We are so excited to do this feature on ARK and the amazing people behind the brand and gorgeous products.
I was spoiled with an ARK cutting board at my kitchen tea a few months ago. It is one of my most treasured gifts and a strong feature at all the dinners and tea-parties me and my husband hosted thus far. A few weeks after the wedding I "Insta-searched" ARK and was surprised to find Imari Crous as the mastermind behind it all. I met Imari a few years ago at Bernina Somerset West where she worked as a tutor giving sewing lessons. I was one of her eager students and she deepend my love for sewing so much. I mailed her the following day. We met for coffee and a loooong chat. And here we are...sharing a bit of ARK, Imari and beautiful images by Suzanne Swart Photography.
Tell us a bit about “Imari”! Who you are and where you are from?
I was born into a family with a love for wood and woodwork. I grew up on a farm outside Wolseley and studied Fashion Design in Cape Town. Only to find myself back on the farm, applying design principles to woodwork.
How did you get your idea or concept for ARK Products?
My dad is an admirable woodworker. After school he left the farm to learn the art of woodworking in Knysna. Throughout the years he has been doing woodwork and last year he started making wooden chopping boards. He originally asked me to get a branding iron made - this made me curious and soon I started helping him in the workshop and started selling these items in a few shops. At the time I was working in Cape Town and on weekends, hours would fly by as we spend time in the workshop playing around with different types of designs and wood.
Where is you workshop and do you have any help with the production process?
Our workshop is on my family’s farm. We have two wonderful guys, Fulton and Gershwin helping us in the workshop. They are amazing and willing to learn. My dad is very supportive and gives us training and advice as we go.
How would you describe the type of products you manufacture?
Bold and minimalistic.
Where do you get your inspiration for ARK’s signature style from?
I am inspired by the greatest designer of all times. He is the most creative and humble Teacher of them all: the Almighty Creator. His designs are all around us. Everywhere I go, I am in awe of His designs. These designs form the basis of my designs: wood, iron and leather. Every piece of wood is beautiful, which in turn inspires us to create something beautiful.
When and where did you make your first sale and thought “We can do this!!”?
Last year we started selling at a shop in Cape Town, Fabricate, and the response was great. I was still working in Cape Town at the time and at the beginning of the year I decided it was now or never as it was always a dream to have my own business. It is such a privilege to work full time on my dream.
Do you make custom pieces?
Yes, we do custom designs. I particularly enjoy these because I always like something different and a good challenge.
What are you currently working on? Anything exciting coming up for ARK in the near future?
We’ve recently started working with leather. We’ve started to use leather handles for the chopping boards. But don’t worry, we will still continue using the iron handles. I am especially excited for the opportunity to work with leather. I know it will be a process to get the hang of it but I’m excited to explore. We also have an exciting collaboration with a potter lined up.
How/where can Burst-readers get hold of some of your beautiful work?
You can get in touch with us through our Facebook page.
We know you as a very creative person – constantly on the lookout for learning something new. What skill or technique would you like to learn next?
Mastering the technique of working with leather is definitely something that I would love to do. Hopefully, making shoes would follow.
What did you learn so far from the ARK journey with regards to business and your identity as a creative entrepreneur?
It’s not as easy as it looks to start your own business. It requires a lot of hard work, late nights and determination. Also, that one should not be afraid to ask for advice.
Any advice for other young creatives who wants to start their own product line?
“The only impossible journey is the one you don’t begin”, so begin otherwise it will only stay an idea. For this journey be sure to pack your enthusiasm, endurance and willingness to work hard.
And just for fun! If you had to have a superpower what would it be?
Definitely to FLY!!! I hate driving!
Burst wishes ARK and Imari all the best in pursuing this dream and with building the business. We are surely your biggest fans!
AND!!!! ARK were kind enough to do a giveaway with us. You can win two stunning chopping/serving boards! See pictures of the products below - these are the only pics not taken by Suzanne!
Follow these easy steps: (You need to do them all)
- Like A burst of life on Facebook
- Like ARK on Facebook
- Tag 3 friends in the post on our Facebook page
- Share the post on Facebook on your wall
The winner will be announced on the 26th of August 2016.