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