Astralizey: Astralize your life. Home of the hand painted moon bag. Dark, edgy cosmic fashion and accessories by Charleston, SC designer Alizey Khan.
I’m quite excited about sharing this new BOSS BABE post with you all. I’ve known Alizey for a couple of years through an internet group we’re both a part of, so I know just how incredibly hard she’s worked for this, and how much passion and drive she has for creating each and every one of her products available on Astralizey.
If you’re new to my blog, or new to this series, BOSS BABES is about showcasing passionate, inspirational girls who have created their own business and/or are their own boss. You can check out the first BOSS BABE post here.
I was kind of nervous to ask Alizey whether she’d be interested in letting me feature her on a post – I had only just told the group about my blog as I’m weirdly private about certain things – most of my real-life friends don’t even know (yet! I’m getting there). However Alizey was so enthusiastic and supportive about it, I knew I made the right choice, and I’m so happy to be able to show you guys her amazing products.
Speaking of, check out the video below of Alizey working on her Moon Bag (which happens to be my favourite product on Astralizey!)
It’s pretty amazing seeing it in action, and the outcome is absolutely stunning. I can only imagine how great it would feel to be able to produce something like this.
Now for the fun part: Alizey was great enough to answer some questions for me, and the amount of detail she went into is incredible – once again, her passion and love for what she does is so inspiring to me, and I hope it is to you as well!
Q. What was your main inspiration behind all of your products?
A. The beauty of outer space, and the dark mystery that accompanies it, with a witchy vibe. I’m inspired by both modern astronomy and archaeoastronomy (the astronomical studies of ancient civilizations) in my designs; I want my brand to explore mankind’s relationship with the universe around us throughout the history of our species, combining past ideas now considered outdated with present scientific information, to create something entirely new for the future.
I’ve collected outer space themed clothes and accessories for almost a decade now from all kinds of different brands around the world, and I wanted to improve upon the products I have to make something even better using my own ideas. For example, I have some space maxi skirts with a good cut/sew style but a horrible low resolution print- I’m currently designing a similarly cut maxi skirt with my own high resolution printed fabric on chiffon instead. Another example is an Aussie designer brand popular for their space leggings, of which I own several- I love the print and fabric quality, but the design itself has elements that could be improved in the crotch area where they mirror strangely and create a camel toe regardless if you have one or not. I paid extra care to every element in my designs to avoid that kind of defect. My apparel products are printed in Canada and are incredibly high quality stretchy scuba knit, so I’m very confident that my own stuff holds up to the stuff I love in my own wardrobe.
Wearing space print, for me, has always been a great conversation starter, for the kinds of conversations I want to have with people! I know that every time I wear my own stuff I always end up chatting about it with people, and I hope that wearing my designs allows other people that enriching experience as well!
Q. In regards to the Phases of Lunacy collection, was astronomy something you were always interested in?
A. My relationship with the outer universe has changed a lot over time, and I try to encompass all of that in my brand to suit multiple interpretations of space-love for different types of people! I would say the interest was sparked by the anime and science fiction I grew up voraciously absorbing; I was a massive Sailor Moon fan starting from 3rd grade, and I remember playing “sailor scout” pretend (by myself, as an only child…) all the time. I loved Gundam Wing, too, and both of those shows frequently displayed lush spacescapes that still stick with me now.
It wasn’t until college that I started to properly study astronomy from a properly scientific perspective, and that grew out of subscribing to NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day site! I wanted to take astronomy as a class but I ended up taking Geology instead because I really have trouble with abstract equations. I ended up double majoring in Studio Art and Arts Management in order to play to my own best strength; I actually began a space painting series in 2011 and it just never really ended! I used the process of painting space in order to understand the physical processes at work in a way that my brain couldn’t absorb from abstract physics equations. It really did help… I studied a lot about how astrophotography is done, and what all the colors mean (they show different wavelengths of light emitted from elements like hydrogen, oxygen and helium), because every color has a meaning and I need to understand that to properly convey the image.
So I ended up studying astronomy on my own through used textbooks, the Internet, and my art- I understand more about how galaxies and nebulas are formed BECAUSE I had to figure out how to paint them, and my directional brushstrokes mimic the movement of galaxies and wisps of dust clouds.
As for why I’m drawn upward to the sky… I was born and raised in England, moved to Pakistan when I was 11 and dealt with a lot of culture shock from essentially being a regular British girl in a brown girl body expected to suddenly do brown girl things… When I was 14, I moved to the US and experienced a lot of culture shock again, because it’s so different from both the UK and Pakistan. I found myself withdrawing and sort of dissociating from society for much of my adolescence, trying to find my own way to view the world because I had three different sets of clashing inputs and I didn’t know what standard to go with, so I just ended up making my own… And I’ve never really felt like I belonged in any particular place other than the Earth as a whole, because I’ve moved around SO far, so much. Because of that, I feel weirded out by the very concepts of nationalism, patriotism and jingoism we’re all really just citizens of this tiny little planet, together, and all our other categories and distinctions and even the very system of capitalism that I’m working within is just a totally arbitrary thing made up by humans to keep everyone in some sort of control. I want more people to see themselves as citizens of Earth first- not as an American or Pakistani or Christian or Muslim or whatever, because all of those little boxes we put ourselves in to shut ourselves away from people around us don’t really exist.
Which product of yours is your favourite?
A. This is hard, because I tend to favor whatever I’m working on at the time! I think out of my recent collection I’m most proud of my 3D printed silver rings, which look SO beautiful and legit that I can barely believe I designed it myself. Out of my apparel, I’m really in love with my Black Alchemy design, which I drew out on paper, scanned and vectorized… It looks like something I would want to buy if I hadn’t made it myself, which is basically my benchmark when designing things!
