My name is Doug. It's funny how some of us end up in careers that we never
envisioned for ourselves. I started YANZUM in 1989. It was at a time
in my life when I needed to get into work that wasn't quite as physical as
the carpentry I'd been doing for seven years. I originally got into carpentry because I'd
with always having a phone stuck in my ear at my previous office job. I like
working with my hands so I enjoyed carpentry, but my back was taking a toll
from lifting too many loads of lumber. I was looking for a new direction when I
ran into an old friend who had just started making concrete planters, and so
I thought that's what I'll do, I'll sell his planters. I had always
been interested in gardens and plants so it seemed like a good match.
In early spring 1989 the Atlanta Flower Show was being held at the Atlanta Apparel
Mart in downtown Atlanta and my planter friend had access to a free booth, so
he suggested I set up shop and sell his planters. At about the same
time, I met another guy at a yard sale who had just started importing arts
and crafts from Bali. I liked what he was importing so I told him about the
Flower Show and he suggested I take samples of his items
so I could take orders until his shipment arrived.
all I needed was a business name. I made a list of about 35
possibilities that came to me and I showed it to my good friend Mike who worked in
advertising. Out of all those names he picked YANZUM and said I should
definitely use this one. I had made the word up by putting the first 3
letters of each of my parents last names together, so needless to say I was
very happy he had chosen this particular name.
price lists and brochures of the planters printed, then I loaded
everything and headed to the flower show. Half way through setting up the booth it
occurred to me that I had left carpentry to get away from heavy lifting only
to now be lifting concrete planters which are even heavier. Oh well, it was
too late now.
show was a huge success and I took lots of orders for the planters and for a
funny little whirligig that was made from bamboo on the island of Bali in
Indonesia. It played
music on a tiny bamboo xylophone as the wind catching fan whirled and the
painted tin man on top pulled at his painted tin cow. The noise attracted a lot of
attention and it seemed like everyone at the flower show came to my booth
and ordered one. Everyone asked where my store was, but the only
problem was I didn't have a store... yet. Meanwhile, I promised delivery
to each customer, so after the show when all the orders were ready, I drove all over the city delivering planters and
whirligigs. If you've ever been to Atlanta, you
know it's a huge sprawling city, so I put many miles on my truck that month.
things had gone so well at the show,
I got brave and decided to open a store. I found a
nice little storefront on the corner of Spring St. at 16th Street near the freeway. The rent was
cheap and business was pretty good. People were finding me even though they
couldn't always figure out how to get into my rear parking lot on the first try.
Word started spreading and more wholesalers started bringing more wonderful
merchandise to me and more customers came in the store. In the beginning, the focus was on garden items such as
bird houses. A local magazine even gave me an award for the best birdhouse
selection in Atlanta.
Eventually I decided I needed more space, so I started looking around.
My agent found a building for me on Atlanta's famous Peachtree Street,
directly across from the High Museum of Art and the Woodruff
Arts Center, several blocks east of my then location. The new building was too big for me, so he talked the art center management into
renting just the front rooms to me. I painted the space, put up my signs,
moved in and got back to work searching for interesting artifacts to sell.
My focus had changed now to more international folk art, for lack of a better
term. I offered unique and interesting things from as many countries as I
could find. I had become good friends with many of my suppliers who were now
bringing things from not only Bali, but also Haiti, India, Guatemala, Mexico
and many more. I found even more items at the trade shows where I would seek
out individuals in the temporary booths who were doing all the importing
themselves. I tried to stay away from the larger companies who were
selling huge quantities of mass produced items.
I was written up in several magazines and newspapers, so YANZUM was getting
to be fairly well known in Atlanta. My customers were loyal and many proudly told me
they bought all of their gifts from me because I had such interesting art
pieces at good prices. They didn't want to give the same gifts everyone else
did, and they knew mine were out of the ordinary. Eventually this
formula played out as I found it increasingly difficult to find arts and
hadn't been seen everywhere else. It seems many stores were now
buying art similar to mine, taking away the uniqueness, so I decided to go
in a different direction.
There were two separate spaces, so I moved everything into one room, while I worked
on the other so business could continue during the day. After hours I
completely renovated the space by myself, ripping out the ceilings and
exposing the cement underside of the overhead parking deck. This turned out
to be a bigger job than I anticipated because the building began its life as
a clinic and the remnants of the many tiny examination rooms, complete with
plumbing from the many individual sinks, were still waiting for me above the
acoustical tile ceiling and the original suspended plaster ceiling above
that. I was in way too deep to stop now so I kept at it and got the job
done, even recycling all the metal materials rather than tossing them in the
dumpster. I always recycle everything I can so this was no time to change
that good habit.
When the new gallery space was finished, I added high intensity low voltage
track lighting and I started doing shows displaying works by many different
artists. There was the father and son sculptors from Zimbabwe who
created the most interesting and bizarre characters from carved painted
wood. There was a woman from New York who created beautiful paintings from
fired clay, and many others, but my favorite was the show I did with the
Canadian Consulate in Atlanta. They flew me to Toronto to meet with
the people who ran a showroom for stone sculpture that was made by the Inuit
people in the Canadian Arctic. The organization was part of the very
old Northwest Trading Company whose roots go back to 1668 in the fur trading
business. They allowed me to personally select each sculpture, then they
shipped it all to my gallery in Atlanta where we had a big successful
opening night thanks to the generous Canadian government. The managers
of the Toronto showroom, whom I had now become friends with, even came down
for the event.
I started getting into African art. At first I didn't know much so I
bought what I liked. Eventually I met a man who started teaching
me about authentic pieces versus pieces made for sale to tourists and the
export market. We started working together, adding more and more authentic
antique pieces to the gallery. We still
work together today and I have a large collection of authentic antique
African art displayed for sale on my other website. There is a link below
in case you're interested. Things were going well and I even received
an award from the mayor for my contribution of culture to the city.
Running an art gallery is a very demanding
job and I reached a point after 12 years where I needed a change.
I closed the gallery in 2001, sold my home in Atlanta and moved to a small town in
Florida to enjoy being closer to my mom and siblings for a while.
I learned how to build a website and so I
created an online gallery under my own name Douglas Yaney Gallery
where I offer high quality African and Haitian art. Next I decided to resurrect YANZUM
in website form. In the beginning it was a place where I could have some fun
plus sell some of the interesting pieces I've collected over the years.
I have always loved art and have always collected what I like and could
of my biggest passions is my garden. You can find me nearly every
week-end out there moving plants, watering, trimming, pulling weeds,
what ever it takes to make the garden beautiful. It's my form of therapy.
I started adding a few gingers and cannas for sale. I don't yet have a large collection of plants to
sell but it will be growing. I've teamed up with my good friend Farley in
California who is quite knowledgeable about plants. We are both
growing various varieties of ginger and canna along with other plants, so eventually we
plan to add new varieties
to the website.
Meanwhile I always have a million other projects I'm working on, so we'll
just have to wait and see where this all goes but as always, I'm enjoying the
A few months ago I decided to completely
I've recycled everything possible for as long as I can remember, so I
decided to start including information about this. I think it's
important that we do everything we can to not waste our natural resources.
I plan to write more about all of these things that I'm passionate about.
I even plan on creating a third website soon that will be focused on many
ways we can rescue our planet earth from our destructive bad habits. I've
thought about all these things for years and I think the time is right.
Your comments, questions and suggestions are
Thanks for your time.
My Personal Garden
my African art and Haitian art website