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Interview with: folk made {Japan}

folk made
Greetings from Japan!
For this month’s blogpost I have interviewed Harumi Watanabe, founder and designer of Japanese label folk made. She’s sharing a bit of her inspiration, struggles and dreams in this post. I first met her at the Tokyo edition of Playtime last February and I was immediately drawn to her booth and especially to the big knitted stools that you will see below. Happy reading!

1. Please tell us a bit about your background, and how/ when did you start your label. What is your role at folk made?

After working for a Japanese label specializing in knitwear, I lived in France for three years, where I could do a lot of different things such as visiting museums, traveling, going to flea markets, learn about French language and culture… I was also the assistant designer for a French accessory label.
I started making children’s clothes little by little after my first baby was born. Then slowly I placed my creations in consignment in shops such as HP and it started to sell.
Nowadays I am doing everything on my own, from the design to the pattern making, realizing the sample collection as well as all the administration tasks. Folk made was founded in 2012.
folk made

2. How did you come up with the name ‘folk made’? Please give us 3 keywords that best describe your label.

folk made is about:
folklore: I am inspired by ethnic costumes and local handicrafts from the old days
natural product but with taste and texture
handmade: the love for handmade and pieces that will last for many years and bring a smile to your face
folk made

3. What inspires you when you create a collection? Your pieces have so many cute details , what is usually initiating the process?

The process starts with a collection of keywords that are inspiring me, then moves to the coordination of color combinations that have caught my eyes in the everyday life – for example in children’s painting… Once I have collected bits of inspiration I start looking for fabric swatches that are similar to the color combination I have in mind. Lastly I work on the samples.
folk made
folk made

4. Do you make the clothes yourself or do you have a factory producing the pieces?

I am in charge of the design as well as pattern making and sewing the sample pieces.
Starting from the Fall / Winter 2016 collection, I will work with a factory in Japan to produce the pieces.
folk made

5. Do you involve your daughter at some point in the creative process?

Of course! I might not have started a children’s label if I didn’t have a daughter. Since I want her to wear the clothes I am creating, she gets involved in the process of each collection, from trying on the sample to modelling for the catalogue. I could also get inspired by something she draws and make a pattern from it.
She also hand wrote the brand logo.
folk made

6. Where can we buy folk made?

From Fall/ Winter 2016 folk made will be sold in 11 stores in Japan as well as one store abroad.
Local stores in Japan are for example: Elf Kids market (in Tokyo) or une plume (in Kobe)
folk made

7. What are you struggling most with?

Pattern-making can be challenging at times!
folk made

8. Do you attend any trade fairs other than Playtime Tokyo?

Not yet.

folk made

9. What is your biggest dream for folk made?

It would be fantastic to have our children’s collection as well as our furniture design all showcased in one store to better translate what our brand is about.

Note from the editor: all the wooden furnitures you see on the pictures are handmade by Harumi’s husband himself!
folk made

10. What are you favorite Japanese brands for kids that the rest of the world should know about?

cokitica (コキチカ)

 

To discover more about the world of folk made, you can browse their website, and follow them on Facebook or Instagram!

folk made

Thank you so much Marie for this great interview!

 

 

 

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Interview with Julie from Famille Summerbelle

Hi Julie, please tell us a bit about you and your family!

Well, I am of French origin and my husband is English. We live just outside of Paris and spend most of our time working between Paris and London. I studied Fine Art in Paris, moving to the UK to study Theatre Set Design at St Martins. We started Famille Summerbelle three years ago following the arrival of our first child Ophelia. It is in every sense a family business.

How did you come up with the idea of Famille Summerbelle?

Famille Summerbelle was created by a combination of desire and need. While pregnant with Ophelia I decided that a career in Theatre Set Design might be problematic with a young family (long unsociable hours), so decided that I needed to do something where I could create from home – and in my own time! As I was spending an increasing amount of time at home, I felt more and more inspiration in designing for the space around me – in particular creating an interesting and stylish space for Ophelia. So it started there…

And how do you combine family life and running your own company? What is the biggest challenge?

It’s very difficult – particularly now that we have two. I have become very skilled at extracting the most out of snatched half hours! The greatest challenge is to find time for thinking, inspiration and creating. Most of my spare time over the last year has needed to be focussed on just running the business. Something we’re going to change this year.

What are the future plans for Famille Summerbelle?

More products! I want to spend more time designing, and we have a whole bunch of new products that we’ll be introducing throughout the year. We‘re also going to launch a French site this year.I saw some pictures of your home on your blog/ website? Do you like to decorate and what inspires you?

I’m obsessed with interior design! My mum – who has a fantastic sense of style – has been a huge inspiration, plus I get a lot from our travels, magazines and of course the blogging community. My big ambition is to build my own home – something we’d like to do sooner rather than later…

You write a blog as well, how does it support your business?