It’s so surreal to be able to wear something that only existed in my head until I made the choice to make it exist. Being an artist and designer feels like playing god sometimes!
Q. Are there any products you prefer making over others, or that you have more fun with while creating?
A. I have much more fun in the process of making the products I physically create vs. the ones I just design, but those also come with a lot more pressure to get them all done. And I also tend to get burned out on focusing my creativity in a specific direction, which is why I’ve structured the brand to be open to all kinds of other things I might want to work on. Like, I’ll stay up until 3am for 3 days straight designing patterns in Inkscape and get totally burned out on being on my laptop at all, so I switch gears to making jewellery or painting bags for a while- that’s how I’m able to create so many different kinds of things!
I’m just inherently very creative, with no specific outlet to direct it towards, like a piping bag full of random ideas that I can just fit different nozzles on to make it come out in a different way, like a painting nozzle and a music nozzle and a marketing nozzle… I love and appreciate every art form, and I’ve spent a very long time now as purely a visual artist. I’ve found myself needing more of an outlet to express myself and my point of view through performance, audio and writing. There are so many things I want to do that I just don’t have time for in the day! I try to cycle through making things intensely until I get tired of them; I’m hoping to record an album as well and maybe write a book. I have a whole album of songs written and I wrote a really long (10k+ words) Dragon Age fanfic last year that I’ve been meaning to rewrite into an original story… When I have time!
The crescent moon necklaces I just listed in my store took 180 hours over 3 straight weeks using a totally new material (acrylic enamel- the same kind used by acrylic nail manicurists!) but using a layering technique I developed about 3 years ago in epoxy resin. Resin takes 8 hours to harden, while acrylic enamel takes about 30 seconds, so I can precisely brush it on exactly where I want it and be ready to do the next layer as soon as I’m done! I layered a variety of micas, fine art metallic pigments and glow in the dark pigments (that look white in the light but glow green, blue and purple in the dark) and sanded each layer in between. I used a handheld rotary tool to get them shaped the way I wanted, then spent about a week filing them and buffing them to a high polish by hand… They took SO long but it was totally worth it, because they are absolutely gorgeous to me.
With my apparel at the moment, I design high resolution prints using a combination of vintage (open source) historical astronomical maps, charts and illustrations that I edited and simplified in Illustrator, overlaid on ultra high resolution Hubble photographs of my favorite space objects. I created design mockups to fit different clothing patterns, as well as a bunch of my designs on yards of fabric that I had printed. I’m still waiting for my printed fabric by the yard to arrive, which I’m going to sew into skirts and harness tops that I designed a pattern for, so that will give me the chance to really get into sewing- at the moment, I use several different cut and sew print manufacturers who take my design mockups and apply my prints to their own cut patterns. Because the patterns I already had in mind are fairly basic- crop tops, t-shirts, bodycon skater skirts/dresses- I didn’t see the need to reinvent the wheel, especially since I’m honestly much better at graphic design than sewing!
Q. What has been your favourite part about working for yourself?
A. I’m so happy being able to work at selling things that I actually made and am really passionate about. I had a retail job for 4 years where I learned a ton and adored my coworkers, but it was just kind of disheartening to spend all day promoting and selling products that I just didn’t care about as much as these things, which I didn’t have the time to even make when I worked 40 hours a week in a store! Now I work about 80-100 hours a week, but because I created a business around doing the things I already care about and am good at, it just doesn’t feel like work in the same way as my old jobs!
I also love that I can completely set my own schedule on a whim and switch between tasks from day to day- it keeps things fresh while also allowing me to get all the things I’m juggling done at once! It’s much harder to stay organized now, but I’ve been writing down a personal task list every day and it’s hugely helpful.
The hardest part is not overworking myself, because I have a tendency to throw myself into projects I care about at the expense of basic life stuff like eating and sleeping properly! I’m really trying to balance my life to stay healthy while still getting everything done. It’s much harder than when I was employed and managed by others who gave me tasks to focus on, pre-prioritized. I think this is a habit anyone would learn from, especially if you’re younger and in school, because if you can motivate yourself while you’re in school instead of relying on teachers or bosses to motivate you, you’ll be totally self reliant when it comes to working.
Q. Do you have any advice for future boss babes who want to start their own brand?
Take your time to do lots of research on the business you want to go into and what similar companies are already doing successfully so you can learn from their business model.
It will help to work a side job for a while to set up a financial cushion around yourself where you can jump into a risky personal venture like this without fear of falling- I worked retail full time while saving some money that I used to invest into this brand. I’ve honestly put a lot more money into the company than I’ve made so far, by investing into product samples and materials as well as nice packaging and a standalone online storefront. I’m slowly starting to recoup that money with sales now that my manufacturing process for this collection is done and I can focus on marketing the things I made.
They say “it takes money to make money” for a genuine reason- you have to put effort into every aspect of your product to make it worthwhile for others to part with their money for it. The process of sourcing wholesale materials for my products made me SO confused about the worth of an object, when the exact same round faux leather bag is $70 on ASOS and $7 on Aliexpress… But I came to conclusion that the price point differs based on the experience for the customer- nice packaging, attentive and polite customer service, and fast and convenient shipping are all things that I am personally willing to pay more for. So I put just as much effort into making those elements part of my company as I did in making the actual product. This is the biggest difference between my current venture and previous ones, where I didn’t package it nicely enough or market my things well enough for them to actually sell!
You can find out more about Alizey and Astralizey by clicking any of the following links:
If you have any more questions about the products, don’t hesitate to ask her! She is such a sweet girl and deserves all the love her products are getting, and I can’t wait to see Astralizey continue to grow.