Maker: Ren Valuzyte on woodturning and launching PeopleStore

Interview with Ren Valuztye, founder of PeopleStore, a small online shop to showcase her range of wooden wares and goods crafted by other peoples hands too. Inspired by enterprising people around her at Hackney Downs Studios, Ren launched PeopleStore December 2015 - read about her inspirations, backgrounds and taking the leap to be a full time maker and curator.

Tell us a bit about yourself:

My name is Ren Valuztye, I hail from the Baltic Coast, spent my adolescence in an American suburb and moved to London in my twenties. Working at Hackney Downs Studios as Studio Manager the last few years has been a massive influence. Being constantly surrounded by amazing creative businesses, I reached a point where I just had to try something myself. And that something was pursuing woodturning and curating an online shop.

What's PeopleStore all about?

The greater goal is to influence people to be more mindful about what they buy. My hope is that it becomes more commonplace to see the value in handcrafted and each item telling its own tale. As I've matured, I’ve changed the way I view products and the way I consume. I select good quality, often handcrafted pieces, which will last. It's exciting to be part of a movement offering an alternative to the throw-away consumerism culture.

Why did you turn to woodturning?

The journey began with a love of wooden bowls and I started to see the material in a different way, appreciating the types of grain and colour. The more imperfect, the more interesting and distinct: holes, cracks and knots each tell a story and there are often layers of stories.

I was compelled to do something with my hands and to create, a short woodturning course and lots of trial and error later, I’m still terrified of my lathe but I’m getting into the swing of it!

How important is it to be around creative people?

When I see other people from the studios, we talk about our work, it’s energising and allows for collaboration and the possibility of combining different materials and approaches. Rob Smith has kindly allowed me to share his space which has been a huge help and I’m in awe of his work, a completely different way of working with the material.

Why East London?

I just happen to be here and there are so many like minds and outlets, so it makes sense.

How are you finding the balance between being a maker and an entrepreneur?

These two roles ran in parallel for me, I was always itching to make and I have long appreciated design values and sought out fresh approaches. Through the relationships I built managing studios at Hackney Downs, it started to make perfect sense to curate and provide a small platform for other makers as well as explore making things myself.

Any makers in the family?

My dad is a fast learner and incredibly can-do type of person, building fish tanks, a canoe, a sauna, a smokery, all throughout my childhood and to this day. He’s multifarious, gets interested in something for a few months and becomes an expert. He’s good at anything he picks up. I always thought, “how does he know everything?” 

I guess I have a little of that in me which is revealing itself now, I have to immerse myself completely in order to learn.

Woodturning is a traditional craft, I hope to bring this treasure and incorporate it into a more minimalist aesthetic. A large lathe can be intimidating. It’s empowering to be working in this vein, as your traditional woodturner is an older man.

Where do you find designers and makers?

instagram is amazing, it’s a snowball effect -- to find makers, people to work with, stockists.

I love Netil Market, it’s so cosy and you feel like part of a family, you can hang out there any day of the week.   

Who’s your assistant?

Little Otis is four months old, he’s of the cockapoo clan. He’s a keen carver, he’ll sit with a piece of wood for ages...

Where can we find your online curations & creations?

What can we expect in 2016?

I’ll experiment with different types of wood, collaborating with makers who specialise in different materials, growing the product range, exploring and discovering...

Ren's Inspirations:

Suitcase Magazine - great travel inspo, a beautifully put together magazine.
Anna Walker London - minimalist personalised leather goods made in London. I've followed Anna's journey and it's encouraging to see a small brand do well. I received one of her zip pouches for an early Christmas gift.
Raw Duck - Scandi vibe restaurant. Great for food or a glass of wine. They have a generous selection of natural and biodynamic wines.
Lardo Bebe - Pizza, duh. Love hiding away in their back garden on a Summer eve with a glass of aperol spritz.
Momosan Shop - a little shop just around the corner from where I live, full of stunning objects sourced by Momosan Mizutani. I window shop each time I pass by.
Woodturner Jonathan Leech - creates seriously stunning woodturnings. A bar and restaurant Verden in Clapton houses one of his works, a raw edge lamp and it looks amazing set in a minimalist environment.

More like this