Email marketing is definitely alive and kicking in 2021. After a worldwide pandemic, when businesses and events went virtual, a newsletter is still the best way to reach your ideal customers. Here's why I still think they are brilliant (even though secretly they feel a bit 1998).
1. Connection with your audience
When people get to know, like and trust you, they are more likely to buy from you. And buy from you again, and again, and again. 1000 true fans are all you need for a fabulously successful handmade business.
2. Building Personal Relationships
Getting an email straight into your inbox is a more intimate experience for your customers than scrolling through Instagram and maybe or maybe not seeing your posts.
3. You Own Your Email List
What if Facebook and Instagram closed tomorrow? What if your account got deleted? You still have a way to get in front of the people on your list, and as they are your best customers....
4. Less Work
Mailing list subscribers are more invested in your products than social media followers so are more likely to buy. This means you have to create less content for your social channels overall.
5. Your Biggest Asset
Sales are down, in-person events are cancelled, you have a busy month with family situations...whatever spanner in the works that prevents you from making sales can be solved by emailing your list with an offer, launch or event.
Social media platforms come and go but people hold on to their email addresses for years, even decades.
7. Website analytics
Subscribers are far more likely to click through to your website from your newsletter than they are to find your link in bio or Google you. This helps with your Google ranking too.
8. Repurposing Content
We create so much content in all areas of our business and our followers only see a small percentage of it. Isn't it exhausting? You can add events, press, podcast appearances, testimonials, new products, blog posts, video links and so much more to your newsletter. I've even added my FAQ page and About Me page from my website to my newsletter.
9. Valuing your community
By adding bits and pieces of valuable content, your community will value you and feel like you value them. Just remember that the content needs to make sense for your brand.
How about adding tutorials, recipes, travel tips, how-to guides, quizzes, checklists, freebies, mini-courses, meet-ups to your newsletters?
10. Valuable feedback
If you want to test a new product or launch something, you'll get a more useful and engaged response from an audience that knows you well.
When you write something down and send it out to several hundred people, it's amazing what that does for your motivation to get things done. The feeling of not letting people down can be a great driver for your business.
You might also like...
Hello. My name is Victoria and I'm a stationery addict. Honestly, I love nothing more than walking around Tokyo stationery stores on my solo 'Artist Dates' days, with a special love for the retro-classic mom and pop stationery stores you find in local areas. Japan has some amazing products available that I haven't seen anywhere else that I use on a daily basis in the studio as well as in life. Ideas of where to shop for these lovely items is coming up soon. But first, here are a few of my faves...
1. MT Tape
Any masking tape fans here? I'm really fussy about my masking tape selection, not just for the designs and colours but the quality of the tape itself. MT is my go-to tape due to the durability and stickability, and I don't even mind the extra spend if it stays where it is and looks gorgeous. If there's such a thing as a 'masking tape snob', I'm it.
2. Masking Tape Cutter
This Kokuyo cutter was a revolution to how I cut my masking tape. It cuts in a perfectly straight line, is super ergonomic to use with minimal effort and looks beautiful on my packaging. As the blade is so good, it also means that I use/ waste much less tape.
3. BuJo (Bullet Journal) Body Scanner/ Outfit Stamp
I try to do a bullet journal every day before I start work. Although I don't really use the official BuJo method, I do use an actual journal designed for bullet journalling to plan my days (mine is from Leuchtturm) . I love to think about how I feel at the start of each day and this stamp helps to pin point any pains and issues that I have physically. I also try to plan the feeling that I want at the end of each day which this body shape helps me focus on.
4. Staple-less staple
This cool Harinacs device punches a hole in pieces of paper and somehow folds the bits together to attach them without staples. I have no idea how it works, other than it works and I don't need to buy staples anymore. What's not to love?!
5. Slim Scissors
These slim scissors, about the size of a pen only a bit flatter, are also from Kokuyo. These are the perfect addition to my on-the-go sketchbook kit for those weekends away (remember those?!) or for a grab-and-go day working at a coffee shop or co-working space (pre-Covid). I've always loved to make collages with bits and pieces of tickets and leaflets while I'm on the go, so these are the perfect light-weight, non-bulky pair.
