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January 2012
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March 2012

sneak peek

And I do mean "peek."  Given the aforementioned lack of picture-taking at the San Fran gift show, I don't have many pictures to share, but now that I've unpacked, I can at least share some images from catalogs so you get a little hint of what's coming.  The list of orders is lengthy, and I'm looking forward to all the new arrivals over the next couple months.

So, let's see, in no particular order....

Recycled/Repurposed items:

necklaces made with vintage costume jewelry, iPad cases made from men's flannel shirts

  Shop 098

 wallets made from maps

Shop 096

Artsy/Craftsy supplies:

washi tape, rubber stamps, patterned tape, crafty books, felt garland kits, origami paper, handmade paper, ribbon

Shop 103

 

Paper Products:

French notecards, Japanese journals, notepads, stationery sets

Shop 099

recipe cards, mini address books, journals (and some new dayplanner possibilities for 2013), post-it notes,

Shop 107

My old boss used to have a friend who would give her gifts of good taste, that my boss would end up liking so much that she'd order them for the shop.  I have a similar friend, and I was glad to find the covered journal she gave me at Christmas.

Shop 102

Artisan Creations (usually ordered from the person who made it, as opposed to mass-produced):

letterpress notecards, steampunk tarot cards, filigree silver necklaces, beaded/vintage remixed earrings,

Shop 101

bird and chicken dish towels

Shop 106

Fun things we couldn't resist:

felt crowns, insulated lunch totes, Hello Kitty phone charms, felt bird ornaments, feather ornaments, mini glass vases, mini bird nests and eggs

Shop 100Shop 105Shop 108


And I'm sure there's more but now it is reduced to scribbles and numbers on purchase orders...




home again, home again

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As I stepped off the plane after a grueling day of travel, a little part of me was thinking, WHY did I leave home in the first place?!  Waking up at 3 am, eating in the airport, catching the boogers of the sneezing child did not exactly add up to the best of days.  Now I'm wading through the laundry and the mail, the unpacking, the restless night and coughing (yes, I caught her cold).

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But the pictures are up/downloading as we speak, I already got a UPS shipment notification, and as I look out the window on this grey February day, I am reminded how nice it was to get away.  To see blue skies, go out without a jacket, see the trees in bloom.  How nice to come home, too, which is probably the best of both worlds. 

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I'm looking forward to coming back to the shop, to settling back in amongst the lovelies we've gathered, even as I enjoyed leaving town and winter, checking out the San Francisco sights and shops.

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This was our first time attending the San Francisco Gift Show.  It is smaller than the New York Gift Show and we weren't really sure what to expect.  I was a little apprehensive, but it seems like everyone goes to the New York Gift Show so we thought it would be good for variety.  I think the proportion of good to crap was probably about the same as any other show, which meant less crap to wade through, pardon my French.  Seriously?  When I go to these gift shows, I am always blown away by how much STUFF there is in the world.  If you can imagine, all the notecards, windchimes, fountains, journals, baskets and whatever else, all the products that you've ever seen - from cute little gift shops to JoAnn's or Walgreen's, that is what we walk down aisles and aisles of.  I was terribly remiss in taking pictures while at the show, though Sachi and I both agreed that the CHA show (Craft & Hobby Association) that we attend in Los Angeles/Anaheim is more inspiring in terms of merchandising and crafty inspiration. 

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Nonetheless, we had a good and inspiring show.  We wrote lots of orders, found new vendors, reconnected with existing artists.  It is always a pleasure to find the small artisans amongst the mass producers and importers.  I know, you might be wondering why we even look for small artisans in such a setting - why not go to art/craft fairs or etsy?  well, that approach has its limits too, as many small artisans in that setting are not prepared for wholesaling. 

In the next couple months, product will be arriving: plenty of paper products including journals and notecards, stationery sets, necklaces and earrings, Hello Kitty charms and other Japanese cuteness, rubber stamps, ornaments, washi tape, and more.  I particularly enjoyed a lovely booth - I guess there's no other way to describe it except that it had a terrarium feel: a combination of glass and rock and greens.  We also found several new jewelry artists, which will diversify our collection.

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Sachi did a great job finding us a place to stay.  We grew up sleeping in tents and on couches/floors when traveling so I don't expect luxury, but it was nice to have a lovely spot to retreat to after a day of working and touring the city.  I was quite jealous of the kitchen floor.

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Of course, the other big component of the trip is just being in a new environment, checking out what West Coast retailers are up to, getting the inspiration of a new setting.  We enjoyed visits to indie shops like Lavish and Urban Bazaar and Needles and Pens.  It's always fun to see products we've ordered in big city shops.  And, I must admit that I'm pleased with the shop that we've created - I think we hold our own.  The modern aesthetic seems rather minimalist to me, and I don't fully understand how some of these shops even have enough inventory on hand to cover their costs.  But we all know that I prefer a fuller store.  That said, if anyone ever complains about how full our store is, I now have something to compare it to - a store that probably had twice as much inventory literally heaped in about the same square footage.  I know people who get overwhelmed when they come in our shop, but that's nothing compared to that one.

