We've all been there... searching the internet blindly to find that special gift for an important birthday, a special thank you, a pick-me-up for a friend, a graduation, Mothers' Day, Fathers' day...the list really goes on. We spend hours and hours scrolling for that 'special something'.
But why do we feel the need to gift that special something in the first place?
1. It shows the receiver that we know them.
2. It shows them we care enough to go the extra mile to find something they'll love.
3. It demonstrates our good taste.
4. We want the receiver to feel unique and valued.
5. We want to support small businesses and all they stand for.
6. We want to shop sustainably, buying items from brands that are not mass-produced.
7. We want a story. Of the hands who made it, the history, where the idea came from.
As a maker, I see the work that artisans put into their work and support them as much as I can. I appreciate that they do the same in return for my business.
I'm often asked where the Biku concept came from. Back in the day my response was a rather long-winded affair with twists and turns and tales of unrequited design love. But after several years of making, sourcing, talking to kimono vendors, thinking deeply, learning how to pitch, studying, focusing on brand messaging and thinking a LOT more, it boils down to this simple phrase. 'Re-purposing forgotten things.' Forgotten things, places and people make me sad. I wondered, 'How can I make the useless useful? How can I make the once-loved re-loved? How can I make the damaged beautiful? How can I make forgotten things remembered?' And in that process I remembered myself again.
On a more detailed level, Biku has a bunch of values that set it apart from other businesses, values that make it unique. The concept is based around 4 elements that came from my own life as a mum and business owner.
The Biku brand is still developing and more ideas are swimming around my head every day. It's pretty exciting stuff to be on this ride, Want to join me?
Subscribe to hear exclusive info about new designs, events and exciting changes ahead.
Recently in an eco- group that I'm in on Facebook there was a thread about dish scrubbies, the ones that are made from yarn and are either knitted or crocheted, can be washed in the washing machine and contain no plastic. In Japan they're called 'tawashi' and have been a thing since the beginning of time. Unfortunately, it seems that with the march of progress, these traditional daily objects have been temporarily forgotten....and you know how I feel about forgotten things.
Not long ago, I saw them for sale for a reasonable price at a local yarn shop, run by an aging 'obachan', but it's mainly the older generation who still make and use them in their daily lives. Recently though it does seem that they are having a minor comeback as I found a great book in my local craft shop all about handmade tawashi.
The Biku brand is all about sustainability and slow-living, and I guess that's something you guys are into too. So I put together a quick tutorial of how to make a very basic tawashi so you can have a go at home. I'll also be doing a little Tawashi Giveaway soon, so make sure to sign up to my newsletter to hear all about it.
Maru Tawashi Tutorial
Level: Intermediate beginner
What you need:
A crochet hook- not too large, not too small! We are aiming to reduce our consumption so use what you have, or borrow one!
Some yarn- anything will do (recycled from an old sweater is even better for the environment)
A darning needle
I'm not a professional crocheter, I just crochet for fun and for life! I'll leave the more challenging projects to people like the super-talented (and infinitely patient) Vicky from Ice Flower Crochet.
Uppercase Magazine, is a magazine for the curiously creative, filled with typeface, textiles, paper, art, surface pattern, vintage ephemera and general loveliness. Available by subscription or in art and design book stores internationally.
I was already a big fan of Uppercase before being published in the magazine, so I guess that was the first step to getting on the pages.
Many of you know that I took part in Marie Forleo's B School this Spring, something that took me two years to pluck up the courage to apply for (hello self-doubt). B School is a two month business course for entrepreneurs who want to grow their business from the heart. In one of the units we were invited to ask ourselves, 'How would you behave if you were the best in the world at what you do?' The activities that followed involved choosing three people we admire and who we want to align ourselves with, shoulder to shoulder.
I knew immediately that one of my people would be Janine Vangool, editor extraordinaire, who self-publishes Uppercase Magazine every quarter as well as other books and publications. She is a powerhouse in the design magazine world and I wanted a bit of it!
The activity went on to ask students to research everything about the people they chose. Read their latest blog post, find out which books they'd written, what they like/ dislike, follow their social media channels and reach out in some way. Initially I wasn't feeling so bold, so my first reach-out was to subscribe to the newsletter. (Lame, I know!)
Then, during the research period, I discovered that Janine was also a B Schooler...I saw it as a sign. And then when I saw a 'Submissions' tab, I clicked to see that she wanted people to write about 'Perfectly Imperfect', and the submission was in a week's time. At this point, I asked myself if I wanted this enough to write the article and reshoot the photos using my DSLR camera for the quality and size they needed for print with only a week to go. The answer was of course, yes. The stars were too aligned to ignore it.
After clicking the submit button, I have to admit that I felt slightly nauseous. But what I knew in my heart is if you don't try you are 100% sure to fail, not a single chance of success.
A few weeks later with continued Uppercase radio silence, I assumed my submission had been unsuccessful. Surprisingly, I wasn't that disappointed, I just chalked it up to experience and was proud to have put myself out there. In my eyes I'd already been successful. Taking the steps and not fearing failure was the drive and the win. Who knew?