6. Yamato Starch Paste
I love, love, love this glue, used by schools up and down Japan. You can use your fingers to spread it and clean up is fast and easy. Although the plastic packaging is a bit of a turn-off, Yamato have worked hard to make their refills out of paper containers. You can read more about that here.
7. Zebra Mildliners
Perhaps it's because it's Spring that I'm loving all the pastels, or perhaps it's the annoying bleed through the paper of regular highlighters that led me to these Zebra Mildliners. Much more subtle in their colours compared to the 80s/90s versions, these ones show you the important stuff without it being visible from space. The image on the right shows the difference between the Zebra colours and a regular highlighter.
8. Zebra Sarasa Pens
I I ever leave Japan, I am stocking up on YEARS worth of these pens. I'm a pretty heavy-handed writer so I need a sturdy pen to stand up to the pressure (hello sillicone grip?) and they make my handwriting look all grown-up and pretty. And Zebra is always coming up with new and fantastic colours which I just can't resist. And they do refills too.
BONUS INFO: Sarasa means calico or printed cotton chintz in Japanese and was a fabric favoured by the Samurai.
The big question is 'where do I get my hands on all this goodness?' That, my friends, is coming up soon where I'll take you to some stationery stores, stores that carry stationery, some local places and some amazing temples of stationery. Are you in?
I always feature my new blog posts in my newsletter, so get on the list for alerts here.
You might also like...
Super VIP Tanja amused The Club the other day by showing us the Biku earrings she changed into for every client she met on Zoom.
There were five zoom calls and one walking adventure involved in her day, each with a pair of earrings to match the mood.
All the clients were different, so they had no idea that she was changing earrings just for them before the meeting kicked off.
"The fourth client did comment on my 'energizing aura'. I credit the earring challenge to uplifting my mood."
"I loved choosing the next pair, trying to match it to the mood of the topic of conversation. It actually helped me be more intentional about what atmosphere I wanted to create on the call. I had a great time entertaining myself and documenting the journey for the VIP Club."
So there you have it. Slap on your lipstick and pop in your earrings and you'll feel fab while you work.
We'd love to see you in your Biku jewellery on your Zoom calls... and nobody will be able to tell if you're in your joggers.
You might also like...
The new Rise & Shine Collection launches on Monday 1st February 2021.
Two one-of-a-kind pairs of earrings released everyday with some bonus pairs popping up throughout the month in the webshop.I'm adding denim, leather, faux leather, acrylic, vintage beads, charms, painted charms and, of course, vintage kimono to this unique collection.
If you need a reminder of when the launch starts, join the mailing list to get a reminder.
Prices in this collection range from ￥2500-4000 depending on materials and time to make.
All earrings come boxed in a gift box.
You might also like...
Vintage Kimono Braided Neckpiece: 'Kermit'
READY TO SHIP
Have you ever had an idea that won't leave you alone?
That was how the braided neckpiece was born. For several years I've been playing with braids in paracord, cord, obijime and anything I can find. But the kimono cord braid was something that eluded me. I just couldn't work out how to make a continuous 3m kimono cord and had tried so many times that I eventually shelved the idea. Until recently. I finally worked it out and a new line was born.
Lovingly designed for comfort and made by hand in Tokyo from personally-sourced authentic vintage kimono. Despite the volume of the neckpiece, it is surprisingly light and easy to wear.
Comes boxed in a Bikudesigns gift box. Plastic free packaging.
Colour: as green as the frog himself (colours may vary on different devices and monitors)
Materials: vintage kimono fabric, stainless steel, plated brass
Shipping and packaging
IMPORTANT: NOT CURRENTLY SHIPPING TO EVERYWHERE!
Please check the shipping information here before you place your order.
For your information, the Returns and Refund policy is here.
Packaged in plastic-free packaging.
Don't miss the monthly jewellery giveaway, sneak peeks and coupons by subscribing to the insiders' list.
Vintage Kimono Sequin Dangles- Burgundy and Red
Brand new style of 'sequin' earrings made from personally-sourced vintage kimono fabric. Read about the design process here.
A teeny tiny faceted natural amethyst bead is a nod to my past life as a precious metals jewellery designer.
Lovingly made by hand in Shimokitazawa, Tokyo.
