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.
"I have always been very passionate about books and used to work in the cultural field in France. I was 25 when we moved to Japan and soon realized that changing career was a necessity. I tried my hand at journalism but I was rather terrible at finding work. Then I started a small jewelry brand but after my pregnancy, I distanced myself from it."
"It's when I discovered the complexity of traditional kokeshi that things aligned! I started collecting and selling kokeshi while my very young son slept. About 6 months in, it became quite clear that I had a passion to show and offer newly made kokeshi by current artisans. Even in Japan, new kokeshi can be quite difficult to get hold of and it's even harder for collectors abroad. I visited workshops in Tohoku, talked with kokeshi artisans and pivoted my business."
For Laetitia, the most exciting aspect of her work is choosing all the beautiful designs and opening the many parcels full of kokeshi that arrive at her studio in France.
"I am doing my best to feature new artisans, and to follow-up with makers I have worked with before. This month I should get new works by two Togatta craftsmen: Hayasaka Masahiro, who trusted me when Folkeshi was at the very early stages, and Komatsu Rika, who just completed her kokeshi training."
SHOP AND FOLLOW FOLKESHI
Worldwide shipping is 5€ no matter the size of the parcel
INSTAGRAM: (i love DMs!) : www.instagram.com/folkeshi
The blog has some informational pieces, pictures of kokeshi workshops etc.: www.folkeshi.com/blog
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I'm Victoria, the founder, designer and creator at Bikudesigns, a vintage kimono accessories brand in Tokyo, Japan.