My name is Chris Tsang. I am the founder of Mindzai Creative Shop. There's actually quite the story behind our company and how we got here and I'd like to share a short version of that story with you.
In late 2006, a couple of guys and myself used to work at a design agency named Pressure (now better known as Round 5) that produced a lot of print and photography products. We loved working there but we decided to pursue our own dreams as a photography company. We were young and stupid and quickly found out how much we hated doing wedding and event photography. The job was boring and it was a creative drain on the mind. There's only so much you can do with weddings and I couldn't think of anything more boring. It paid well though. We just didn't have the passion for it and so we started to branch out into doing different things here and there with photography and arts.
In 2007, we discovered Wordpress and Facebook and after finally realizing that our mission was to support the arts community we decided to start up an arts and culture blog where we would profile contemporary artists, write about sneakers, toys, technology and more. It was awesome and we had a lot of fun with it. Here's a screenshot of what the site used to look like.
The site was actually quite successful. In just over 2 and a half years, we had organically grew the site to about 3000 readers, 800 Facebook Group members and 400 some twitter followers. We interviewed our favourite artists around the country and in the US as well, we were at several launch parties for Livestock, New Era Flagship store and we had even had a few of our own art events as well!
We named our art events THE PEEK, which was a partnership with our good friends at Urbanebloc.com. THE PEEK was our own art show where we curated the show with our favourite artists and their amazing designs and photography. We didn't charge the artists a single penny and even allowed for them to sell at our show. They like the concept and we loved the content it provided for ourselves. We even invited live indie bands to come and play. We paid for the sound equipment rentals, the venues, the insurance, the alcohol licenses...everything. We genuinely had a great time doing all of this and we met a lot of great people along the way.
Here's a couple of our flyers. One for our first event held inside the New Era Flagship store in October 2008. We partnered with New Era and great artists like NDEUR, Adrienne Butikofer, Mila Victoria, Chris Brett, Kirsten White, Lesley Chan, Wynne Leung, Shaun Curtis and The Eatons.
The second event was held in July 2009. We partnered with Manifesto, a toronto based art collaborative and Livestock, a local street wear shop. This time we invited Darryl Graham, Jay Skam, Charlene Chua, Samantha Darcy, Justin Wu, Felix Lau, and again Chris Brett and The Eatons. It was a great show and everybody had a great time. We gathered a few sponsors who offered prizes including Steam Whistle, Capcom and Livestock. We learned a lot from this event and I had gotten a lot closer to one of my best friends, Gloria from Urbanebloc.com
Then...in 2010 I got caught up in the corporate workforce. I was working for Bell Mobility, one of Canada's largest wireless carriers and my projects were beginning to heat up. I actually really loved working there. I learned a lot about business development, licensing and rights negotiations, mobile design and how to get things done within a corporate environment. During my time at Bell Mobility, I had launched several wireless products such as NHL Mobile TV, 2010 Olympics, and one of the first HTML5 based carrier portal at http://Bell.mobi. At the end of 2010, I had made the move over to another Bell division, Bell Media. I had the privilege of working on amazing mobile projects such as MTV, MUCH, BNN, and Sympatico. All of this was a great experience but the one thing that bugged me the most was the fact that I had allowed Mindzai to dwindle down to little more than a twitter account. Heck...I didn't even tweet anymore.
I was so upset with myself. What happened to our mission to give back to the creative community? What happened to our ideals? What happened to our love for art and design? It was time to resurrect the mindzai brand. It was the one thing that made me happy.
At the tail end of 2011, I partnered up with my best friend, Shan who is a huge toy fan (especially legos) and we decided that we would not come back to life as a simple publication. There are many blogs out there that we love. Freshnessmag.com, Hypebeast.com, VinylPulse.com, Boooooom.com, Core77.com and countless others. We spent so much of our time admiring those sites and getting lost in countless hours of fashion, art and design is a guilty pleasure of ours. We realized that we couldn't do a better job. And one thing that we realized was that to truly give back to the art community we need to find a way to help that community monetize itself because what we had found was that many artists aren't sure about how to go about monetizing their own work without selling out. What artists do best is create art. It isn't a process you can rush. It isn't a process that you can put half of your effort into. And sometimes when you try to involve business into your creative decisions you can make bad choices and your quality of art suffers. We are here to help.
As of January 23, 2012, we have decided to come back to life as Mindzai Creative Shop.
We constantly look for the best stuff and we do not hesitate to pass up on seemingly amazing deals on subpar brands and goods. We prefer to work with people and companies that put a huge amount of focus on quality design. This mentality allows artists to put their focus on what they do best and that is to create the best possible product.
We will do what we do best and that is to provide our customers with the best customer service possible and to make sure that we curate our store with the best products from passionate people and companies.
We hope you enjoy your shopping experience and we hope to create a relationship with you. Please drop us a line on our facebook page and we will respond as fast as we can.
"Creativity is useless without conviction."
The great team at Shopify created this amazing video to showcase our shop on their website. Take a look!