Today’s Family Portrait introduces a Melbourne family whose passion for Japanese design, antiques and textiles has brought together two generations, in one flourishing retail business.
Kazari + Ziguzagu are Melbourne based traders of Japanese furniture, homewares and textiles. Founded in 1978 by Robert Joyce and his wife Jo Maindonald, these days the business is a family affair, managed with Robert and Jo’s two daughters, Hana and Lucy.
Kazari + Ziguzagu was called originally known as Kazari Japanese Interiors when it first opened by husband and wife team Robert Joyce and Jo Maindonald in 1978. The company has always been synonymous with Japanese aesthetics, particularly furniture, decorative arts and textiles, inspired by Robert and Jo’s extensive travels through Asia and Japan. Whilst Kazari has always been the main focus of the business (and primarily refers to furniture, art, accessories and objects) Ziguzagu came along later as a separate entity, focusing on vintage textiles.
Sisters Lucy and Hana joined the business in 2013. ‘After some time travelling and living elsewhere, we both felt like it was time to move back home to Melbourne, and at about the same time, Mum and Dad expressed a desire to step back a little from the business, and invited us both to join the them at Kazari’ explains Hana. Having said that, the pair are yet to fully ‘take over’ the business. ’It’s a bit of a process!’ says Hana. ‘At the moment we have taken on the day to day running of the shop, but in terms of the buying, particularly in Japan, you could refer to us as apprentice buyers, there is a lot to learn!’.
The Joyce family are an industrious lot, and as is often the case in small businesses, each family member wears many hats! At present, Lucy and her Mum Jo manage the company’s accounts and admin, whilst Lucy also takes care of product photography and the Kazari website. Hana does all the product development, stock management, visual merchandising and window displays. ‘Robert is everywhere’ according to his daughter Hana (!) but mostly he can be found at the warehouse, organising and pricing new shipments, delivering furniture all over Melbourne, and educating interested customers!
An impressive showroom in Malvern rd, Prahran is the flag ship store for Kazari + Ziguzagu, housing their most comprehensive selection of stock. My personal fave spot, though, is their warehouse in Cremorne, which is also open to the public, and carries overflow, larger items, architectural features and the restoration workshop. It really is a gold mine! (Addresses and trading hours at the bottom of this post).
Robert and Jo on their daughters
What were Hana and Lucy like growing up?
Lucy was often found (and old customers remember) in an antique cane pram in our first shop in Armadale! She was taken on all the early trips, as was Hana, when she was born three years later.
Both girls always came along to Kazari’s many exhibition and events through the 80’s and 90’s. They enjoyed meeting the artists whose work we promoted, and sold through later decades.
Lucy was always a ‘tom boy’ with an adventurous spirit, she was sky diving at 16! She has a degree in Photography from RMIT, which she followed with studies in graphic design. Hana was a ‘Chapel St’ girl and always loved art, fashion and design. She was always very creative.
How did you originally rope Hana and Lucy into the business?
The girls were always encouraged to explore their own interests and creativity initially though their school, Preshil, The Margaret Lyttle Memorial school. Most weekends were spent staying at the family property near Wilsons Prom, playing early settlers, staying in the bush hut, enjoying nature, wildlife the beach and horses. As parents we believed that leaving the family nest early would be a necessary precursor to their return as healthy well-adjusted adults.
Both were keen to work in the business after having followed and financed their own paths and experiences on different continents and interstate, as employees, travellers and students. We were more than delighted when they returned and felt confident from the outset that they could work together.
What are you most proud of?
Their educational achievements, Lucy’s development of her photographic skills and Hana’s fine aesthetic judgement, they both have great personal and confident interaction with each other and with our interesting and diverse customer base. We love the way they work together and think the business will continue to grow with both of the girls on board.
It is challenging for us to let go, no matter how much we want them to succeed. Knowing when, where and how isn’t easy but we are excited about the future for Hana and Lucy in the business, as much as we are excited to continue on travelling the world, just as as did when we started in the 70’s.
Lucy and Hana on their parents
Your parents seem pretty cool, were they always like that? What was it like growing up in your household?
Mum and Dad have been cool since I can remember, growing up in the 60’s certainly would have played a part, they have each lived very interesting lives both together and apart. They have some amazing stories to tell.
Mum lived in London in the early 70’s, and was a bit of a political activist back in the day. She may or may not have run onto the Rugby pitch in Wales to protest against Apartheid, and like Dad and many of their peers, railed against the Vietnam war. Dad ran a flea market for a while in Carlton, and travelled a lot through South East Asia, living in the Phillipines and Indonesia for some time in the 70’s.
Growing up in our household was pretty fantastic. Mum and Dad were always very supportive of us pursuing our interests. Lucy and I are quite different, she has always been a bit more of a tomboy, spending weekends at our farm fishing and riding horses, while I would spend my weekends with my grandparents baking cakes and learning how to sew.
As we got older Mum and Dad were always very open minded and gave us a lot of freedom to make mistakes, something which really instilled a sense of independence in both of us. We were also very fortunate to have travelled to some incredible places when we were growing up, places which at the time were quite unusual.
We went on an incredible family trip to Kenya, India and the Seychelles when I was 14 and Lucy was 17. Lucy had already spent time in Kenya staying with a wonderful Kenyan family when she was 14 years old… yes 14 years old… alone in Kenya following her dream of learning Kiswahili! I later visited again with my Dad when I was 16, this time we turned it into a full blown buying trip and brought back an incredible collection of objects from all over Africa, and went on to have a sell out exhibition in Melbourne. Very cool parents indeed.
How have your parents influenced and supported your careers?
When I (Hana) was 8 or 9 I went to Japan with Dad on my first buying trip (he started me young). I remember going to auctions and being at the warehouse when the container was packed. I’m sure I was more of a hindrance than a help, and even though the highlight was of course a trip to Tokyo Disney (!), those early experiences certainly had an impact and instilled a very strong work ethic in me.
Lucy and I were no doubt influenced by the experiences Mum and Dad enabled us to have, especially through travel. Lucy developed her interest in photography though documenting our adventures and I definitely developed an eye for buying interesting things, evident in my compulsion to stuff my suitcase full of as many interesting pieces of jewellery/textiles/ceramics as I could, a compulsion I proudly still maintain.
I think both Lucy and I have been supported in our careers through the freedom we have always been given to pursue our own interests. We have now come full circle back to Kazari + Ziguzagu, with new skills and experiences to contribute to the business.
How did you originally get involved in the family business?
Lucy and I have both been involved in the business at various times over the years, during school holidays and in-between jobs etc… when we were kids we used to stuff envelopes and do letter box drops as well as waitress at the various exhibition openings… Oh and dusting! There was always dusting to be done (there still is) but jumping on board in January 2013 was altogether different.
What are your hopes for Kazari + Ziguzagu in the future?
We hope to continue on the Kazari + Ziguzagu legacy, we are heading into our 37th year and we want to make it to 50 at the very least! We will continue to source the same kind of interesting pieces we are known for while further developing our very own Ziguzagu Designs, textile aspect of the business, who knows we may even open another Kazari + Ziguzagu overseas! Watch this space.
7-11 Hill St, Cremorne (Richmond)
Open Mon to Sat 10.00am – 5.00pm