Quick Q+A with Lotus features local South African businesses in the new world for readers!
We welcome artist, entrepreneur Luzanne Warren from Avviare Bookish Art. You may have seen her art on the tote bags available on Lotus Bookstore! Luzanne’s love for reading and art helped her turn a passion project into a career in art. Read more about Luzanne and Avviare Bookish Art below:
Who is behind Avviare Bookish Art?
Luzanne: You know I hate this question. Whenever I was asked this during a job interview (tell us about yourself) I usually wind up either blabbering or coming up blank. So here we go…
If I have to introduce myself in a modern world words like digital artist and entrepreneur comes to mind, self-employed, future thinking, female. You know, all those hard hitting buzz words. But I’m basically a girl (well technically women – I’m turning thirty this year) who loves to read and enjoys creating artwork from these wonderful story worlds that helps me cope with a world where I never felt I fit in.
When I started this business, I never, ever thought it would bloom to this gorgeous passion project that it has become. I’ve always loved art and dreamed about pursuing a career in art, but was told at a young age that I don’t have enough talent to make it in the industry and should pursue other career opportunities. It took a lot to move past that in my life and put myself out there. It’s the most terrifying thing I have done to date.
In a little over 7 months of being a full time artist (yes this business is literally helping me put food on my table) I am now in the position to expand the team and give other aspiring artists the opportunity and the platform to start their careers. I want to help others by giving them an opportunity that I didn’t have. I can’t make all their roads easy, but I can help make the journey easier. And I feel it’s important to help these aspiring artists, to help the industry and to showcase amazing local talent. We have a social responsibility to help one another.
What made you want to start Avviare Bookish Art?
Luzanne: My husband is the owner and founder of Brew Etc. Coffee Company. He works in the speciality coffee industry. He has a background in Software development. Today Brew Etc. is almost three years old. He has been my inspiration to pursue my passion every day with everything in me. His dedication, perseverance and hard work has enabled us to both pursue our dreams without hesitation. He has been a shining example of you can do anything you set your mind to.
I am an avid Bookstagrammer, and would get lost in fan art of my favourite story world for days. And I think like most local booklovers I wasn’t able to afford international shipping rates on these gorgeous pieces. So I started drawing for myself.
Reading Caffeinated stemmed from my love for books and coffee. Avviare stemmed from my need to create. So when it came to starting Avviare, I drew most of my inspiration and strength from his fantastic example. He has been my biggest cheerleader in pursuing this dream, and has helped me built this business every step of the way. He helped me to see and develop the business behind the hobby.
Avviare translates from Italian to English meaning “to lead”, what made you choose Avviare Bookish Art as your name?
Luzanne: Well, technically Avviare translates to a lot of things in Italian, and when it came to choosing a company name I wanted it to be something with a deeper meaning. Now full disclosure, Google translate was my source for the translation, and I am in no way an expert in Italian.
Avviare means to start, begin, Initiate. When I was thinking about what to name my business all I could think about is wanting a fresh start. To hit reset and pursue my dream instead of other’s limited expectations of me. So after looking at a million different inspirational names, I started messing around on Google Translate and found Avviare. And it stuck. After talking to my husband about it, he said that he found it fitting. I’m starting a new journey, a new chapter, a new passion / dream. I am finally giving my dreams a beginning. And now it’s not only my dreams. I hope to help others start their dreams as well through collaboration partnerships.
What’s one of the best things you enjoy about Avviare Bookish Art and your industry?
Luzanne: Working in my Pj’s, drinking all the coffee and raiding my fridge daily. Just kidding. I actually have a very strict routine. My biggest pro is definitely the personal growth this industry offers.
My favourite and most challenging part is the amazing requests my clients approach me with. Before you think, what a thing to say! What I mean by this, is they push me out of my comfort zone. Not just artistically, but also with what I read. I prefer to actually read the books for which I create the art. I find that it helps me to better capture the atmosphere and intent. That being said, I am in no way an expert in many of these fandoms. These requests force me to continue to grow and push my boundaries and limitations. It’s never easy, but it’s always worth it. I’ve grown as an artist and business women the most during these requests and will forever be thankful for them. But as with all growth, it’s never 100% a pleasant experience, and often my craft drives me to confront many things in myself. It’s very therapeutic. I learn the most during these times.
