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