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I'm still kind of obsessed with succulents, and the terrarium bar at Ubran Bazaar was enviable, not to mention the many succulents planted in yards wherever we went.  It was interesting to me on this trip to see how some of the elements that have come up for me in Pinterest repeated themselves in terms of products and inspirations.  A person would like to think they are being original and innovative, but am I just following the trends that everyone else is, which were set by Pantone or someone like that?  Or do we just choose what we want to see, or interpret, as a "trend" ?  I mean, I'm looking at succulents and rocks on Pinterest, but not everyone is.

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It was definitely nice to get away and the weather cooperated beautifully.  In fact, I think some of our days were warmer than some of our L.A. days last year.  The flowers were in bloom, we even grabbed a few hours at the beach.  For the "rainy season," the weather was remarkably nice.  My memory of our first trip to San Francisco was nothing but gray skies and just a peek of the bridge through the fog but our days were much clearer this time around.

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In all, now that the exhaustion of the return trip is fading, a lovely time was had by all!  Now we just have to wait for the new arrivals.


leaving for Cali

Just a few more days and we will be heading out to San Francisco.  I think the last time I was gone from the shop for more than four days was....  oh, right October.  To be fair, I was in Italy on that trip so a person could claim that I got more than my share of vacation and getting away.  Still, after a busy holiday season, and in the midst of a dreary midwinter, it will be nice to get away.  One of the advantages of travel is those unplanned and unexpected moments - of inspiration, of merchandising or product ideas, of whatever that happens when you are out of your usual routine.  Who knows what it will be this time, but we look back on past trips and count the delicious meals (we're Komais after all) and the new products we brought home, not just from the wholesale show, but also from the "busman's holiday" that a trip ends up being (shopping and seeing what other stores have created).

The last time I was in San Francisco was the year before we opened the store and at least a few months before I hit the low point of my old job (a moment in time I consider my mid-life crisis, if somewhat early).  It's so strange to think about all that has changed since that moment - to think about the person I was then, looking at San Francisco shops and thinking, "when I have a store of my own....."  We are looking forward to visiting with our Uncle and other friends who live in the area, as well as a little shopping and sightseeing in the off hours.

We have never been to this particular show either so we are eager to see what we find.  Since we've been open, we mostly go the Stationery show and Craft & Hobby show; I haven't been to a gift show since my old job and it will be interesting to see if there is any regional difference.  We'll be visiting some of our current vendors as well, but it's mostly just fun to wonder what will be new and different for the shop upon our return (or, more precisely, upon delivery of whatever we order).  And of course, we are looking forward to doing some shopping: Flax, Miette, Needle & Pen, Urban Bazaar and Nest are just a few on the list.

My computer access while we are away will be limited so you might just have to wait until I get back for the pictures and the travelogue. 

Meanwhile, in Madison, Pamela and Mom will be tending the shop.  There are limited hours and services (no craft parties/commission work) while we are away.  Weekend hours are regular winter hours: Saturdays 10 am - 6 pm and Sundays noon - 4 pm; we'll be open Monday, February 20th through Friday, February 24th from noon to 5 pm.


arrived

Ice 006Wow.  I can't believe it is already time for Valentine's day.  I totally missed planning a photo shoot for the Isthmus Book of Love - last year I got a good picture of the girl with a heart-shaped cookie.  This year, spur of the moment, best I could get was hands in a heart (apparently not cute enough for them to print.  Ah well, our ad turned out nicely).

Post-Christmas winter is a relatively slow time of year at the shop, though we are still busy with year-end wrap up.  And I realize that I was letting the idea of a slow time of year interfere with actually writing a blog post - there are some new things around the shop to share.  In general, I tend to think it is going to be slower than it actually is - a mistake I repeat year after year.  Perhaps someday I will learn.

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I know I wrote about this already, but how much do you love our new card catalog?  It has freed up a lot of space and I had so much fun making labels for all the drawers.  There's still some empty space, so I'll have to see what I can do about filling those when we go on our San Francisco buying trip in a few weeks.

Some of our artists have been better than I have been about restocking the store.  We received more prints, repurposed playing card notepads, repurposed sweater scarves and armwarmers, Madison lakes papercuts.

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We also received our reorder of notecards and paper from Chicago.  I love that they arrive with the Paper Source label on them - there's something exciting to me about having items in my store that come from the store that we loved so much and that inspired us in our own retail adventures.

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My biggest preoccuation in the new year has been Blurb.  I finished up a couple new notebooks for the store.  I'm really happy with their new notebook format and am quite enjoying my new calendar that I made (looking forward to making one for the shop for 2013):

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I've been rather lazy about restocking after Christmas but Sachi returned from a weekend away and has been busy making her sweet nest and floral charm necklaces. 

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You'd think I could come up with my own projects to work on, but I immediately had to start in on the same task.  That is one thing I love so much about being in business with my sister - the industriousness of one can help motivate the other.  Sachi is way ahead of me on necklaces but I managed to finish up a few nest/enamel combos.

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Meanwhile, in Valentine news, we have a great assortment of notecards available.  We had just a few stray backorders arrive a little late but now we have the full assortment, including the Valentine protest that Sachi was particularly looking forward to.  And, of course, there are Banksy cards, which ended up being suitable for Valentine's day as well.

