Saturday, August 18, 2007

Interview with Zakiyaa

The fourth of an ongoing series of interviews profiling EtsyVeg members.
Interview by Jeanette of vesselsandwares and vegandish
Meet Zakiyaa...aka Kathryn

I am totally fascinated with fabric and sewing. I have a sewing machine and a huge stash of fabric. One day they will join forces, I swear. But until then I will continue to drool over the bags of Zakiyaa. They are unique and practical. Well-constructed and beautiful. Better yet, she loves to use recycled fabrics. What could be better?

Q. Where does the name Zakiyaa come from?
A. Zakiyaa is a female arabic name, it means pure. My name, Kathryn, means pure as well. So that is where the connection was made. I think it is a really original and beautiful name for a label, and I felt that it would stick out and grab people's attention.

Q. Where do you get inspiration for your bag designs? What/Who are some of your influences?

A. I mostly get inspiration from the fabrics I use. I'll buy a fabric and feel that it would look best in a certain type of bag. So I might come up with an entirely new design just for that fabric, and then end up using that design several other times. I am not influenced by any designers or by any one person. I tend to try to make bags that are original - I try to come up with bag designs I haven't seen, and that I know will be practical.

Q. Which comes first...the design for the bag or the fabric for the bag? (Does one influence the other?)
A. As I said above, usually the fabric dictates the design. But I have quite a library of designs as it is already, so sometimes I decide I want to make a certain bag design, and I look through my stash to find just the right fabric for what I have in mind.

Q. I love that you use recycled fabrics. What is the weirdest thing you have used to make a bag?
A. I don't think I have ever used anything that weird. I mainly use pants, like jeans or corduroy bought at thrift stores (or that my husband won't wear anymore haha). My mother in law once gave me a set of table-clothes made of pink corduroy that I made a cute purse out of.

Q. I have a stash of fabric sitting in my closet. I have very basic sewing skills that I never use. For a basic, beginner project what would you recommend? Do you have a good instruction book/website to recommend to beginners?
A. Well, I am a self-taught seamstress. I learned the basics when I was younger, but basically taught myself how to make purses without even looking at pre-made patterns or anything of the sort. And then I also taught myself pattern making (though I would like to take an actual class on pattern making in the future). I feel bad for admitting this, but I have yet to make myself any clothes. I certainly plan to, and I bought an incredible book called Sew-U that is really the ultimate book for someone who is just starting out. It even comes with 3 patterns. That is great for clothes. There is also, which has wonderful message boards where people post lots of fun patterns. I would highly recommend checking it out!

Q. What kind of bag do you carry?
A. I currently carry a white vinyl Liza Purse (similar to this black one [see photo]) but I am about to create a new design with a zippered top closure, and I think I am going to make a prototype for myself with a houndstooth fabric.

Q. Are you a full-time designer/creator? Do you have a "day-job"? If so, what do you do?
A. I do not have a day job. Zakiyaa is my only gig, but it is more of a part time job, in that I do not spend full time hours sewing every week.

Q. How long have you been on Etsy?
A. I joined in February 2006.

Q. Is Etsy a large portion of your business?
A. It is currently the only place I sell my bags. I started making bags as presents for friends and family, and didn't give much thought to selling them. A friend told me I should try to sell them, and directed me to Etsy. I made a few more bags and after a few months realized how much I loved making and selling bags and my business was born!

Q. How addicted are you to Etsy?
A. According to my husband, quite a bit. I browse Etsy a lot, and do visit the forums on a daily basis. But I am not addicted, I swear! haha My husband actually works for Etsy as a computer engineer, so most days it is not uncommon to find us each on our computers doing something Etsy related!

Q. Do you have other crafty/artsy skills?
A. I never considered myself artsy in any way shape of form. Sewing and starting this little business has been a real blessing because I have felt like I needed an artistic outlet for a long time. The only other so-called skills I have would be writing (I used to write a vegan zine actually) and photography.

Q. What would you like to try to make, that you haven't already? What is your dream project?
A. I really want to start making my own clothes. I need to take the time to teach myself, or find someone willing to give me private lessons. Sure, I could buy a pattern and follow it, but I would like to be able to create clothes from scratch. I don't really have a dream project as far as my bag business goes, but I would like to have maybe one person sewing for me one day. I have had a lot of offers for consignment and I find myself unable to keep up. Getting my bags in a couple stores across the country would be really fantastic.

Q. How long have you been vegan/vegetarian?
A. I have been vegan for 7 years, and was vegetarian for one year before that.

Q. What is your favorite vegan/vegetarian store/restaurant/blog/website?
A. One of my favorite websites is, it has an incredible collection of vegan recipes. I use it all the time, and I even post recipes once in a while. As for restaurants, I have been to some incredible places all over the continent. Here are some of my favorites. In Montreal, Canada, Aux Vivres - all vegan international food. In Boston, Buddha's Delight - all vegan fake meat and other yummy chinese food. In Seattle, Arayas - all vegan thai food, including an all you can eat lunch buffet.. one of my favorite restaurants of all time for sure. Also in Seattle, Mighty-O Donuts - all vegan, all organic delicious donuts.

Lizzy, one happy dog, in Alleghany State Park.