LIFESTYLE - INTERVIEW
Thursday, February 21, 2019
LIFESTYLE - INTERVIEW
by Mehmet Kaplan
It's important to observe the environment for artists who draw or paint. Something can instantly inspire them, and they do not want to miss it. However, it is very difficult to provide a suitable solution for drawing on the go, and the effort to create outside takes a lot of time that could be used to draw instead. That's when Darren Yeow started designing a bag that would allow him to work outdoors instead of sitting behind his desk. He needed a bag to store his art gear that also head functionality of a table. After six months of designing and prototyping, the Etchr Art Satchel appeared. I talked with Yan Zhu, Co-Founder of Etchr Lab, about Etchr products.
Yan, before talking about Etchr Lab, I would like to learn more about you. Who are Simon Frisby and Yan Zhu?
Simon grew up in Adelaide and currently lives in Melbourne, Australia. He likes surfing and travelling. I grew up in China and currently live in Perth, Australia. I am a foodie and also enjoy travelling and meeting with new people.
When did you meet? How did you decide to establish Etchr Lab?
Simon and I met at the University of Adelaide studying commerce in Australia. We both started a career in professional service firms. Simon worked in corporate advisory for Lazard and I worked as a management consultant for The Boston Consulting Group. We always thought we would do something entrepreneurial one day. The moment came when Simon met with Darren who was the designer for our carry range. He then introduced Darren to me and we launched the Kickstarter campaign for our new Etchr Art Satchel raising ~US$330,000 thanks to our generous supporters.
Etchr Team- Mina Roy, Yan Zhu, Ania Marcos, Simon Frisby
Could you tell us about Etchr Lab and your team?
Yan Zhu, Co-founder / Strategy and Operation Director, brings expertise in helping develop company‘s vision and strategy, sets group and team KPIs and oversees the daily operations including manufacturing, warehousing and logistics and customer service.
Simon Frisby, Co-founder / Sales and Marketing Director, in charge of business development, sales and marketing strategy for both online and offline channel. Develops and grows overall distribution and partnership network and liaises with designers to incorporate feedback into our product design process.
Ania Marcos, Community Engagement manager, liaises with art community influencers and partners to plan marketing campaigns and engage with our customer and fan community. Manages content creation for our social media channels.
Mina Roy, Public Relations manager, leads media relations activities through a clear communication plan, media kits, press interviews to articulate our company’s mission and value to the art community. Supports Ania in her role.
Darren Yeow, Co-founder / Carry Range Designer, responsible for the overall design and quality control process for our Carry range. Liaises with raw material suppliers and manufacturers.
Stephanie Law, Palette Range Designer, responsible for the overall design and quality control process for our Palette range. Liaises with raw material suppliers and manufacturers.
Erwin Lian, Sketchbook Range Designer, responsible for the overall design and quality control process for our Sketchbook range. Liaises with raw material suppliers and manufacturers.
How did you come up with the Etchr Art Satchel idea? Which problem triggered you?
Our co-founder Darren who is a concept artist was tired of sitting behind his desk all day and wanted a carry bag with all his art gears to help him draw outside to source more inspiration and capture ideas at the perfect moment. Frustrated with no available options in the market, he spent six months cutting, sewing and testing with the first generation specialist art satchel brought to life on Kickstarter in 2014.
Could you tell us a bit more about the Etchr bags? What are the advantages of using them?
Regular bags just don't cut it for artists - they have too many specific needs that are not addressed. Our Satchel range all work with camera tripods and can be converted into a ‘mobile studio’. Their modular design allows artists to optimise their own configurations on the go. They are water-proof as well.
How many different satchel designs do you offer? How often do you add a new design to your collection?
At the moment we offer three satchels and one field case under the carry range. We plan to introduce one or two products every six months expanding beyond just the carry range for artists including the mini-palette and sketchbook range which will be introduced in the first half of 2019.
Besides satchels, Etchr Lab offers another smart solution for artists. Could you tell us about Etchr Mirror and its features?
The Etchr Mirror works with an App which allows people to trace any image/photo from their digital devices onto paper, wood, canvas and etc in different sizes and formats. The Mirror is very light and easy to carry without the need for any power connection.
Etchr Field Case
Do you use your own designs in your daily life? What do you enjoy most about using Etchr Lab products?
Most of our team members are artists. Mina and Ania actually backed our Art Satchel on Kickstarter originally. They have enjoyed the flexibility and the convenience of the Art Satchel organising all art supplies and keeping them together on the go.
Do you have any new designs on the drawing table? What should we expect?
We would like to reduce the weight of our Satchel in the next generation which has been the most common feedbacks provided by our artist users. We plan to create a new mould for the drawing board and reduce its weight by another 30 - 40% but this process might take a while before we come up with the best solution.
Etchr Satchel and Etchr Field Case
Social media has become an integral part of daily life. What do you think about the power of social media for innovative products?
Social media plays a very important part for us not only in raising brand awareness but also in engaging and collecting feedback from our community so we can design and create the most relevant products for them. With the increasing penetration rate of the internet and usage of social media, small brands like us can access a global audience just as easily as major brands and we actually have better engagement from the art community than some of the large global brands do on social media.
How can our readers follow Etchr Lab?
They can sign up to our mailing list on our website: https://etchrlab.com or follow us on our Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/etchr_lab) or Facebook accounts.
How can our readers buy Etchr Lab products?
We sell directly online worldwide through our website with free shipping. We also have distributors/retailers in many countries (https://etchrlab.com/apps/store-locator)
What is next for you?
Our goal over the next 3 to 5 years is to have a much broader product range with more independent product designers and broader global retail network. The long term vision is to be known as the brand that supports and partners with independent designers to bring innovative products to life for the creative community. Ultimately, we would like to build a better ecosystem to benefit and attract the buy-in from all the stakeholders in the creative community, independent designers, distributors, retailers and end customers, through a more collaborative, transparent and accessible product design process.
Anything you would like to add that I haven’t asked?
We’d love to hear from more artists/designers who understand the day-to-day pain-points faced by those in the process of art making and have brilliant new ideas to address them.
Thank you Yan for your time.