Eugene Mollet of ‘invintage’ has an amazing story! His store focuses on wooden art stamps and they have been wildly successful and big sellers. Read how he hit hard times but reinvented himself with a new career on Zazzle!
Tell us about yourself, Eugene!
I trained as a medical herbalist (you can do that in the UK!), then I won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music in London where I studied classical music, training as an operatic baritone. After they threw me out (ahem!), I then studied linguistics and computing at the University of Lampeter in Wales. I did years of a PhD in Applied Linguistics but couldn’t afford to complete it. After a brief stint in academia, I worked up, through a combination of bad decisions and bad luck, stuck in a tiny village in Andalucía with no work and a degree in ‘Welsh Studies,’ as a single parent, gay dad to two strapping teenagers. I couldn’t afford to get back to the UK where I am originally from, the roof had fallen in on the house we were living in (which didn’t belong to me anyway!) and I was all out of options.
Someone mentioned Zazzle to me and I really didn’t think I could do it but she asked me exactly the right question: ‘what other options do you have?’ I didn’t even have a computer at the time. I had come to Spain in a hurry with no more than hand luggage. In the beginning, I used a little green laptop that the school had given my daughter under the ‘one laptop per child’ scheme. It was painfully slow, didn’t render the colors properly and was so small that I couldn’t keep the design tool in one window! All the software I used was free and open source. I stuck an apple sticker on it and called it jokingly ‘my Macbook Not-So-Pro.’ I still treasure that little laptop even now – I’ve attached a photo of it for you to see! Zazzle has enabled us to buy a campervan and we have decided to move to the Canary Islands because the weather is warm there all year round. At the moment, we are happily homeless ‘Wild Zazzling’ en route to Macaronesia!
At what point did you realize that you wanted to pursue a career in art and design?
In the beginning, I was so desperate, that I didn’t even think about what I was doing. I didn’t think I had an artistic bone in my body. I made a lot of mistakes. Eventually though, after daily sales became a reality, I started to see that perhaps I could make a living at this, then I really wanted it and threw myself into it. I was really pretty bad to start with but as I got used to the design tool and the Zazzle workflow, I really began to enjoy it and I gradually improved. After a few five star reviews and some very happy custom order customers, my confidence began to increase and my interest in digital design, typography and especially the mathematics of color took off. It was amazing! I actually started to see things that I’d never noticed before. I wrote little programs to train my eye.
What made you decide to become a designer on Zazzle?
Has becoming a Zazzle designer changed your life in anyway?
Zazzle has completely transformed my life! ‘Wild Zazzling’ means that my design environment changes daily but that’s the thing I Iove most about Zazzle. Zazzle didn’t just save my (vegan) bacon; it gave me total freedom. We are so incredibly grateful to every one of you that plays your part in making it possible for us to live this way. Thanks, Zazzle!
Is there another designer that you admire or that inspires you?
Off Zazzle, the designer I most admire is William Morris. On Zazzle, the designers I most admire are Cali Graphics and Titan Studios. There’s a very special reason that these designers inspire me – they are living proof that growing up in a Zazzling household produces wonderful designers! (They are my children.)
What advice would you like to give to your fellow designers that are just starting their careers on Zazzle?
- Find a niche! Don’t try to do everything.
- Focus totally on quality and never on quantity. (I learned the hard way!)
- Be disciplined. (Create) a few designs daily – first thing before breakfast.
- Keep learning and always have fun!