Q1. Tell us about yourself and why you started Graceful Avenue.
My name is Naira and I live in Melbourne, Australia. My family and I moved to Australia from Armenia when I was really young. I have an Interior Design degree and am passionate about art, travel, illustration and music.
I started Graceful Avenue the year after I graduated from design school. There weren’t many jobs out there for young graduates so I started sewing some pouches for sunglasses and putting down some designs on paper. I absolutely loved business studies at school so I decided to launch Graceful Avenue while looking for interior design opportunities. My search for work led me to London where I lived for almost 2 years. While there I opened a small, cosy pop-up shop in a town called Watford. It is there that I first drew Mishka (meaning bear in Russian), and continue to do so today. Running a small business brings me a lot of joy and satisfaction and I can’t imagine life without my stationery label.
Q2. How did you first draw Mishka?
I absolutely love pandas so I felt compelled to draw a cute panda character that could go on most of my products that were selling in my shop. I experimented with my drawing style and practised turning what I imagined in my mind to an actual design on paper. With a little bit of fine-tuning Mishka was the result! Since the time I first drew him in 2013, Mishka has appeared on my greeting cards, gift tags, mini cards, wall prints, stickers and other stationery! These days I draw Mishka and his friends using my Bamboo stylus rather than by hand as it saves time and looks more professional.
Q3. What inspired you to launch Mishka Mail?
When I was living in the UK I saw people buying subscriptions for all sorts of things from cosmetics to jewellery and even food. I thought it was such a unique idea and something that I hadn’t seen before in Australia. For a few years now we’ve witnessed the popularity and rise of subscription boxes, and I was eager to try something new and exciting for my label so I launched Mishka Mail in August 2016.
Q4. Where do you see Mishka Mail heading in the future?
Hopefully we continue to grow and delight our fans and customers with our cute designer stationery. It’s such a great feeling when an order comes through and an equally amazing feeling when a customer takes the time to send you their feedback on your products. I’ve loved the reviews Mishka Mail has received from local and international lifestyle bloggers, who so kindly get the word out to their audience. I am really eager to keep creating more stationery and who knows maybe even introduce more characters!
Q5. What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I absolutely love to travel and am always planning my next trip! I’ve been to many countries in Europe as well as America and Japan and love the sense of freedom and adventure that travel offers. I’m really eager to visit Santorini in Greece and hopefully one day live in a beautiful apartment in sunny Barcelona.
I love to ride my bicycle at the beach and have a scoop of watermelon gelato afterwards. I could spend hours playing the piano. I enjoy writing letters to my friends around the world, as there’s something magical about the lost art of handwritten mail. Cuddles with my cat make me the happiest and I love falling asleep to the sound of the rain and watching classic Audrey Hepburn movies.
Q6. What's the best part about living in Melbourne?
I love how creative and lively the design scene is here. There's always something happening, from special exhibitions at museums/galleries to art installations, film screenings, handmade markets and design fairs, Melbourne's got you covered! Plus, it has been voted the most liveable city in the world over and over again!
Our pop-up shop in Watford, UK
Drawings for our "Mishka Collection" greeting cards