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We have plenty of jewelry and sweet gifts to choose from - including the anatomical heart lockets and rubber stamps.

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Our craft table has been getting quite a workout.  Yesterday we hosted a group of 7 people making Valentines; as I type, there are four people working on Valentines.  I do so love the idea of a notecard made/bought from Anthology making its way through the USPS.

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In other news, we are looking ahead to our buying trip to San Francisco.  The store will be open reduced hours (and services) while we are gone:

Saturday, Feb 18 and 25: 10-6, Sunday, Feb 19 & 26: 12-4

Monday, Feb 20th - Friday, Feb 24th: 12 - 5

We have not been to this particular show so we are excited to see what we bring back for the store, as well as looking forward to the inspiration of traveling.  The last time I was in San Francisco was before we opened the store - several stores were of great inspiration in those early formative moments.  I'm looking forward to seeing what this trip brings.

 


card catalog (!)

Catalog

Whew!  What a week it has been!  Very intense and somewhat stressful, but in the end, wonderfully giddily great.

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I've been dealing with end of year paperwork (ugh) and technical computer issues (ugh) but over all of that was the knowledge that Memorial Library was cleaning out its card catalog room.  I spent a lot of time hounding people at the library - I'm sure they were happy to see the last of me.  I had this anxious feeling that might be natural considering that I am a child of librarian AND a WWII Japan survivor who is incapable of throwing anything away in case it might be useful as something might be in times of post-war scarcity.  The thought that all those years of typewritten cards would just be tossed in the recycle bin created a high level of anxiety that did not mix well with a malfunctioning credit card system.  In the end, several boxes of library catalog cards have made their way to the shop.  We will have them available during our studio garage sale, and I have plans for an assortment of artsy projects, as well as book-related scrap paper packs.  I think they will be great collage elements.

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Most of all, as someone who has always wanted a library card catalog, walking into Memorial Library and seeing a room full of my version of the holy grail, all marked "SWAP" added a tantilizing component to the week.  Various people agreed with me about the necessity of such a piece of furniture in my life; others shared their own wishes and rumors about long lines and widespread advertising.

Catalog 002

For those of you who are not familiar with SWAP, it is the place where all the university surplus goes to die.. and then be reborn.  They are open to the public only on Fridays and one Saturday a month.  And despite the fact that my sister was due to leave on her weekend vacation, I made her wake up early to accompany me to the outskirts of Verona.  I didn't even know if there would be card catalogs there, since I had seen many at Memorial Library just a few days before and had been informed that they were only going to SWAP as room was available.  (I had visions of going to SWAP every Friday for a month, which I might do anyway since there were many other cool things, and potential for some pieces for my studio at home - I passed up a great bank of lockers which Sachi persuaded me would not work in the store... but when I got home I regretted that I hadn't thought of them for my house - unfortunately someone was loading them into their van as we were loading the card catalogs).  There was, indeed, a line of people waiting for the 8 am opening and I imagined some running and shoving would be involved.  Thankfully, as soon as the doors opened, the bulk of the rush was for computer parts, and I spotted the card catalog files two aisles over - four down on the floor.  I stood by one while Sachi went and got someone to help us; while standing there, someone else put a claim on another, but my vision of an all-out retail brawl never came to fruition.  As I stood there, the more that I thought, the more that I decided this was also probably my one chance to get such a thing... and maybe I needed one for myself as well as one for the shop. 

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Long ago, I visited a friend in Minnesota and confessed my wish for a library card catalog file and her schoolteacher husband expressed regret that two weeks prior they had redone the school library and put the files in the dumpster.  So close!  Not that I would have had anywhere to store it, and moving it would have been quite a complication (those things are HEAVY!).  AND now I don't even have to regret missing that opportunity.

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So, yes, I bought two.  In addition to the four on the floor, I saw more up high on a shelf, and knew there were still some to come over from the library.  So I didn't feel too piggy.

I managed to fit it in the shop pretty easily, and have been consumed with putting all the little things into the drawers.  I cannot believe how much it holds!  Yesterday I had time to make labels, another fun aspect of this project.  I could have spent triple the time trying to find labels that fit the contents, but in the end went mostly with patterened paper.  I printed out the labels on clear address mailing labels, so the pattern of the paper shows through.

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Meanwhile, at home... well, let's just say it is a good thing that I had already started my studio/living room rearranging and organizing.  It sure is a big piece of furniture.  I have very little "real" furniture so it is even more obtrusive.  But totally worth it considering how much stuff it fits.   I'm trying to practice what I preach in terms of studio organization and not get too carried away with distractions - just focus on the basic level sorting; the fine stuff and the tangential projects can be done later.  Right now, contents of old drawers are strewn on the floor awaiting placement in new drawers.  I think this is going to be a great addition to the studio space and will really help a lot with the organizing process.  Aside from the fact that I got what I always wanted, I'm giddy because it is actually working better than I even imagined it could.  Still, it will be a while before the dinner party invitations go out. 

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oh, p.s. $120 each.