Are you a traditional kimono fan?
I just couldn't leave this one on the rack at the recent Boroichi (rag market) as the deep indigo colour just spoke to me. I'm a sucker for complimentary colour-ways and this deep blue and orange pushed me to make the deal with the vendor. Did I need it for my collection. Errrr nope! But do I love it? Errrr yep! So that's all I needed to know to add it to the other forgotten treasures in my studio.
I'm imagining this fabric in a multi-pendant neckpiece. How should I use it?
I love to hear your ideas, so please leave a comment below.
Mottainai (loosely translated as ‘it’s a shame to waste’) is not just woven through my business but has been entwined in my life for as long as I can remember. ⠀
🔶5 years old, making models from recycled containers at the kitchen counter while my mum baked. ⠀
🔶8 years old, dressing up in vintage 1950s underskirts (for play) and twinsets (in life). ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
🔶At 14, desperate to have skinny jeans (the first time around), and my grandmother taking in the legs so I could be more ‘on-trend’. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
🔶At 15, trawling charity shops for vintage beads, disassembling them, washing them and creating something new. ⠀⠀
I can’t imagine a life without regret and sadness when I see unused objects. And here I am loving my ¥50 cup, my ¥100 plate and my ¥200 lacquer tray. They couldn’t be more valuable to me even if they were dipped in gold. ⠀⠀
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
#mottainai #mottainailife #zerowaste #persimmon #driedfruit #handmade #handmadeceramics #ceramiclover #leafplate #takeamoment #appreciatebeauty #lostthings #makerslovemakers #lovewhatyouhave #williammorrisphilosophy
We all love connecting through social media don't we? I'm sure, like me, that you've made fabulous friends, or sold things or made connections for collaborations. I communicate all my events through social media channels, have a VIP Club for all the Bikufans, show BTS (behind the scenes) peeks at Tokyo life through Instagram/ Facebook stories. But I don't OWN any of it. Every follower, every comment, like, share they all belong to someone else and if Mr. Zuckerberg decides to pull the plug, everything is gone. The most important thing of all will be gone; my connection to you and the Biku Community.
So, the only sure-fire way to stay connected is through email. It sounds old-fashioned (a bit '90s) doesn't it? But please don't lose touch with me...it's easy to say, 'Oh I follow you on Insta' or 'Yes, I follow your Facebook'...but I value your support and don't want you to be lost in the ether.
If you love what Bikudesigns stands for, and are interested in seeing new and exclusive content straight into your inbox, then please subscribe! There are things in my newsletter that I don't mention anywhere else.
Sign up here. Please?
January Fukubukuro have all been mailed out and should have arrived in their forever homes by now. A number of fabulous customers have revealed the contents of their 'lucky bag' via social media. It's so exciting to get feedback, so keep it coming and keep tagging!
One super-kind customer in Canada went a HUGE step further this month and blogged about her Biku Fukubukuro experience on her wonderful kimono blog. If you are a kimono lover and haven't come across Diane's blog yet, head on over to Kimono Tsuki. Diane is also on Instagram @kimonotsuki
"I’ve been admiring the jewellery from Bikudesigns for quite a while now. Owned and created in Tokyo by a lovely woman named Victoria Close, all the beautiful items are made using recycled kimono fabric and representing the values of mottainai. Between gift shopping during the holidays and making more practical purchases like tatoushi and arms for the mannequin I didn’t have much of a budget for pretty fun things. However, to celebrate the new year they released a fukubukuro (福袋), or lucky bag. This a tradition where vendors will offer a bag or bundle with a surprise selection of products available for a really steep discount.
I snatched one up right away, knowing it would give me a lovely variety of items to wear and feature, and I’m so glad I did..."
Thanks for being such a great year. No really, you rocked!
There were some big wins for Bikudesigns this year and some big things I learned for the future. .
Things I’m grateful for in 2018:
❤️ The chance to work creatively on tangible products as well as on my business everyday.
❤️The support and understanding from my family when I had to work nights and weekends.
❤️ Working with inspirational people who kept me on track, encouraged me to think bigger and gain confidence.
❤️ People coming to find me for interviews, podcasts etc without press releases!
❤️ The opportunity to help the entrepreneur community in Tokyo through Instamingle and the Women’s start-up Club at FEW.
❤️ The fabulous women who agreed to be interviewed for my blog.
❤️ And to you guys who stick by my business, who comment, like, share, open up those newsletters and tell their friends about my mission to repurpose forgotten things.
