Zolo from Mr Wood: Leaving online for offline

Originally a product and graphic designer, Zolo Kis made the leap from a design studio to the world of wood. Under the brand Mr Wood he now creates original wooden posters and letters that make a beautiful home decoration for all people interested in typography and design.

What he missed in the ephemeral world of advertising, he found in Mr Wood. Lately Zolo exchanged workshop for beach and came to Gran Canaria to enjoy sea and get new inspiration from the Surf Office community. As he was also part of our very first Stay Unplugged camp, we were curious how he liked it and what advice can he give to nomads who think about transition into the world of physical products.

Do you find the world of tangible products more fulfilling than the realms of digital marketing and advertising?

You know, from distance the grass is always greener on the other side. Once you get inside, you’ll find out that sometimes it pretty sucks there, too. But from the learner’s perspective it’s interesting. It’s not like when you just read a book about a subject, you’re actually living it.

How much time do you devote to online matters in Mr Wood?

Honestly, I don’t know. Some days I do nothing on the computer and then I’ll deal with everything at once — Facebook, replying to emails and so on. About 80% of time I spend dealing with the product itself. The website doesn’t take a lot of time — as a former programmer I coded it myself. But what should be taken into consideration when you’re developing a product is that you need to count with customer service. And that takes more time.

Which online tools and platforms do you use in your business?

The e-shop is built on Shopify. What they built is really nice and I think that in terms of automation they achieved as much as they could.

I’ve started simplifying things and now I use mostly Gmail and Drive. All invoices and data are saved in cloud, on Drive. I also take a lot of photos and edit them in Lightroom. Then some Illustrator and Corel for product designs.

For taking notes I’ve tried Evernote and other apps but the best way for me is to write notes in a Moleskine notepad. Yeah, it’s a bummer to carry it around, but it’s not the same thing when you use a mobile app. What I miss in apps is that you cannot highlight things, write something bigger, underline anything. As soon as you open your notepad you can see what you wrote bigger, what was highlighted and so on. In apps, all your notes are more homogeneous and not so easy to grasp.

For task management I’ve tried Wunderlist but I ended up with the simple task manager from Google. I went through the phase when I was trying a lot of different apps, everything was new and funny. But then I got the feeling that I’m only complicating things and I spend more time just trying all those apps when after some while I stop using them anyway.

Can you imagine to outsource all processes in Mr Wood and manage the business only remotely?

Yes, I can. I would even accept less money for more peace and freedom. Time has a huge value but we don’t really realize it.

Where are you getting inspiration?

Mostly internet, I’m pretty new in this. What helps is to live socially, going among people and noticing what they use daily, what they miss or what kinds of problems they have. Lately I’ve also started to collaborate with illustrators and people in typography. This way I want to shift Mr Wood to a bit more ‘artsy’ level.

What would you recommend for those who want to start creating physical products?

The most important thing for a product is whether it’s selling out. The best selling products are those that have some kind of a cycle. Let’s take a beard oil, for instance. You buy it, use it up, and if you liked it, you’ll buy it again. Or you’ll buy something else from the same producer. But the product has a cycle and that’s the most important thing.

If you’re selling a product without a cycle, you need an enormous mass of people who will buy it. You have to count with the fact that they will buy it only once.

You’re not a typical coworking guest or a remote worker. Why did you come to Surf Office?

I wanted to take some time off. I’ve never been to Canary Islands and I wouldn’t probably get there normally because I always thought of it as a typical holiday destination, whereas I like more natural environments.

But I wanted to check out Surf Office and its community and then there was this concept of Stay Unplugged, so I thought, yeah, let’s do this.

So how did you like Stay Unplugged and being three days offline somewhere on the coast?

It was awesome and I can recommend it to anyone. You’ll realize there how much of your time is filled by various devices. The mobile phone, internet… And when you suddenly cut it off and you have to come up with activities and not just sit there, it becomes interesting and funny.

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