article was published in "Dziennik Polski" nr 5678, 2006, the polish daily newspaper
They specialize in shirts with moose, cat, teddy bear or hare ears on hoodies or with wings at the back.
What are those ears for?
-Because they are visible only when you put the hoody on, they can be revealed at some point... it's a type of an instant switch. – Says Maja, the co-founder of "Punkt"
"Punkt" is a concept store: a form of art gallery. Selling chocolate earrings ready to be eaten straight form the ear, raincoats out of shower curtains, picnic bags – that after being spread open become mats for sitting on.
Created because Monika Drożyńska, after having finished studying at Akademia Sztuk Pięknych (art academy) was feeling down and Maja Kuczmińska having thirty years and a craving for something on her own.
Point of honour
First of all, "Punkt" was a result of an autumn depression.
Monika about herself:- In primary nobody wanted to sit with me at the table. I was able to spend an entire day on drawing at home.
Her hometown of Gorlice weren't enough for her anymore, as a teenager, she moved to Cracow, went to a theatrics-based high-school. She passed the graphics arts specialization at the academy. Throughout her studies she sew her own clothes.
Monika: - I joined shreds from trousers and made sleeves out of them.
One day someone asked her where she has acquired such things. She began to sew on on demand and began to dream about her own shop.
In the meantime Monika had finished her studies. Her thesis in ASP had made an impact on the entire country.
Monika had drawn the estate. On the estate, a block of flats. She decided to make three pictures – the first, being a photo of the block, the second composed out of photos of families on sofas in their main room and the third, composed out of portraits of each resident.
For two weeks she couldn't enter any flat. Nobody would let her in.
I sat on the staircase and listened to the residents gossiping "there's this girl around these parts, she will photograph everything and then come with her crew and rob your flat..."
She didn't give up. Monika visited from door to door, knocked on them, wrote letters, hung posters on hallways convincing everybody "I am genuinely no thief, loony or travelling agent. After two months people would bring her tea on the staircase and invited her to dinner. 34 out of the 66 families agreed to have their picture taken. Monika would knock on the doors of the reluctant ones up to seven times.
After a year and a half she had made an opening by the block. She had mowed the lawn, set upthe tables and poured out the wine.
People marvelled at the three large pictures and asked themselves: "and who would that be?" and "why aren't I there?"
Nationwide newspapers wrote about Monika's work, but Monika still wanted to own a shop.
After her studies she had gone to the United States, she worked as a bartender at a pub for truck drivers as well as a manicurist. She worked and saved up for half a year. After her return to the country she decided to rest for a month, to lie on her back and do nothing.
Monika: -I began to rest so intensly, that I had gotten a huge depression from doing nothing.
A trip to India funded by some of the saved up money had rescued her from the gloom. When she came back she knew: she had to find a job at once.
And she did, she ran a pub: she kept the whole business in custody, she managed the employers, getting really involved – I would even dream about this at night. I couldn't cope at all.
The depression hit her once again. Monika cried on Maja Kuczmińska's shoulder, a friend of hers. –I've had enough. – well then, time to open that shop – Maja replied.
After two weeks on the main market square, they had opened their first "punkt"
The first "punkt" was in fact a pawn shop. In all this rush Monika barely managed to make anything, therefore ninety nine percent of the assortments came from the shelves of her accomplices.
Their favourite clothes were given high prices just in case so that nobody would buy them.
With time, people began to bring in their clothes and the business took off.
Monika: -After less than a year we had reached a brick wall. We came to the conclusion that we aren't able to change, redecorate or fix anything. The place's energy had run out, we needed a new one.
They had transferred "Punkt": first on Podzamcze street, then on Sławkowska street and began to sell things designed by Monika.
Points are hitting it off there
Monika doesn't limit herself to just the sewing materials. She looks for third-hand recycled materials, ones that nobody wants anymore. She utilizes drinking straws, car parts, belts, or plastic fruits that decorate delicatessen counters.
From the shower curtains she fashioned raincoats. From fishing floats – earrings. From the Pakistani flag bought from a second-hand clothes store – a shirt. From train curtains – a skirt. Monika fashions earrings from devotional articles. She searches among the European bazaars, among the attics of the elderly. Thanks to that, her every single product is different, unique. Purchasing it one has a one hundred percent certainty that there is no other like it. "Punkt" gives its guarantee.
Maja: - We make sure that our clothes are comfortable and functional, and not just easy on the eyes or fashionable.
Ecology is important in "Punkt". But not the kind that limits itself to caring for the environment, but an ecology of life, of thought, of relations. – That's why "Punkt" isn't as much a clothes shop – Explains Monika – as much as our view on this world. A perspective, a way of thought. Everybody works for their own karma and how those points hit it off for them
Point of view
27 year old Monika has a specific sentiment to the esthetics of genuine socialism, communist designs. –I use it in projects, because you can't casually walk by the factthat we live in Poland and we carry this historical baggage.
Monika would rather not have this load on her, but she is unable to move out.
Monika: - Poles have a deep feeling of harm. For decades we believe that we are entitled to something because we are the crucified ones. I hate that. On the other hand, whilst abroad, I missed Poland.
All of those thoughts are in Monika's clothes, for instance politician's quotes. Monika cuts them out from newspapers and embroiders them on: collars or tags... on skirt's pleats she writes "Polish martyrology is strongly overrated" or "one point for world peace and the greater good"
Maja even gave birth to her son whilst wearing a skirt from the "Polish martyr" series.
Point of escape
Over half of the items sold in "Punkt" go abroad: to Europe Japan. Recently a Canadian living in Japan came shopping; he had come to meet with his mother who lived in Sweden.
Monika: - A community is created around this store, people revisit the shop, they make friends.
Recently the owners of "Punkt" were given an offer to introduce their collection in Paris, the city will have a boutique promoting polish fashion.
But in reality "Punkt" is just the beginning.
Maja: - We began from fashion because it required the smallest investments however we are planning on widening our work. We are thinking of establishing a newspaper focusing around culture and community for women. Our acquaintances are opening up a foundation helping young female artists, we want to join. And ever since I gave birth to my son I have a great need to help mothers, maybe a kindergarten ...
Because my aim is to, as Annais Nin – to leave a mark on this planet.