Etsy UK shop Yeux Studios sell beautiful, sculptural concrete plant pots and incense holders, and despite it being less than a year old, it's becoming a firm favourite on the online marketplace.
Beryl Dzambo is the co-owner of Yeux Studios and head of communications at an arts organisation called Trigger in Bristol, where she resides. Her passions include people, life, nature, arts, music and design. 'I'm really passionate about just being,' she says.
Beryl speaks to House Beautiful UK about the birth and growth of Yeux Studios, and why her products are about so much more than just beautifully crafted ornaments.
What year did you start your business?
We actually started our business this year. Technically it was a Boxing Day idea I had in 2020 with my partner Pascoe, but we started exploring ideas, making prototypes and moulds, and selling this year.
When did you start selling on Etsy?
We actually started selling on Etsy in January which is wild, because we weren't expecting it to do so well. We had an idea in mind, bought the mould, made a few samples learning on the go, and set up the shop on a punt! We thought we had a great idea and enjoyed making them, so thought, we have nothing to lose, so I put 10 up for sale and we sold out pretty quickly! And then it happened again and again. It caught us by surprise so we just ran with it and grew with the business, which was difficult because we both work full-time and have other projects, but it's been such a blessing and rewarding in many ways.
What was the inspiration behind launching Yeux Studios?
My job can be creative, but I really wanted to do something with my hands and Pascoe is an amazing artist who also does sculptures and works with a lot of concrete in his art. We love concrete and design/decor, so it just made sense for us to make things we love and see what happens. I like the idea of one of our creations being part of someone's home, and if it makes them feel at home, even if it's just for a second. The notion of home and belonging is really important to me – I think because of my background and my own explorations into what home really means.
Yeux is French for 'eyes' and they really can be a window to something special, and I also loved it because it's pronounced similarly to 'you' in English. I really resonated with this because I'm a people person and what I make is about you – the people that buy and give our creations a new home.
Does your heritage feed into the products that you create and sell?
It totally does – it's what makes me who I am today so everything I do comes with that knowledge and experience, it's part of who I am. I was born in Zimbabwe but I moved to the UK when I was young, so I've grown up with a mix of cultures, which wasn't always easy, but was an opportunity to make my own in a way.
My most favourite item we've made to date is the concrete Girl with an Afro plant pot. When I was looking for inspiration I saw a few plant pots with faces, but nothing that looked anything like me or my family, so I thought, a girl with an afro. People that have afro hair, in particular Black women, will know the trials and tribulations of having afro hair.
I've got an odd relationship with my hair because I grew up in Zimbabwe where afro hair was norm, then I moved to the UK when I was young so I remember getting ready for school and being told not to have my afro hair out and to go for something 'less elaborate'. I remember not seeing it represented in any runways, magazines, or on TV because there was such a stigma against it. So I wanted to make a piece that celebrates our hair, an ode to every person with afro hair or that has been discriminated against because of who they are. This is for us, to love every single thing about it *Tina Knowles voice*, every kink, curl, and shrinkage. You know that famous saying, 'If you can't love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love somebody else?' It's honestly one of the most rewarding things, to know that the planter is in someone's home and it's being celebrated.
So, as well as this being a shop, it's also an opportunity for me to rewrite what I can and give other young girls with afro hair, whatever length, size and coil, some appreciation and to know that they are beautiful and this hair is EVERYTHING!
What has been the most rewarding part of being a small business owner?
Being creative with my hands has been great. I work in communications which is also creative in many ways, but using my hands, sanding, finessing, using tools – it's great and sometimes meditative. The feedback we get from Etsy customers has been flooring – we're so lucky to have some great customers and even people that pass through our shop and send us a message to tell us they have been inspired or they love it. It's everything.
Myself and my partner Pascoe are both creative and have always talked about building something together. We always said that we would want to do something that we were happy with, that we'd love, and with some meaning. I'm so happy with what we've created and how we've grown from an idea, to getting our first shop on Etsy, to making some awesome items. From expanding the range with the aim of being more inclusive, to doing a collaboration with Honey Dijon who is just an icon and someone we love, was an honour.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
This question is quite loaded for me. My first reaction is always we need more than a month, to be honest – but until then it's a time to celebrate us the way we should be every day.
How can people continue to support Yeux Studios on Etsy, now and beyond?
Please head on over to our Etsy page and get something from there, tell a friend – check out our socials. We've got an exclusive collaboration with DJ and Trans rights activist Honey Dijon that I'd love for you all to check out!
Visit etsy.com/uk/shop/YeuxStudios to shop the collection.
Etsy is committed to showcasing and celebrating independent creatives this Black History Month and beyond. There is a huge selection of one-of-a-kind creations to discover from Black-owned businesses from the Etsy community, and you can shop a few of Etsy's favourites at etsy.com/uk/featured/blackownedshops-uk.
• Discover more Black-owned homes and interiors businesses here.
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