Our blog – being part of that community – is absolutely vital to our business. We spend almost nothing on advertising, preferring by far the honest, supportive, collaborative relationships we’ve built through the blog. It also encourages me to find new products, styles and designers, who we then feature.What is your favourite book?
I really don’t have one in particular. I read so many design books – my favourite right now are the Japanese design books published by Edition Paumes.

Thank you Julie!

{by the way… I would not mind a little house swap with the Summerbelle family…hihi}

http://www.pauletpaula.com/
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Interview with Mandy from Belle and Boo

Being a big fan of Belle and Boo, I am very happy to share an interview I had with Mandy.
Mandy set up Belle and Boo in June 2007 (same month my daughter was born) in a tiny one bedroom flat in London (same city – not place – my daughter was born). In 2008 her good friend Kate joined her to do the business part of the ever growing company.
In case you do not know Belle and Boo yet, see their website including shop and/or check their etsy shop as well.
Be careful… everything is so cute and charming you cannot resist… I bet!


A little intro please !
Hello my name is Mandy.I run a business called Belle and Boo with my friend Kate. I think the best way to describe it is a children’s lifestyle brand, we sell art prints, clothes, cushions, stationery etc featuring my illustrations of children.

Who inspired you to do what you do? Maybe somebody from your family?
Probably my dad. He is a brilliant technical drawer and always helped me with my art projects at school. Once he came in and helped my primary school class all make elephant masks, they were really amazing I remember feeling very proud.

What is the biggest challenge in your profession ?
Finding time to do new art work & art work that I want to do specifically, the busier and more successful the business becomes the more other non creative work is generated. I do have a team of people to help with this but your opinion, input is still needed, I find myself at a lot of meetings!

What influences your work?
Life, I see children doing sweet stuff all the time, from stories my friends tell me about their kids, from my favourite books, the internet and day dreaming.

And what are your current inspirations?
I love finding new illustrators, that are actually old illustrators if you know what I mean, vintage illustration is my biggest influence & I love discovering a new artist.

You write a blog as well, how does it support your business?
I think/hope it shows a little about my personality, I try to keep it very upbeat and positive, but I assure you I have bad, boring days like everyone else. It promotes new products and lets people know about events Belle & Boo will be attending. It also keeps me in touch with like minded people.


Where would you like to live?
Anywhere I am up for offers!

What are the future plans for Belle & Boo, I know you started with some cute dresses and there is more coming for this Autumn/ Winter season… what else would you like to realize?
Our next big project is a Belle & Boo story book, well actually a series of them and then if they are successful, Belle & Boo animations.

Do you remember your first sale? What was it and how was the feedback?
My first sale was about 10 mins after I uploaded my first picture onto Etsy, I thought I had done something wrong (computers not being my strong point at the time) and was so excited when I realised it had disappeared from the shop because it had been bought. The feedback was great and the customer still shops with Belle and Boo to this day 4 years on.

Which trend annoys you?
I am not a big fan of personalisation.

Thank you so much Mandy, a big honour to have you on my little blog and share your words with my readers!

http://www.pauletpaula.com/
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21jolly things for an awesome start into 2021!

paul paula blog 2021

Hi everyone. Now, I hope you are doing great. After the little bummer of being in lockdown over the holidays we just got the news that schools will not re-open next week either. It does not come as a huge surprise but resilience is written in B I G letters over my head now.

The days are short, cold and my motivation for another round of home schooling is more than low. I admit!

Still being positive and seeing the situation as a ‘it is what it is’ kind of thing I can feel my limits a bit more clear these days too.

So wherever you are, I really hope that you are ok and walking around with your chin up. I am sending you a virtual hug because we all need one.

Please enjoy some things, reads and finds to get into 2021 with a little skip… or tow:

wooden rainbow montessori
Great shop with wonderful Montessori toys that may make homeschooling a tiny bit easier!

10 Family-Friendly Things You Can Do at Home This Winter That Don’t Involve a Screen. Dwell.

 

fish stuffed animal handmade
Unique and very cute soft friends*!

The best things for ourselves and our families that made an unbelievably weird year just a little more manageable.

 

star moon coffee mug
Beautiful ceramics and I basically want them all. New year, new tea mug… :)

2020 celeb scandals.

 

oversize cashmere scarf
Spoil yourself ladies! With these luxury knitted items. Because home office means comfort and we want it chic.

I will join this ‘Ready to Crush’ 21 days challenge starting next Monday. You too?

 

linen tablecloth
I cannot even remember when I put a proper tablecloth on. But this year I bought one to make the holidays a tiny bit more festive. And I have to say – it is so lovely and make a great difference when it comes to atmosphere.
Meaning: I will get one for Spring too because the one I got fits more with the Christmas Mood.
My eyes are on those because nothing can beat linen*!