Colour: burgundy, red, silver tone (colours may vary on different devices and monitors)
Materials: plated brass, vintage kimono, lucite, natural amethyst
Size: 5.5cm long
Shipping and packaging
Check out the shipping rates here before you place your order.
For your information, the Returns and Refund policy is here.
Don't miss the monthly jewellery giveaway, sneak peeks and coupons by subscribing to the insiders' list.
Congrats to my lovely online creative friend, Lorna from Lorna Gilbert Ceramics on the launch of her fantastic Instagram charity event at the end of this month.
Lorna has encouraged the handmade ceramics community to come together to take part in a one day event to sell their creations to raise money for a charity of their choice. Famous TV potters Keith Brymer Jones, Kate Malone and Sue Pryke (The Great British Throwdown) are donating their work to be raffled off. This sort of pay-it-forward initiative is JUST what the world needs right now.
You can find details of the talented artists taking part, the charities they're supporting and the raffles to win amazing pottery prizes over on Lorna's second Instagram here.
Follow Lorna Gilbert Ceramics on Instagram.
Good luck everyone!
You might also like...
This time last year I was mostly oblivious to Covid-19 and was busy planning my upcoming jewellery collections. With it being a leap year as well as the Tokyo Olympics year, 2020 was feeling particularly hopeful and exciting.
In February the Leap Collection was launched with 29 pairs of earrings (one for each day of Feb) made from all the supplies I've collected over the years. It turned out that one pair per day of one-of-a-kind earrings just wasn't enough, so I then made 2 pairs a day. At the end of the month the Last Leap event rounded it all off. It was a crazy busy month, and my best February ever.
Yet during all this busyness, some time in mid February, a dark cloud appeared in the distance, a grumbling, worrying cloud that was getting closer by the day. I kept 'leaping' into 2020 with gusto, but by the end of February the reality had hit. This wasn't going to be the year my business REALLY took off, this was going to be hard and scary and confusing and awful.
Yet somewhere in that mess of emotions came light. I connected with so many amazing creatives all over the world in 2020 thanks to @indie_roller and I added some new products too. And even though my kids missed heaps of school, we all reconnected as a family on a whole other level. It wasn't all rainbows and butterflies, but we got through and in some ways we rebooted our thinking. Prioritising others can make you do that.
So here I am approaching another year, with a little trepidation, but with more peace and quiet. Welcome to Rise and Shine. The new Collection is launching on February 1st and every single day in February.
You might also like...
What is a FUKUBUKURO?
Traditionally in Japan at New Year businesses bundle up their products and sell them in a 'lucky bag' (the kanji 福袋 (fukubukuro) literally means happy bag). The 'happy' part comes in as you can't actually see what's in the bag before you buy. Fun right? Oh, and there are bargains to be had too, as long as you are buying from places you love.
Is the Biku Fukubukuro like a traditional lucky bag?
Yes...and also no.
YES: There are a number of items at a discount bundle price presented in an actual bag!
NO: Before you buy you know what products are included in the bag and the savings you'll make. There are no end-of-line, random items in the bags. Everything is from current stock or made especially for the bags. This year you can even request certain colours to be included in the bag.
So, how do I grab one?
Click the link here and you can see what's available. Make sure to request your colours before you buy though, otherwise you'll receive a random selection.
Important info for UK customers.
Biku will cease shipping to the UK in 2021 due to changes in VAT after Brexit. The final day for UK purchases is Monday December 28th 2020. I hope to find a work around in the future, but for the time being it will be closed at the end of 2020.
When does the offer close?
Monday 4th January 2021 at midnight.
UK Fukubukuro will be shipped by 30th December, rest of the world and Japan shipping is on Tuesday 5th January 2021.
You might also enjoy...
I've planned so much stuff for Sunday's Extravaganza I just don't know where to start. I'm just sooooo excited that it feels like Christmas has come early!
Hope to see you for some of the events...there are LOTS!
Everything will be happening over on Instagram with some bits and pieces happening on Facebook too.
NOTE: This time I'm observing Tokyo timings due to the 12 hour window!
This extremely strange year has been a challenge for small businesses, but we're not letting all the cancelled in-person holiday events stop us from showing you our handmade work. Now more than ever it's time to shop independent to show our support for the solo businesses out there, the mom and pop outfits, the artists and the artisans.
