Stocked in names like Net-a-Porter and Harrolds, aaizél is the creation of Melbourne's Minhee Jo.
Using clothing design as a form of expression, Minhee focus's on creating concious pieces and staying true to her creativity and beliefs, even when it can be challenging to do so.
Q1. Hi Minhee Jo, welcome to the Woman Of Series! Can you tell us what it is you create?
I create pieces in Melbourne that are designed to align with the world’s social and environmental spheres, through conscious sourcing, and production processes and heightening consumer awareness to care for a better world.
Q2. Can you share with us a bit about your journey so far and where it all began?
Fashion was something I always saw myself in, but that strong desire of wanting to create my own brand wasn’t realised until years after my university graduation. Gaining industry experience and knowledge is so important, but the most valuable lessons were gained during the launch of aaizél.
I find design or any form of art the most liberating way of expressing myself. Fashion had always been something that’s imaginative, expressive and exciting for me to engage in, whether it be choosing fabrics, designing, sewing, castings or styling.
aaizél is like my life journey - every process involved in putting together a collection is fulfilling and motivating for me, not only because of the end result, but there’s always something new I learn each season.
Q3. What do you think it is that makes your work unique?
I’m very hands on and have a particular way of working. I understand it’s important to be aware of trends, but I always go back to what I’m confident with, and what works for the brand. I tend to work with people that I met during the aaizél journey – they are familiar with my preferred style, and understand my vision with regards to shoots, casting and styling, and the outcome is always consistent with the brand aesthetic.
Q4. What has been the single most crucial tool or strategy you’ve used to grow your creative business?
Being open to ideas, being adaptive but at the same time staying true to your values. It’s tricky as a micro business, because you have to be commercially viable, but then you don’t want to lose your creativity and beliefs, and become like every other brand. Fortunately, I have really supportive people around me that have great insight, and it’s a comfort to know that I can reach out for their valuable advice to always improve.
Q5. What’s been the most challenging lesson learnt so far in your career?
That you can’t please everyone, and not to take everything to heart. Being a creative, I’m full of emotions and I struggle to not think too much or over analyse everything – haha.
Q6. What’s been the best thing that’s happened to you since you started your career?
Being recognised and stocked at my dream luxury retailers like Net-a-Porter and Harrolds, and being lucky enough to be able to work with such passionate and admirable professionals.
Q7. Where do you go or what do you do to recharge your creativity?
Travelling is my way of recharging creativity. I love recalling beautiful experiences that I archive from certain places. Travelling for me is the most valuable way to reward and educate myself about other cultures, as well as soaking up inspirations and new feelings.
Each collection reflects a part of my life journey, and I want to be able to connect with it at all times.
Q8. How are you fulfilling your creative passions this year?
This year has been hard, as we keep going back into lockdowns in Melbourne. Also not being able to travel makes it challenging for me to be inspired. I took abstract art classes and modern art history whilst in lockdown which helped heaps to keep creative.
Q9. We’re all about women inspiring women. Who inspires you?
So many inspiring women around me, starting with my mum, my cousin, female business owners, working mums who are able to juggle everything. When I’m having hard times, I look to these women who constantly push through and succeeding.
Q10. What advice would you impart on the next generation of women, and women in business?
Take step by step, follow your intuition, keep your pace and know everyone has their time to shine. I find that it’s quite easy to get discouraged in the creative industry, so it’s important to have mentors and supportive people around you that you can go to for advice and support.