The simple knitted ensemble in subtle colours is T H E thing for adults right now. This is the perfect baby version*!

 

vegan aubergine cauliflower lentil harissa
I love herbs and spices and made this delicious vegan recipe recently. With lots of harissa!

How was 2020 for Chloe and Darshana? Read their interviews…

 

soor plom-velour-corduroy-overalls
New Soor Plom* collection available.

I am a huge fan of Ren Skincare and this is one of my favourite cleansers.

 

RAINBOW-VASE DIY
Great DIY. A paper mache rainbow vase.

It is cold outside baby. And this cream* will help to keep your skin in check.

 

ceramic palette and brush rest bunny
For the little artist: Bunny palette and brush rest* in ceramic!

OMG. This minty lip balm* is the best!

 

playroom mural sun
Very cool mural, all DIY and rather easy to copy!

2021 will definitely be the year of sneakers. (again)
What else would you wear with your comfort chic ensembles???
And these never go out of style…

 

lorna murray
These beautiful (sun) hats* are now available in Europe as well! Adult sizes are available as well.

 

Happy 2021 everyone!!! Lots of love, health, and resilience…

 

*affiliate links
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How I grew in 2020 with Darshana Salvisberg

Darshana Salvisberg
In the second part of this mew series I am talking to Darshana Salvisberg. Darshana is the founder of Atelier ParsMei. An eco-friendly, boutique feeling children’s brand that dresses mums as well.

A brand that offers convertible, classic contemporary design. The label is very conscious when it comes to their sustainable footprint and ensures that every aspect of production is transparent – respecting both the planet and its inhabitants.

I had the pleasure to meet Darshana in Florence during Pitti Bimbo twice and I am so happy to catch up with her here today. And hopefully in person very soon again too. She is a truly inspiring person that brings a lot of passion with her.

Let’s hear how she did over the last months:

Paul & Paula: How did 2020 start for you? And what were your original business plans for this year?
Darshana: The beginning of 2020 was already hectic for us as a family as we moved back to Switzerland from Dubai. The exciting part was the launch of Atelier Parsmei’s first ever Spring Summer 2020 collection online. The not so exciting part was the decision for my husband and I to separate. Followed by news of a pandemic taking over the world, and the ensuing lockdown as a shock for everybody.

And then it was March! How has your business been affected by the coronavirus?
We saw closure of small boutiques, cancellation of orders, cancellations of the 2 largest children’s wear trade expositions. Due to the lockdown and Covid-19 cases, we experienced huge delays with our factories. Both with respect to the development of our Spring Summer 2021 collection as well as the production of Autumn Winter 2020 collection and the delays continuing to date.

And is your business model resilient enough to recover from the impact of a crisis and manage potential crises in the future? Meaning, have you been able to lay the groundwork for recovery or are you still ‘just’ reacting?
The good thing about us being a sustainable brand is that we do not produce big quantities. We do not like to hold stock, which meant that with a small production, we were on the safe side as we did not take a big financial risk. We also had the flexibility to manage production volume which helped us deal with changes in wholesale orders.
As a new brand, we were, however, not able to attend the kids wear fairs Playtime Paris and Pitti Bimbo. And for us, they are great platforms to make our brand aware to the global buyers.
That said, we do not see the fairs happening anytime this Winter, therefore our challenge remains the ability for us to present our products to our buyers virtually.

I am sure the pandemic is a big learning curve for all of us. What was the biggest take away for you as a business owner so far?
I think that as a new start up, we have to adapt very fast to changes and also accept that things can happen in a different order than the one we have in our mind.

How do you do to stay optimistic?
Absolutely. Sometimes when we are in a dark phase, we think that we have been buried. But actually we have just been planted.

And what is the hardest part of this pandemic for you?
Restrictions with respect to how we live our lives. It has been hard to accept a reduced level of freedom in many aspects. And especially the inability to see people we love due to travel restrictions and quarantine requirements. Powerlessness vis a vis the viral ravage.

What kind of business opportunities happened over the last months?
We were so happy that Playtime offered their online showroom service. Despite the cancellation of the fairs, we had a number of buyers from around the world showing interest in Atelier Parsmei and contacting us. We have also started working with a sales agent in China and we are very optimistic about Atelier Parsmei’s future.

Has your relation with your local community changed since March?
Not really.

What is the feedback from your clients/ customers?
Our clients like our niche products, the quality we offer and the stories behind each of our collections. They are excited to see how we evolve as a brand.

Last question: What is the first thing that comes into your mind when I say ‘2021’?
New beginnings!

Thank you Darshana, wishing you all the best of luck in 2021.

 

Read the interview with Chloe Bowers

Photo: Darshana Salvisberg private
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