ASTANA – Green Cat Art Laboratory started in 2011 as a hobby to make handmade products. Seven years later, it has turned into a business.
Specialising in wooden pins, Green Cat also makes pendants, earrings, postcards, pictures and knitted toys.
“Green Cat’s history began in 2011. We waited for the birth of our son. I thought about what to do on maternity leave and, on some creative website, I came across the decoupage technique. I tried to transfer pictures from napkins to dishes. My husband also became interested. A few months later, we went to a creative studio and studied there for several months,” founder Anastasia Petrunina recalled in an interview for this story.
Petrunina and husband Sergey Petrunin’s inaugural venture was leather pictures, which they tried to sell at local handmade fairs in the capital. Unfortunately, the first two attempts were not successful. The third time, they sold half of their products and opened an Instagram page to promote their handmade work.
“We started with leather pictures. We made a large number of them. Then, we were offered a chance to take part in the first fair, but it was a failure. We did not sell anything. After a while, we tried again and the result was the same. The third fair was successful; we sold half of our eco-leather pictures and people started to place orders. The time of the Instagram [market] had begun,” she said.
The Petrunins were simultaneously testing different business ventures. Sergey opened a stretched ceiling business, and later, a carpentry shop with a partner. Anastasia was working in a start-up. They became less active in the art arena, but at times still participated in fairs and exhibitions.
Working in the carpentry shop, he made wooden bases for her handmade products.
“My husband closed his business and opened a carpentry shop with his partner, so wooden things appeared in our house. I asked Sergey to cut out moulds for my pendants. I painted the first wooden batch and sold them. New products were bought on the very first day. We realised that people liked them and made more,” she said. “I searched the Internet for wooden products and found pins. The first few products were booked as soon as I posted the photos on Instagram.”
In 2016, both left their jobs and committed to developing their hobby into a business. Green Cat has emerged as an enterprise that both reflects their values and helps their clients express themselves. The name was not a random choice, as it demonstrates their love for cats, nature and wood.
“Our customers are people who value freedom of expression. All of them are bright personalities from different spheres. Our task is to help them express their individuality through Green Cat products,” she added.
The Petrunins offer freedom to their employees. They currently live in Novosibirsk, Russia, and have staffs in the Astana and Almaty city branches who manage Green Cat in Kazakhstan. They are also planning to expand their business.
“My husband and I are developing a Green Cat in Novosibirsk now. Over the past year, we trained two persons. Now, Indira does business in Astana and Misha in Almaty. Today, they recruit a team themselves. Each team member is free to choose what time he or she will work. The main thing is the result,” said Petrunina.
The family is open to new concepts from a variety of people.
“We are inspired by illustrators from different countries and creative people in general including our subscribers, who always throw up interesting ideas,” she noted.
She believes art is a rapidly developing field.
“It seems to me that now is the creative people’s era. Interest in art and handmade artists is growing every year. New platforms are opening in support of masters and artists. For example, our beloved Astana Arbat,” she said.