Here’s to 2019. I have some big plans up my sleeve, so I hope you’ll subscribe to my list to be first to hear all about it.
See you on the other side!
I'm trying to get my Facebook page to 4 figures as a Christmas gift to myself! I know, I know, the numbers don't mean anything.... but it would be really, REALLY nice if you could help!
So, there are a couple of ways to help increase my following. One is to invite your friends to like my page directly from the cover photo drop-down menu. This is not part of the competition, just if you are feeling particularly kind and giving in this season!
The second way is to join the Christmas Giveaway over on my Facebook post.
THE PRIZE: A Bikudesigns gift voucher worth Y5000 to shop in anyway you like. Put the money towards a bespoke piece, spend it all in one go or gift the voucher to someone.
THE DRAW: December 24th 2018 by random generator.
HOW TO ENTER: Head over to this Facebook post to join in the fun.
The British School in Tokyo
5-6pm Faculty shopping
6-8.30pm BST Community and friends
Curated by Bikudesigns and Turquoise Port
Bikudesigns: Vintage kimono jewellery
Turquoise Port: Home Decor
Erica Ward Illustration: Art
From Juju With Love: Art
Kamihoseki: Origami jewellery
Anne-Marie Peters Ceramics
A Joy to Behold: Soaps, scrubs and soaps
Jikuu: Artisan-made Japanese cooking knives
Eco Hachi Living: Wax wraps
Swan and Lion: British food including mince pies
Ring and Wraps: cashmere wraps and scarves
Mamam Leatherwork: Handcrafted leather bags
Paradiddle: prints and bags
Vintage Kimonos: accessories and bags
Noox: toys, bags and pouches
Kintsugi: Hand created home decor pieces
Kodomo Paradis: Hand printed tees for kid and adults
This year I made the decision to offer plastic-free packaging at Bikudesigns inspired by the efforts our family has been making to reduce our plastic consumption.
If you see bubble-wrap in your parcel, you can guarantee that it is recycled, perhaps a few times over. All jewellery is wrapped in a sheet of tissue paper, packaged in small paper bags or paper boxes lined with tissue paper. If you would like a recycled magazine envelope please request this at checkout. At in-person events, I'm happy to hand your jewellery over to you to wear or put in your own bag. And I will ask you if you need one of my bags if you have bought a few items...and those bags are made of paper with paper handles.
Thank you to Jo at the Tokyo Chapter for recognising my small efforts to make my business greener. If you haven't read her blog, it's a must read for everyone in Tokyo, with or without kids and anyone getting ready to visit.
Read The Tokyo Chapter blog post here.
Photo credit: Johanna MacGregor
Bespoke Order Pricing
I'm three years in to my business relaunch and things are getting bigger and growing fast. I now have to make sure that I am covering all my costs as well as being paid for my time.
Buying a piece of my jewellery isn't just the raw materials and the time it takes me to make it. The hours of design, discarded prototypes, sourcing fabrics, travel expenses, IT equipment, packaging supplies, website hosting, accountancy fees, utilities, studio rental not to mention the hours of training I have undergone (and the money I've invested) to develop the skills to make the finished item.
I have known for some time that my business model didn't make very much sense. Why was I selling a bespoke piece (designed with the customer, emails going backwards and forwards, pulling out kimono silks and making a single piece at a time) for the same price as one I made in a batch of 10 (which is a far more ergonomic production model)?
In the next few weeks I'll be rolling out online bespoke packages (the elite line of Bikudesigns) for you to order directly. I'm trying hard to streamline the process, and I realise that the new pricing structure may be too expensive for some. But I believe I am now charging the correct price for my exclusive work.
You can still buy off the rack for cheaper than the bespoke line, and cheaper still in the VIP Club. But if you are in the market for something exclusive, designed with you, FOR you, then the bespoke package is for you. And if it's not for you then, I hope you find something you love somewhere else (hopefully in my VIP Club).
This month Tokyo-based adventurer, photographer, graphic designer and jewellery designer Janine Vleugel Naoi talks about the blurred line between work and play and the importance of finding beauty in the everyday.
Where do you come from and when did you last live there?
I’m from Melbourne, Australia. Specifically about 60km from the city in a beautiful beach side town on the Mornington Peninsula. I last lived there about 18 years ago, then moved to Melbourne city where I and last lived about 15 years ago. I lived in Amsterdam for 3 years before coming to Japan, so I've been here for 12 years.
What was your life like as a child growing up in Australia? Did your early life have any impact on how you think/ live now?
Yes, in kind of an opposite effect kind of way. It was a fairly suburban/beachy area, and everyone was into either surfing or AFL football. That really wasn't for me, as I was always creative and never liked mainstream ways of thinking. I was quite shy and doing my own thing, and always felt a bit embarrassed doing the things that everyone else was into.
Did you always have an interest in Japan or did you just want to travel in general?
Having a graphic design background I was always interested in Japanese design for its rich tradition, and on the flip-side, its craziness. I visited Tokyo as a pit-stop going to Europe, and although I loved the week or so I spent in Tokyo, my heart and mind were heading to Europe, so nothing actually happened about "Japan" until I met a mysterious and handsome young Japanese man (haha now my husband).
You are involved in many different businesses with your husband can you tell us about the work you do?
Having a graphic design background led me to eventually work in a communications company here in Tokyo, however having self-employed parents I always wanted to have that flexibility myself (also, Tokyo... need I say more?).
I had the chance to join my husband's parents jewelry design business in 2011 on the condition that I bring in freelance design work to help support myself, and bring new customers. Alongside learning the skill of jewelry design from my father-in-law and eventually designing some of the collections, I take care of a lot of the visual marketing for the business including graphic design (of course ), photography, visual merchandising, social media, online site including our online store, all the way through to dispatching online sales domestically and worldwide. I also sometimes also say "irashaimase" to customers in our Ginza store.
When I'm not doing that, we also have a photography business which started through my graphic design work which started as mostly corporate/commercial work, and now we do a lot of personal portraits, wedding photography, etc. We are also exclusive photographers for Getty images, and ambassador for a few outdoor brands.
On the side, we do some travel consultation which was the result of demand as we made a website sharing our photography about the various Islands of Japan, as well as a website sharing photos and tips on day trips from Tokyo.
Why did you come up with the idea to diversify?
It wasn't such a concrete plan actually, but we took some opportunities along the way.
Our commercial photography work and design work trickled in, and we didn't really have to put a lot of effort into promoting ourselves. When a friend decided to move to Tokyo we wanted to help him to achieve his dreams of becoming a professional photographer, so we decided to promote ourselves collectively. Things really took off after that!
How do you structure your days with so much on your plate?
Usually I use our Ginza shop as my work base and prioritise what needs to be done. We usually try not to take on more than one shoot a day, and as there are three of us (myself, my husband and our very talented friend Sam Spicer), doing this it's not so impossible. Things often run into the evening after our daughter goes to bed.
I bet you have some great travel stories (I seem to remember reading one about leeches) from your off-the-beaten-path business. Care to share?
Haha, this story involves leeches too! We always tend to get ourselves into an off-road driving situation, even though our car is tiny and not at all suitable for off-road driving.
We went camping a few weeks ago and innocently went down an unmarked road beside a cliff face just to see what was there. It was quite a steep road, and our tiny car just couldn't make it back up. Queue panicking 4 year old in the back seat and driver me being ever-so-zen-calm about this silly situation. We tried tree bark under the tires, and with multiple attempts we were finally able to get the car out, only to realise that we had picked up many leeches on our feet and legs in our struggle. The car has a strange rattle now (most likely not leech related).
You obviously have a passion for Japan (leeches excluded) from the locations you choose for the photo shoots, to the jewellery collections to the travel business. If you ever left Japan, what things couldn’t you live without?
The convenience of Tokyo life!
I couldn't live without the healthy diet and tasty seasonal produce, I couldn't live without the convenience of the combinis (convenience stores), I couldn't live without this profound culture that envelopes literally everything, I couldn't live without such diverse nature which is within fairly easy distance from such a major metropolis, I couldn't live without such a wide variety of climates in a single country.
What’s your life philosophy? Does it have anything to do with slow-living?
I try to do things that I love spending time on into the way I can support myself and help others. I try to blur the boundary of work and play, and aim for work that feels like play. I try to find beauty in the everyday, as I feel that this keeps my heart light. I always try to surround myself with positive, optimistic people, and consciously avoid people who drag me down. I strongly believe that good coffee is an essential way to start the day, and a nice glass of wine is an essential way to end the day.
Connect with Janine here:
Photography: www.ippei-janine.com and www.spicer-naoi.com
Jewelry work: www.ateliershinji.com
Islands of Japan website: www.ippei-janine.com/travel-japan-islands
Tokyo day trips website: www.ippei-janine.com/tokyo-day-trips
Victoria Close from Bikudesigns talks kimono, business, Japanese design, life in Tokyo and all the things she loves.