welcome To The One Thimble Blog
Today we’re chatting with Annie from Annie Zorzo Accessories. I met Annie in real life at the Bag Fanatics Retreat in 2016 (talk about a ‘fan girl’ moment) and learned so much from her.
What did you do before Annie Zorzo Accessories?
Immediately before I started AZA, I was working on various Human Resources projects for AMP, both in Sydney and then in London. In 2003, I was made redundant as the financial climate changed in the years leading up to the GFC. Instead of being re-deployed to another area of the business, I decided to take the opportunity to go back to University and study the design and manufacture of leather handbags at the London College of Fashion.
What is your inspiration for your Bag Designs?
It changes, but mostly it’s architecture as I feel there is a distinct link between buildings and handbags. Architecture is a space or collection of spaces we live in; and a bag contains “our home” when we’re moving around – the pockets are the rooms and the zips and flaps are doorways. Frank Gehry is one of my favourite architects, but I also love the work by Zaha Hadid. I get inspired by both the shapes and the materials they use. Often, it’s materials used that speak to me in a textural sense and inspire the smaller details within a bag design.
Picture: Frank Gehry Model (from above) of Peter B. Lewis Building, Cleveland.
I continue to be inspired by Architecture to come up with unusual designs. My favourite way to come up with unusual designs is through collage. I took the architecture of Frank Gehry and photocopied it several times in different scales. I then chopped them us and used them as the starting point of my bag design.
Picture: Design process from Collage, 2D Sketch to 3D Prototype.
What made you start your business and sell your bags and patterns online?
Studying to make bags was a career choice. On the one hand, it would offer flexibility for when we ultimately had children (with our first child arriving while I was half way through my degree), and on the other it would provide an additional source of income for our household. There was never really an option of not selling my bags, and moving into PDF patterns was a natural next step.
To date I only have the two PDF Patterns. The Linnden Tote in Issue 18 of One Thimble, and the Ava-Grace. The Ava-Grace was prompted by the Emkie Designs ‘Mystery Bag Challenge’, and as a special promotion to celebrate the launch of the Linnden Tote, the Ava-Grace PDF pattern is on sale until this Friday 16th March at 20% off. You can find it here on Etsy and Craftsy
Picture: Ava-Grace, Style A with Horse-shoe Gusset.
What helps you work?
No distractions, a plan and music!
I’m quite methodical with how I work, and as we all know with any type of sewing, there is an order of construction. Unfortunately, all of this information for the numerous bags that I make is all in my head! It has been quite a process with producing my patterns to get it out of my head and written in such a way that is clear and easily followed. So far, the feedback on my patterns has been amazing.
Music and podcasts keeps me going all day long. In the mornings I listen to Pocasts. At the moments I’m loving Create and Thrive and Optimal Living Daily podcasts. After lunch I turn on the radio and listen to Triple JJJ or the local radio station– the regular news updates keeps me aware of the time so I’m not late for school pick-up.
What do you love most about bag making?
There are so many different elements to bag making. For me – as I make my own designs – there is the design drawings, pattern drafting, prototyping, pattern tweaking and final make. I absolutely love it when I can make a 2D idea into a 3D product, I love seeing it all come together with all the beautiful design elements and I love my customers responses to something I have made especially for them. I truly have the best job!
Do you have a favourite pattern or thing to sew?
Probably my Winona Tote. It’s my most popular bag in my accessories range and I’ve made it that many times now it’s second nature. I particularly love the variety it offers in the combination of fabrics that can be used, and the handles. When designing, I often don’t add the handles in until the last step…which is not necessarily the best thing to do as it can look like a total after thought. On the Winona, the handles turned into a great design element…. luckily!
I’m also a fan of Little Moo Designs Festival Clutch that was in Issue 17 of One Thimble. I was a tester for Kylie on the Festival Clutch and I love the variety that it offers. I personally have a bit of a boho style, so this pattern suits wardrobe beautifully! I love Kylie’s patterns as they offer so many areas for customisation and I have loads of ideas that I still want to try out with this pattern.
Picture: Little Moo Designs “Festival Clutch” by AZA
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given with your sewing?
It’s very cliché, but my best friend told me to “just be me, everyone else is taken”. I was at a place where I was designing some new things and had been working on them for months. Just before I was ready to put it out there, someone else had come up with something very similar independently and released it before me. I was devastated, all that time spend on it seemed wasted.
She told me nothing is completely new in fashion and things have been re-invented so many times over the decades….all the things I know, but was just so lost in the moment of what to do. She reassured me that I would always bring my own twist to things and that I should just go for it anyway. I still intend to release them, but there needed to be a significant time gap between their release and mine. Now, I try not to take too much notice of what other bag designers and makers are doing so I don’t find myself in the same situation.
What is your studio like?
Oh, my studio is SO NOT attractive. I see so many beautiful studios and dream of something so pretty. But where my studio lacks in the lovely décor stakes, it definitely makes up in space and practical aspects. I work out of one side of a two-car garage that used to be the farms ‘Fruit Packing Shed’…. so I have loads of space. I fit in three industrial machines, a domestic machine and overlocker, and an ironing board. I have a large work bench with leather storage, lots of shelving, storage tubs and hardware drawers with everything I need. The down side is it’s a shed with a tin roof and no insulation, so you totally feel the weather extremes from being ridiculously hot to freezing cold.
In the past, I’ve been too embarrassed to share photos of my studio, as it really isn’t pretty. But I’ve come to realise it’s not about what it looks like, it’s about what comes out of it…and I’m pretty proud of the things that get produced in there!
Picture: My Studio
What’s the view from your window like?
As I work out of a garage, so my window is a big roller door! I have a beautiful view of the family farm – Macadamia Nut trees and Custard Apple Trees. I also look towards the west so when I’m working late there are beautiful sunsets.
What’s your favourite quote?
I actually have two:
1) “Dream – Believe – Do – Repeat”
2) “Just Start”
Both quite simple, but you get the idea.
Who do you admire?
Oh wow….ummm… I guess anyone that is following their passion and is having success through doing it. Anything within the creative arts is difficult and it needs motivation and drive to keep going – especially when you’re working for yourself.
Your most memorable place and why?
Another hard one – There are so many memorable places I’ve visited and/or lived and they are all special for different reasons. Besides the Hunter Valley where I grew up, I would have to say London. It was such an amazing time with so many life changing experiences. I got married, I left a career to pursue another one, I studied, I travelled, I had my first child, I met so many amazing and talented people – many of whom I’m still in contact with. I’m very grateful for time and opportunities I’ve had while in London and it all started me on the path to where I am now.
Picture: My University Graduation Day in 2008. Our daughter here is 18 months only, who blessed us by coming along half way through my degree.