So here's a simple guide of how to shop:
HOLIDAY MARKETS COMING UP
Thursday 29th October Indie Eco Market- BIKU WILL BE AT THIS ONE CLOSED
Thursday 5th November Indie Christmas Essentials Market CLOSED
Thursday 12th November Indie Baby and Children Market CLOSED
Thursday 19th November Indie Made By Hand Market- BIKU WILL BE AT THIS ONE
Saturday 22nd Nov 8am to 8pm Online Market Extravaganza- BIKU WILL BE AT THIS ONE
Thursday 26th November Indie Art and Illustration Market
Thursday 3rd December Indie Beauty Market
Thursday 10th December Indie Homewares & Foodie Market
Hosting monthly trunk shows online was a necessary decision for the survival of my business during Covid-19 times. All in-person events have been cancelled for the foreseeable future, and shipping overseas has been patchy or still closed to some countries. Simply put, my job is to buy materials, make all the things and then sell them to make a profit for my time, energy and experience. This is my full-time job, my income, not my hobby or charity work.
Calling all kokeshi lovers!
Meet Laetitia Hébert, the founder and owner of Folkeshi, a business celebrating modern day kokeshi and kokeshi artisans. Folkeshi is a webshop dedicated to newly-made kokeshi dolls, kokeshi-inspired goods and Laetitia's book Kokeshi published last year. Laetitia works directly with Japanese artisans, focusing primarily on traditional kokeshi, but has recently started collaborations with creative artisans such as Miura Setsuko.
Originally from France, Laetitia spent 5 years in Japan (2012 to 2017) living in Ashikaga, a small town in Tochigi prefecture. Ashikaga is a very quiet and traditional area which totally challenged Laetitia and her husband to speak and read Japanese.
What would Nan do? That's what I think when I need to solve a problem. My Nan wasn't an especially gifted inventor or scientist, or guru of any kind, but she was practical. She lived through WW2, gave birth to a baby in the final year of the war (my mum) and embraced the 'make do and mend' culture with verve.
Nothing was ever wasted, things were stored for later, things were made from other things, things were given away and things were adapted and fixed. There were tools in the house, in case you needed to make something, and nobody ever seemed to 'get a man in', they just did it themselves.
Nan was a sorter of objects, a giver of things (usually to those less fortunate than her). If she'd heard about the Japanese concept of 'mottainai' in her lifetime she would have nodded sagely because that's how she lived her own life and how she taught my mum to live hers. Waste not, want not. A penny saved is a penny earned. One man's trash is another man's treasure.
This is why I'm so passionate about not wasting things that still have life in them. Why I based a whole business on saving damaged kimono from the landfill and to take the 'mottainai' spirit and run with it in my British way.
In Shimokitazawa I'm always thrilled to see boxes of unwanted things outside homes with a sign saying 'Please take anything you like.' In fact, we've been doing the same for many years outside our home too. It's fantastic to see another generation of 'gifters' coming through with my own children donating their things to the 'Mottainai Box' on a regular basis.
The icing on the cake, the ultimate validation of my brand message and core values filtering through to my customers happened this week. A gorgeous customer took the time and effort to return these earring boxes in pristine condition to be used again. Happy tears. My Nan would be proud.
NOTE: The images above are 'mottainai' items discovered in my area this week. I took what we will use and left the rest.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE...
Cooler days, sweaters, scarves, crisp air (and in East Japan) the bluest of blue cloudless skies.
Can you tell we're coming into my favourite season of the year (in Japan anyway!)? Insects are quietening and the leaves are becoming crisp and tinged with Autumn. Christmas is approaching fast and this year more than any other we'll need a little sparkle to go with our cosy comfort.
'Home is where the heart is', they say, and we have all seen a fair amount of our homes in 2020. Zoom calls, little to no travelling, missing out on seeing family and friends in real life. But we're still here, and we're ready for a bit of cheer and a better 2021.
These Hikari earrings embody the idea of sparkle at home. Handcrocheted, light as a feather loops swish from lucite sparkle studs. As usual this is a limited edition collection with only a few pairs in each colour-way. You can pre-order yours in the webshop and they will be shipped out within a week.