What can people expect from Avviare Bookish Art in the future?
Luzanne: Oh so many great things are happening in the near future! With our recently launched online store the sky has become the limit. One of the things I am the most excited about is the collaboration partnerships with amongst others, the Bookshelf Experience. Lee is such a phenomenal and dynamic person and I enjoy working with her on this new range of products so much. The first of this collaboration range is the beautiful printed book sleeves, featuring quotes from your favourite fandoms. These sleeves are made to order and are available directly from The Bookshelf Experience .
Another project I am super excited about is like I mentioned above, expanding the artistic team. I won’t give away too much at this point as this is still in the pilot programme and we are still sorting out some of the finer details, but I am beyond excited for this. So you can expect more fantastic art in the near future.
What do you think is important to make an impact in the world or leave a lasting impression?
Luzanne: Oh wow, there are so many ways to answer this question. People and the world by extension are multi-faceted and there for there can’t be a singular right answer here. Everyone view’s impact or impression differently.
From a business side – Customer service. If this is one thing I wish I could share with the world it’s that people won’t remember what they bought from you, but they will remember how you made them feel and how you treated them. Every single customer is important, whether they are supporting you for the first time or for the 100th time. Everyone should be treated like they are important to your business. Because they are.
You’ll never be able to please everyone, but it’s important to be willing to learn and modify your behaviour to help everyone feel safe. We are all wired differently, value different things. We cannot judge or condemn one another for being different. In business so much more so. Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. I try to provide artwork is different styles to meet as much of the need that arises, but I have learned that keeping the client happy and loving the piece yourself doesn’t always go hand in hand. Which is partly why I want to expand the team. I don’t have to change who I am and how I work. I can give someone else a chance to meet that need. Dominating the market is impossible in this industry. You’ll burnout and sacrifice yourself and no one will even notice. So I would rather help someone else meet the needs in terms of products and styles that I know I can’t then try (and fail miserably) and wind up negatively impact this business. There is a place for everyone under the sun. We don’t have to destroy one another in order to survive.
From a social impact (big picture approach) – I think it’s important to know what you want your legacy to be. For me, I would want Avviare to be my legacy (or a part of it) so it can’t end with me. I want Avviare to be a start for so many other artists starting out and needing a place. Where they can gain experience and learn about the processes behind a business like this. Where they can find that art can be a plausible career choice. And learn how to effectively market and sell their own work. Because the truth is, it’s hard. Really Hard.
How can people show support for Avviare Bookish Art?
Luzanne: There are so many ways to support small businesses and start-ups. The biggest support will always be to buy something. Whether it’s a R10 sticker or a R600 collector’s box. It helps to keep the lights on. But money is tight, and we all have to make certain cuts in our life but would still love to show support, so I can share with you what I do, and have been doing for a while.
Visit the websites. Google picks up the stats and regular site and page visits will help identify shops as popular and the algorithms will eventually start highlighting them. Same goes for Facebook and Instagram. It gets flagged as interesting content and wind up being more discoverable. So site visits play a big role.
Hand in hand with the above is engagement. Comments of more than 4 words excluding emoji’s and shares are powerful. People are interested in what you are interested in. So the more you talk about it, the more others will as well. Think about it as digital word of mouth. Make sure you follow the social media pages and subscribe to the newsletters.
Reviews and Recommendations also go far, but be kind, if you don’t like what the business gave you don’t go out and destroy them all over the internet, send them an email and give them the opportunity to fix it first. Most of us are learning as we grow and mistakes happen. Small businesses don’t have Big corporate teams behind them to prevent all these issues.
Where can people connect with you if they’d like to know more about Avviare Bookish Art?
Instagram: Avviare Bookish Art
Facebook: Avviare Art
Society 6: Avviare Art
Red Bubble: Avviare Art
Lotus Bookstore: Tote Bags
Brew Etc. is on Facebook and Instagram too!
Excellent answers! Your love for art is definitely felt through your writing and beautiful designs! The sky is the limit and we look forward to your collaboration partnerships and projects. May your and your husband’s businesses continue to grow!
If you want to remember this Q+A, think:
Good Customer Service + Modify Your Behaviour + Know Your Legacy
PLEASE support Avviare Bookish Art and buy something, visit the site, engage with her online or leave a review/recommendation!