The icing on the cake was when the congratulations email arrived in my inbox, then when the magazine itself arrived in my post box. Reading the submissions and articles from the amazing Uppercase community that Janine has built was inspirational, and with Biku nestled among those beautiful pages, I quietly thanked Marie.
They're back in stock after almost selling out completely at The Big Summer Upload.
In fact, the brand new collection is now selling quite quickly over in the VIP Club, so I guess I'll be making another batch for the late summer collection. This launch we're doing things a bit differently as you get to choose your bezel finish and the necklace style as well as the fabric. This makes your piece perfectly bespoke and designed for you without the bespoke price tag. Everyone's a winner!
I need your colour ideas for the new Autumn/ Winter collection, so please do leave a comment or message me with your ideas. I'm also going to be adding some sashiko pieces as well as Boro and vintage Tenugui for A/W. Which ones would you like to see?
Sashiko: decorative reinforcement stitches used for mending and patching. Traditional decorative sashiko uses mainly indigo fabric with white stitches.
Boro: Literally 'rags'. Fabric that has been reinforced with patches and stitches over many decades. Boro is a highly collectible and expensive textile and is usually blue.
Tenugui: traditional Japanese hand towel made from cotton.
How can I buy one?
This launch is for subscribers to the Bikudesigns Newsletter only.
The listings will be uploaded to a closed area of the Bikudesigns website and a secret link will be mailed to subscribers' inboxes the day before the launch . Payment is via credit card.
If you want to buy, sign up to the mailing list here.
The launch is finally live and coming into its last few days. It took a lot out of us to get to this point yet it was all worth it. And probably not in the way you’re thinking. The release was so limited that we were never going to become overnight millionaires!
Alex and I started back in October 2018 with the inkling of an idea that we wanted to collaborate on a product line in some way. Alex sourced and ordered the hand-beaded/embroidered bags from an artisan she’d discovered in India and it was then up to me to design and make jewellery prototypes that our customers would love.
And that’s where I got a bit stuck. You see, I’m a sucker for colour and pattern and every single kimono I had in stock just wasn’t right. And then I went to the Boroichi in January and found ‘the one’. There she was hanging on a rack looking a little unloved and in mostly great condition. I knew immediately what she would become when I breathed new life into her forgotten fabric.
So the collection was ready and could now picture the type of shoot we wanted. After many Pinterest boards focusing on the look and feel of the shoot, wardrobe and even poses, we were ready to approach our models. There was also a process behind this. We first wanted to make sure that the models were women we knew. Real people, with real bodies and real lives and all very different from each other.
We wanted to enjoy ourselves on the day and show our customers that our products work equally well in formal or casual situations, for any body type, hair colour, skin tone or age. No discrimination.
We didn’t let the fact that we had had no experience of running a photo shoot stop us. No, it wasn’t perfect (we forgot to pack a hairbrush for the location shoot and it was a bit windy and dry - hello static!). We weren’t sure of how much to direct the shoot as we were worried that we would step on our photographer’s toes. I now realise that having a camera directly linked to a laptop is essential for the creative director to see what the camera sees. It so hard standing at an angle (out of shot) to know what you’re getting. But it still turned out fine.
We went into the shoot to learn a new skill not to make sales. It worked out that this was cheaper and more effective than any course could ever have been. A course would have been helpful to set the steps in place, but it wouldn’t have helped us to remember to pack a hairbrush.
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A little close-up of the Kim collection which comprises of the Meera clutch, Musubime neckpiece and cuff. We'll be launching very soon and we're getting so excited to push that button on launch day. Are you with us?
Remember the Bikudesigns x Turquoise Port creative collaboration we keep talking about? Well today you can see some of the limited edition items in close-up that will be launched VERY soon.
The Meera clutch is made by hand in India from a combination of gold rattan, hand-embroidery and hand-beading. Inside there is a nifty little detachable antique bronze chain making this a perfect little bag for a brunch or evening cocktails. It's so easy to dress up or down depending on the event.
The Musubime cuff is so light and easy to wear that you won't even know it's there. Made from a turquoise vintage iro-muji kimono, the bracelet gives you a little hint of the matchy-matchy with the Meera clutch, without overdoing it.
A couple of days ago Alex from Turquoise Port and I launched our creative collaboration project and cheekily didn't show you the items we have been working on. So here they are on an actual person, on a street in Tokyo. All of the jewellery pieces are made from a single turquoise iro-muji vintage kimono, sourced at January's Boroichi.
Our collection comprises of:
Meera clutch-hand embroidered and beaded with a chain strap
Harisashi stud earrings
Harisashi dangle earring
Harisashi fabric pendant on a chain (long or short)
Launch day is fast approaching so make sure you are firmly in the loop to hear about when and how you can get your hands on these limited edition pieces.
Thank you to our amazing models:
Victoria Close from Bikudesigns talks kimono, business, Japanese design, life in Tokyo and all the things she loves.