The Getting To Know series features interviews with makers, artists, designers and small business owners at all different stages of their careers. I’m always interested in how other adventurers in the world of creative entrepreneurship run their businesses, get inspired and how they got started in the first place.
As a stationery lover, I’ve been a long time fan of Quill & Fox. Yas Imamura’s illustrated products are modern with a hint of vintage flair, clever with a decent dose of quirk and oh-so-lustworthy. Let’s get to know Yas…
Hi Yas! To start with, I’d love to know a little bit about you and your business.
I’m Yas Imamura, creator of Quill & Fox, an Oregon-based paper company. I grew up in the Philippines, moved here to study design and further a career in marketing. It was also how I met my now husband Andrew, the same person who got me back into illustration—a passion of mine that stuck through until I began college, until pressure to find a more “viable” career became a more pressing thing. I always loved art in story books and vintage illustration, which is why I’m eternally thankful to be able to make my own art and make a living out of it as well. I run the Quill & Fox shop from home with my Andrew who takes care of a lot of the day-to-day business operations. It’s been a great ride!
How did you get started as a stationery designer?
I started getting into the art of paper and stationery when we got married. I was eager to create something truly unique. It was such a fun process, choosing paper, creating illustrations and layouts that were much more personal, something people would like to keep as mementos.
What’s the story behind the name “Quill & Fox”?
I’ve always loved foxes; there’s always a mystery to them in folklores, and they are really beautiful creatures in the wild. I also grew up reading the Little Prince, and a quote from the fox has stuck to me since; “..here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
I wish I had more profound reason for Quill. It was just such a pretty and word; I adore the aesthetic anatomy of the letter Q. The meaning fit rather nicely too for being a stationery shop.
Where do you find inspiration for each new line of products?
I like sifting through old adages and idioms, there’s always a classic spirit to an old saying that you can constantly reinvent visually. It’s definitely a huge inspiration for me.
Do you have a favourite piece in your latest collection?
Right now, I really love our Typewriter Notepad, just the vibrant colors and the clever placement of the typewriter and the blank paper on top of it.
What does your typical work day look like?
We usually try to get all the orders out of the way. It can be hard to get creative and illustrate when there are little odds and ends that need to be dealt with first. Most of the day is spent on production, order processing and emails.
What do you love about running your own business?
I love that I work on my own time, elbow to elbow with my husband (he co-owns an animation company called What Now? Exactly! from home as well). I also enjoy dealing with customers directly, we’ve garnered a really supportive consumer base that appreciates small shops. I’m very thankful for them!
What do you find the hardest?
Keeping up with the rigid schedule of the industry can be hard, especially when it constitutes illustrating christmas in the middle of June. I just have to constantly find a way to get into the mood of things, no matter the season.
Your products are sold in shops big and small all around the world. Any advice for other makers on expanding into wholesale?
It’s important to have a clear set of guidelines and terms for your wholesale business and be absolutely friendly and helpful to your accounts. It goes a long way–I promise!
Do you have any secrets to balancing business and life while working from home?
That’s still a work in progress, even for me. Time managing yourself can be really challenging. I think it helps to have a regimen, something you can follow for a whole week that involves different areas of work and downtime. Don’t hesitate to kickback, have a day off in the middle of the week if your body and mind simply just need it. It’s one of the perks of being your own boss after all!
What does your ideal Saturday look like?
At this time of the year, it’s waking up in the morning to go to the Saturday Market, which is a lovely 10 minute walk from where we live. Have some arepas, a small picnic with the dog and hubby.
Who are some other creators/designers/makers that you love?
I love Alfred Mahlau, Roger Duvoisin, and Wes Anderson.
What’s your favourite social media platform?
This is quite decisively Instagram. I’m a visually driven person, so it was the most fun for me to use versus platforms like twitter, and facebook. The interface is much simpler, interaction is much more straightforward. It also doubles as a really inspiring visual grid when you follow really great IGers too.
Treat Yourself To Quill & Fox Stationery
Connect With Yas
Blog – Quill & Fox
Instagram – @quillandfox
Facebook – Quill & Fox
Twitter – @quillandfox