These earrings are launching on Friday 11th September 2020 to the Mailing List.
General release on Saturday 12th September 2020 at 9am.
Living and travelling widely in Australia and Asia over the past 18 years I noticed our beloved beaches and oceans becoming polluted with plastic and harming sea life. As a family we watched a disturbing documentary called 'A Plastic Ocean’. My then 10 year old asked me if people knew much about this plastic problem, I didn’t have an answer for him. The movie had such an impact on us that we took on the challenge of eliminating as much single use plastic from our lives as possible.
Using beeswax wraps is one way we can reduce our impact on the environment and embrace sustainable living. Beeswax wraps are the perfect alternative to plastic wrap for keeping food fresh. They are natural, reusable and versatile. Beeswax food wraps are perfect for storing cheese and prolonging the life of vegetables and fruit (avocados and apples do especially well). They are also good for covering any leftover food in bowls or for carrying sandwiches/onigiri and snacks on the go.
I absolutely love sharing my story with others and listening to other people’s stories. I am consistently inspired to continue what I am doing. Working together, we can reduce our plastic waste and care for our world for future generations.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE...
It's been another month of staying home, no public transport or eating out. The C-19 cases are rising rapidly in Tokyo and the governor has asked us to refrain from travelling outside of Tokyo until cases slow.
I hear many people talking about wanting to 'live' rather than 'exist' these days, but I believe that you can 'live' by staying home and trying out a new way of life. The old world as we know it has gone, I've already grieved the loss of it, now it's time to build a new way of living. And I'm embracing it. Are you?
BUILDING: Overseas Makers Guild
It's a small but perfectly formed group of makers who are in different stages of setting up their handmade businesses overseas. We are already becoming quite international!
I'm here to support, to cheer-lead and to help with the logistics of setting up overseas.
Want to join? Click here to join.
MAKING: Red shiso cordial
So my hubby came home with a HUGE bag of red shiso last week and I couldn't think of anything to cook with it. So I invented a quick cordial recipe and then froze it into ice cubes. I now have red shiso cordial to last me the summer!
Big handful of red shiso (about twice the amount in the photo)
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
The juice of a lemon
2 cups of water
Sign up here to the newsletter for more recipes.
DOING: 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles
It's not something I imagined I'd be into in my 40's but this pandemic has brought out different sides to us all hasn't it? This one was from a lovely friend who visited from Australia last year and we already have the next one lined up.
Anyone else into puzzles?
LISTENING: Conversations of Inspiration Podcast
I have to be honest that I mostly listen to business podcasts while I work in the studio or go for a walk these days and this Podcast recommendation is no exception.
Holly Tucker is a true inspiration who set up Not on the High Street to help handmade businesses sell their work online. In this podcast she meets with British founders working in a variety of fields who tell their story of how they set up their businesses. So many heartfelt moments and inspiration for anyone in business.
Apple previews are here.
EATING: Home made soda bread
Although we're not into the hot part of Summer in japan...yet...I still don't always fancy a hot meal in the evenings. Open sandwiches with home made bread are my fave go-to.
We still go back to the original soda bread recipe we've been using for a while now as it's so easy and so instant! No yeast, no proving, no kneading. What's not to love?
If you'd like to make your own bread, check out my recipe here.
Something has been bubbling under the surface for a long time. Something that I think I didn't really want to admit to myself if I'm totally honest.
I left teaching 10 years ago because I couldn't imagine life as a mum and as a full-time educator. This is the hand that many women are dealt after having children but I felt it was an easy choice that was best for the family at that point in time. I already secretly knew that I wanted to set up in business on a full-time basis, having previously had a side-business since being a teen.
It was a juggle with one little one in Nursery and another as a tiny baby. I learned a lot in those first years, more than my brain could take at times. I can't tell you how often I wanted to give it all up, how I had no idea what a brand actually was never mind owning the skills to build one. I was bootstrapping (self-funding) all the way and it was just me, a studio and an extremely supportive hubby. Being a solo business owner in the handmade field means that you have to learn how to become a photographer, graphic designer, writer, social media manager, marketer, accountant, website designer and salesperson. Oh, and design and make products at the same time.
