that your product needs.

Viewing our products through a customer's lens, the value of slow fashion designs becomes apparent. Dressing reflects personality, leading some to prefer unique items over fast fashion. We take great pleasure in thinking about our customers' satisfaction, from design to delivery. Our cyanotype prints vary in blue tones due to slight exposure differences, which we transparently communicate to ensure customer satisfaction. We also provide detailed care instructions to extend the lifespan of our products.

What are the biggest challenges you face running a business that relies on a slow, handmade process? How do you address issues of scalability and efficiency without compromising the artisanal quality of your work?

Engaging in slow fashion with handmade items presents challenges, especially time-related ones. Yet, customer patience helps us overcome these hurdles. Behind every new design is intensive, meticulous work that may not be immediately visible. We prioritize product and print quality without compromise, valuing customer satisfaction in every aspect of our business.

Are there any photographic techniques or materials you're interested in exploring? Beyond cyanotype, we've explored other printing techniques like van dyke and gum bichromate, and we've dabbled in linoleum, screen printing, and tie-dye on fabric. Our current focus is on mastering Cyanotype before sharing others. We're always open to new experiences, motivated and excited by the endless possibilities. Chlorophyll printing is next on our list, and we're eager to dive into it soon.

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