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
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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!
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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.
I'm Victoria, the founder, designer and creator at Bikudesigns, a vintage kimono accessories brand in Tokyo, Japan.