It sounds as if I'm complaining. I'm not. I've never felt freer, more in control or self-motivated in my whole working life. And I should be happy with that right? Well, not exactly. You see the thing I talked about at the beginning, that niggly feeling, that secret fear is that I'm still a teacher after all, despite being out of the classroom for a decade.
I want a world where people can work flexibly, feel like they're making a contribution to their family's finances, take their business wherever they travel and have fun while they work. Most of all I want to share my tips and tricks with you, so you don't have to work as crazily as I did in the beginning!
It's been a long time coming, but my new FREE Facebook group OVERSEAS MAKERS GUILD to support you in building your handmade business overseas is now LIVE! (When I say 'group' there's actually only me in it so far, as you guys are the first to know.) If you are planning, in the process of setting up, or in the early stages of launching a handmade business overseas, we'd love to have you join us.
My name is Alison and I’m a half-Spanish, half-English wife and mum, living in Tokyo.
I moved over to Tokyo from London, England two years ago with my husband and two boys, due to my husband’s job relocating, temporarily, to an office here.
Our life now in Tokyo is such a contrast to our previous one in London, where I was a teacher and dyslexia specialist - but we felt very ready for a new adventure and chapter in our lives!
There are many aspects of Japan and Japanese culture that we appreciate and enjoy- one of them being the amazing food! We love eating sushi and have found many little sushi restaurants hidden away around unexpected corners nearby. We have also noticed that shopping is a popular activity here. Our favourite places to shop are in Shibuya, Roppongi and Omotesando - I particularly like Tokyu Hands and Parts Club, mainly because I have always been a fan of all crafts and jewellery making!
I first met Victoria and Bikudesigns at a Christmas bazaar, where she had her beautiful jewellery on display at a stall. I was so impressed by the amazing way that she had used vintage kimono material to create stunning and original pieces, that I immediately became a Biku Fan!
You might also enjoy...
I have these ideas that just won't leave me alone. You know the kind? When you're walking around the supermarket, in the shower, while trying to get to sleep at night. They aren't troubling ideas, on the contrary actually. For me, they come back again and again and then life and studio work gets in the way.
The magic is in the quiet times (that COIVD-19 has given us aplenty) that I have a chance to try these ideas on for size. Sometimes they work and sometimes they are thrown on the failure pile. That's the reality of design work; For every successful project there are several that just don't work out how you imagined.
This is exactly how the kimono sequin was born. It's not the sparkly plastic kind, but made of unloved vintage kimono fabric that I sourced at an antique market or from a kimono dealer, damaged but parts of it still usable. The trick was to work out how to cut the fabric into perfect discs to make something resembling a sequin.
Cue the 'mottainai' side of my brain. What do we already have that could help me? I didn't want to go out and buy new tools, I was sure that we had what I needed.
And then i remembered hubby's leather work toolbox. It's packed full of wonderful things that I have no idea how to use. But I remembered there were leather punches, all in different sizes.
After treating the kimono with a special glue, it works very much like leather. It can be folded, punched, cut with a craft knife and it doesn't fray. So that's where I started. With a mallet, a punch and some treated kimono. And lots of patience and an open mind.
Welcome to the monthly Sparkle List, a round-up of things I'm buying, eating, reading, growing, making, seeing, watching, doing, learning, listening to... It's like a Pinterest board, in words (and some pictures).
Would love to know what you think!
A month of birthdays and Fathers’ Day and uncertainty over shipping times meant we shopped all gifts and cards online with UK based independent businesses to be sent directly to family members.
Shopping small is important to me and supporting these businesses in the time of Covid is essential to keep them going. I want them around when we come out of all this.
This lovely lot sent photos of themselves out and about in their new headbands. I don't have too many words for the joy I feel at seeing these happy faces finding a way to tame their Covid hairstyles while they patiently wait for it to be safe enough to visit the salon.
Here's what they said in their own words:
"I think it’s a mix of new accessories, sunshine, boy back at school part time and new biz ideas! Plus I turn 40 next week! How exciting!!! Thanks for adding a bit of joy to my week!"
"All four headbands arrived and are beautiful! And so comfortable to wear!"
"How am I going to choose? Love them both, thank you! "
Victoria: Awwwww. You all look so smiley and lovely!!
