FK talks to Maya and Sam, from Tassie label Hideyo.
Tell us about Hideyo, and where the name originates from.
Hideyo is a Japanese name, and it’s Maya’s mother’s name who was a very talented and creative person. We like the name because Maya’s mum and Japanese design in general are strong influences on our work.
What are your individual backgrounds and how did you start working together?
In terms of study, at uni Maya studied sociology, anthropology and Japanese, and Sam studied sustainability science and Asian studies. Neither of us did art or design past school, but Maya in particular had an amazing art teacher at high school. Sam grew up on the Mornington Peninsula near Melbourne and Maya’s from Braidwood in southern NSW, and we met in Canberra while we each had three jobs (and Maya was still studying). After a while we decided we wanted a change, and after lots of thinking and some (very) spur of the moment decisions we ended up moving to Tassie to see what it would be like making stuff for a living. Besides the thought of ‘yeah why don’t we move and do something else’, it was all pretty sudden and random!
What inspired you to start your own label?
There were a few reasons I suppose. We felt like doing something of our own, being our own bosses, and earning our own living. We also discovered a shared love of making things, and a large overlap in aesthetic and taste (very handy!). Having made a start, we were then encouraged and inspired by so many people in our new community. We had no idea when we moved, but the Meander Valley area where we live has a really strong and supportive artistic community. So we’re pretty lucky we chose such a great place to live.
What were some of the challenges you faced starting your own business?
Ok, to get it out of the way at the start – money. We’d love our art to be completely separate… oh well! For a good while we lived pretty simply. Rural Tassie rent sure helps! Now we’re part way through the 12 months of the government NEIS program which has worked really well for us. Choosing what to make and what not to make has always been tricky. And having confidence our things and in ourselves (for example when we have stalls at markets or approach galleries and shops) was a big hurdle. Self discipline was another big one. Working for ourselves from home sounded romantic, but it’s actually really hard work. Unfortunately life can’t just be endless games of scrabble or cards! The transition from our products looking like handmade items to looking like classy, professionally finished handmade items is an ongoing one. It’s been a continual part of our business to improve all that, but seems to happen slowly and only bit by bit (still, looking back we cringe when we see our early stuff so we must have come a ways in that department!). Even before then, developing our skills has been just as much of a challenge. I guess you can only get good by continual practice, which is starting to kick on for us now. For example, Maya had only learnt how to use a sewing machine a couple of weeks before we approached our first shop! Our ethics also pose a big challenge. We want our business to reflect our attitudes towards environmental and social responsibility. Even just basic things like sourcing recycled paper business cards, or sweatshop free clothing that has style, they take so much time to find and research.
What do you love doing in Tassie when you’re not working?
Free time hasn’t come up all that often recently! But we have some bushwalks planned over the next little while, we live so close to beautiful mountains, forests and rivers. Sam’s keen to get back into playing more music after the recent making frenzy, and has a long list of kitchen adventures lined up (making cheddar cheese and croissants are the two at the top of the list). Maya is super keen to knit and sew a bunch of different clothing patterns. We also just bought a night frisbee (looks like a ufo when you turn the light on), so much fun! Oh and we also made a trip – an expensive one – to Kinokuniya bookshop when we were up in Sydney for Finders Keepers (which by the way was awesome, it went really well for us and we met some great people), so we have a few inspiring books to read as well.
What are you working on next?
There’s an exhibition coming up soon that we’re a part of, which is exciting, Objects of Design at the NEW Gallery at UTAS Newnham Campus (Launceston). It’s great to be able to put aside the things that make us money day to day and dream and create a bit more freely. Still brainstorming but we’re keen to let loose a bit on the kusudama (origami balls) we make and incorporate some printing and paper cuts. We’re also really keen to kick off some collaborations that have been schemed up, hopefully starting with Stuart and Chai from Pa-sawan clothing in Melbourne and Loz Abberton of Who Did That.