From little girls following their grandma around fabric stores and learning new ways to express their creativity to young ladies sewing their own designs for sale at festivals; from traveling the world learning new languages and worldviews to channeling passion and love for beautiful fabrics, Za Zen evolved out of a need to share what we have learned from the world with others.
Many people ask us at Za Zen, "How did you come to be?" We tell them that it's a long story that spans over several decades. Grandma was an amazing seamstress who created beautiful clothing in her spare time. She often took us with her and let us pick out the fabrics for her designs. As children our unique and unconventional personal style was never oppressed, ie you may have seen us dressed in strapless gypsy get up, adorned in Navaho jewelry and a Peter Max do-rag, roller skating around the neighborhood. The 80's were any free spirit's dream come true. You could just create your own unique style and it stuck. Neon came and went. Asymmetry ruled. Anything seemed possible.
Eventually learning to sew, we also endeavored to learn how to dye our fabrics with plant-based substances. Friends got involved. People loved our stuff. We got commissioned to do custom pieces for women, and even a few guys. In the 90's we were a hit on Dead Tour, and were embraced by The Eugene Saturday Market. Eventually taking a hiatus to study at university and to travel the world, we were inevitably drawn back to the love of fabric.
Being pulled in the direction of design and collaborating with friends abroad, we took it up a notch. Za Zen was born. Why the name Za Zen? The word actually means seated meditation, which it took a heck of a lot of to focus on this life path. And also we really love John Daido Loori, a famous zen master, who really inspired us with his famous quotes. We began contracting with a small family owned operation in Thailand to produce our designs, and business took on a life of its own.
In the next few years we started growing, and being inspired and supported by our wonderful customers, opened a couple brick and mortars. We continued doing festivals and Portland Saturday Market. After many fun and fruitful years, we felt we had reached an apex of sorts. We wanted to widen our customer base and transition to online sales. We needed fresh designs and fabrics. As we began our transition, the inevitable happened; we lost Grandma. To honor her, as well as to regroup and reflect, we took some time off and closed the brick and mortars. But we dearly missed our face to face interaction with our customers. So we did a few festivals, and with the love, support and inspiration of our customers, we knew we had to get back on the horse. And what would Grandma have said? "Quit your bellyaching, and get back to work!"
And so here we are, here to share our passions with the world. Thanks to all.
Oh, and that Jon Daido Loori quote that changed our lives:
"It's no small thing to be born human. A lot of "stuff" comes with the opportunity of human life. Zazen is an incredible doorway for getting to the bottom of it all, and learning to live your life out of what you directly experience yourself: not what somebody tells you, not what you read, not because you should, but because your own direct experience of yourself and your life tell you what to do."
© 2019 Za Zen, Inc.