Customer:That's the magic of your headbands!
More headbands have been restocked and new colours and styles are coming all the time! See you over in the webshop.
Welcome to Kelly Wetherille, the multi-passionate brains behind the new bath and body brand, Shizen Natura. This month I'm delighted to be collaborating with Kelly on the Biku Self-Care Kit, a treat kit for these uncertain times. Get your kit in the Biku webshop here.
What do you sell/ make/ do?
I sell natural products that help people to get back to basics and away from all the nasty chemicals that permeate our lives. Everything is handmade in small batches, using just a few easy to understand ingredients, most of which come from plants.
Tell us about your business story? What is the 'why' behind your brand?
For my day job I am a journalist covering the fashion and beauty industries in Japan. I get a lot of freebies from companies, and I became very conscious of the excess waste. At the same time, I started looking more closely at the products I use every day and their ingredients. Even those that professed to be natural often weren't, and they were always packaged in plastic. I thought that maybe I could do better for myself and the planet, and I started developing my own recipes that would be simpler, more natural versions of the products I loved. I did this as a hobby for about three years before I started sharing some of my creations with friends as gifts. Eventually those friends started asking to purchase more of my products from me, and that's when I decided to turn my hobby into a business.
What's your business philosophy?
I think every business must at its heart have something to give back; something that makes the world a better place. Existing solely for the purpose of profits is no longer acceptable, and many young consumers feel the same way. If your business is honest and ethical, sales will follow.
What problems are you solving for your customer?
Providing simple, all-natural yet effective daily products that are not packaged in plastic.
How can people shop from you?
I am still working on my website (I have three other jobs, so it's taking me a while!), but for now people can send me a direct message via my Instagram or Facebook pages.
My name is Amy, I'm an Australian with a long held love of Japan and fabrics.
I first came across Biku Designs when I was living in Tokyo and instantly loved the concept of turning vintage kimonos into modern jewelry to be worn and loved any or everyday. I met Victoria at an event she held to bring small business owners and Instagram users together. One of the things I noticed that day and have admired since is how wonderful she is at supporting other women and bring us together.
I'm now living back in Australia and I love my Biku Designs necklace as a little piece of Japan that I took with me. I pop on my necklace when I want to add a bit of interest and colour to an outfit. It never fails to draw compliments! I also love Biku pieces as special gifts - a one-off souvenir that I know will be worn and loved.
My business is the yin to the Biku yang! I run an online store specialising in modern fabrics by independent Japanese designers. I love supporting these artists to create their original textiles and inspiring creativity amongst the sewists in my community at the same time. I named my business after my second son who was born in Tokyo at the same time as the idea for my business - Indy Bindy.
I first came to Japan as a high school student for a year long exchange and Japan has drawn me back many times over the years. I completed my latest 4 year stint in January of this year and know that I will be back many times more!
I not only love the fabric, but also the food, martial arts and the modern and ancient culture that are both alive and well today.
You can find my fabrics at https://indybindy.com.au/ and you can follow along with my sewing and general adventures at http://www.instagram.com/indybindyfabrics
Tell us about your work.
I create Japan-inspired artworks of pen and watercolor. I sell original artworks at gallery exhibitions and also offer my designs as prints, postcards, illustration books, and more.
Does your artwork have a story?
My illustrations express intersections.
Intersections of reality and fantasy, of familiar and unfamiliar, and intersections of identity.
As a foreigner living in Japan there can be a lot of focus placed on cultural identity, and the concept of “insider” versus “outsider.” Art is one place where there are no limits and we don’t have to be one thing or another. By creating a space between reality and imagination, between “inside” and “outside,” I feel I’ve found a space where I don’t have to define who I am. It is a place where viewers can find their own world as well and where everyone is welcome.
Do you have a business philosophy?
I believe that it is important to create from the heart. Both the artist and the viewer can feel a good vibe from artwork that is genuine. I will only put out a design that I’ve really put my love into and I have grown to trust that that energy will be conveyed naturally to my patrons as well.
As an individual creating art and running a business I also value keeping a personal touch with customers. I always add a handwritten note to my webstore orders, to let my customers know it really is me every time at the other end of their order and that I am filled with personal gratitude for their support.
