Julie Pinzur is responsible for creating the uber quirky brand Mokuyobi! In our October box, we featured the patch “It’s Always Banana Time!” We love how this product can go anywhere– our backpacks, our jackets, our hats, etc. It’s so playful! Below, you’ll discover the creative process of Mokuyobi and get a peek at Julie’s character.
What led you to starting Mokuyobi? What’s behind the name and the path you went through?
I always loved to make things and became very interested in the construction of garments from a young age. While developing my sewing skills, I felt that the products I made weren’t truly my own unless I was designing textiles to incorporate into my products. I went to Parsons The New School for Design to study Illustration, and learned to make textile designs and patterns so that I could incorporate my custom prints into my sewing.
Mokuyobi was a fusion of these things, inspired by a semester of studying abroad in Tokyo. I love to design products and textiles that are a pretty wild and crazy. You have to have a sense of humor and be comfortable with standing out to wear them, but I try to design a simpler style or pattern in each line so everyone can get in on the fun. I design all of the products in our Los Angeles office. Sometimes it takes months to develop a product. I create the designs, make the patterns, and sew the first sample. Usually I work on multiple designs at a time. When putting together a new line, I curate down bag silhouettes and new pattern designs I’ve done and look at the current lines to see what categories need expansion. I source all of the materials and bring them to our manufacturer in Los Angeles where we work closely with them to ensure they are made with the highest attention to quality and detail.
Mokuyobi, or 木曜日 (もくようび), means “Thursday” in Japanese. To us, Thursday is the best day of the week. We believe that there is always something to look forward to.
The aesthetics are so fun and playful! What inspired you to go in this direction? What’s the process like in your designs?
We believe in good vibes. When you smile at someone unexpectedly, you can make their day, and colors also have this effect on people. By putting products with fun color blocking and crazy prints out into the world, we hope to bring a smile to anyone that comes across them, and make the world a little less serious because when it comes down to it, everyone just wants to have a good time.
The inspiration can come from anywhere: nature, storytelling, dreams, inside jokes, doodle parties and more. Sometimes I pick a theme and run with it in a playful way. You never know when a print/pattern idea will jump out at you! From there it’s all about the punch. When I design a print, the color palette can really make or break it. I stick to bright hues in general, but throw in neutrals, pastels and darker shades to end up with well-rounded, high-contrast illustrated patterns.
After the prints are realized I focus on the silhouettes and construction. If a bag is nothing else it must be functional and bag shape and style are the most important aspects next to color but they must lend themselves to each other. This is what I keep in mind while designing. I am always focused on improving usability.
We love the banana time patch! How did this design process go?
I love bananas so much. When I was in college I would eat 3 or more bananas everyday and it got to the point where I googled if you could OD on potassium. Turns out you can’t really as long as you have functioning kidneys that process and dispose of any extra potassium. Otherwise to OD you would need around 400 bananas a day to build up the kind of potassium levels that would cause your heart to stop beating. The truth is bananas are and always have been very good for you. Adults should consume about 3,500mg of potassium per day. Your average banana contains 450mg of potassium which means a healthy person can eat at least 7.5 bananas before reaching the recommended level. Needless to say, it can pretty much always be banana time.
I read in an interview that you were inspired by Japanese culture too. Could you tell us more about this experience?
I visited Japan my freshman year of college with my family for a vacation and completely fell in love. I had no idea a place like that could or did exist on Earth. The colors, the organization, the cleanliness, the politeness, the fashion, the shopping, the fun! I was obsessed and knew I had to go back. I studied abroad in Tokyo my junior year of college before I transferred to Parsons in New York and was able to really soak in the city.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Depending on where I am in the production/seasonal design process I will spend the day doing a wide range of things or focus entire days on single tasks. Including anything from sewing samples, sourcing and ordering materials, sketching new silhouettes and colorways, designing new patches and pins, organizing and styling studio or on location photo shoots, insta posting, and coordinating with my team.
What are some of your go-to spots in Los Angeles?
Any place where they have boba although on the East Coast they call it Bubble Tea so I’m working on altering my vocabulary so I don’t get confused looks from people in LA.
Love the shout out to the Super Beings of Earth. What kind of traits do these Super Beings tend to have?
With our products, we are giving a shout out to anyone who loves to stand out and wear their Mokuyobi item as a proud badge of their own individuality, whatever that means to them. We call these individuals the “Super Beings of Earth and Beyond.” We develop our products from scratch with a high focus on functionality and ultimate radness. This way you can score bags, hats and patches that are not only seriously cool products, but make sense for your day-to-day.
Favorite non-human character?
Pusheen. Pusheen has so many varied talents and interests and is so great at all of them and does them all with tremendous style.
What else do you like to do outside of designing and crafting?
I love to watch movies on my couch while I doodle, oops there I go throwing in designing to every activity, haha!
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
It will be a long and difficult road but if you stick with it and succeed the reward will be worth it if that’s where your true passion lies.
Images courtesy of Mokuyobi.
To learn more about Mokuyobi, you can find them here: