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