How did you come up with the idea for your business?
Art has always been something I’ve loved to do, so creating artwork has never been a question. Since moving to Tokyo I became aware of a wide variety of amazing opportunities and venues to connect with other artists, showcase art, and find new fans. As I had the chance to connect with more people I was motivated and encouraged to widen the variety of offerings using my designs, such as making smaller printed merchandise that was more accessible, especially for younger patrons. Now I have a range of merchandise for tabling events and webstore sales, and also continue to offer original artworks at galleries.
What sets your artwork apart from others?
My subject matter and art style fit into that “in between” space. My experience living in Japan has evolved both my identity and my art style and viewers seem to pick up on that. Both Japanese and non-Japanese patrons find my designs unique, yet oddly relatable. I love thinking that how I express my imagination and experience through artwork might help open up more flexibility for everyone who feels like they are in an “in between” space living in Tokyo.
I think original art is often forgotten as an option for gifts or personal memories. I hope that I can remind people of the option and help them find something special and unique.
Find out more about Erica Ward Illustration
Click the “Shop” link from the menu on my website to see my available products. For inquiries about illustration or commission artworks, feel free to drop me a message in the “Contact” section or on social media.
To hear about upcoming exhibitions, events, and to peruse my artwork, feel free to follow me on Instagram and Facebook.
Website Instagram Facebook
You might also enjoy...
Welcome to The Tokyo Small Business Round-up, the place to find your favourite businesses who are trading online.
When this whole thing has passed (and it WILL pass), imagine the businesses you want to still see operating. Support them by buying vouchers, ordering takeout, learning with them online or taking advantage of their online offers. If you are not in a position to buy, you can still help by following the businesses on their social media channels, commenting and sharing their posts. It would mean the world to us Tokyo small business owners if you could share this post to wherever your Tokyo friends are hanging out.
If you'd like to be added to the list, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your support. Stay well.
FOOD AND DRINK
apéro. is a wine bar and restaurant located between Aoyama and Omotesando and run by French wine lovers Guillaume and Chloé Dupérier.
At apéro, our wines are directly sourced from France as we seek to provide you with a very personal, intimate wine selection that reflects both the passion and craftsmanship of the winemakers we love the most. Treat yourself with a unique and pleasurable experience by joining the apéro. community!
apéro is now delivering wine with a special discount of -30% on all items! Get your favorite bottles delivered directly to your home by our team, everyday from 11:00 to 21:30 for people in Shinjuku, Shibuya, Minato, Bunkyo, & Chiyoda.
Check out the complete wine list here : https://apero.co.jp/en/wines
Order now and get a -30% discount on all price tags shown online !
Delivered right to your home by the apéro team (limited to Shibuya, Shinjuku, Chiyoda, Bunkyo & Minato) or to be picked-up directly at apéro. wine bar aoyama.
Email : email@example.com
Phone : 03-6325-3893
Address : Japan, 〒107-0062 Tokyo, Minato-ku, Minami Aoyama 3−4−6, Aoyama346 Building, 3F
In cash or credit card upon delivery
Or "cash-on delivery" (Yamato, EMS...)
If you're in lock down, isolation or just needing a pick-me-up, I'm here to serve! The world has been turned upside down and we've become obsessed about the news, which let's face it, is making us feel downright sad.
I'm predicting terrible sales for Biku in April, so instead of moping about and feeling sorry for my business, I'm here to brighten my own (and hopefully your) days.
The whole of April will see me doing things a bit out of the ordinary. If you're in the VIP Club you'll be invited to play ZINGO! (the Biku version of BINGO but in a Zoom chat) with loads of prizes. There'll be jokes, giveaways, a trunk show, kimono colouring and probably some dancing also this month. There will definitely be lots of making in the studio and hopefully a Zoom Make-Along thrown in too.
I need to keep busy, so let's GO!!!!!!! Are you with me?
P.S. Oh, I almost forgot, there will also be free shipping this month.
Just enter the code: WASHYOURHANDS at checkout. (Not applicable to Kokeshi Boxes sorry!)
You might also like...
I'm Victoria, the founder, designer and creator at Bikudesigns, a vintage kimono accessories brand in Tokyo, Japan.