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Furoshiki – cloth for wrapping gifts

Furoshiki - cloth for wrapping gifts

ma space design 

ma space design

Tomoko Kakita

Founder’s/Owner’s story and what motivated them to start the business

ma space design was established in 2020 with a vision to reduce the single-use wrapping packages, completely change the art of gift giving and revitalise ancient Japanese tradition by introducing the Japanese Furoshiki culture for wrapping gifts.

Furoshiki is a wrapping cloth. In Japan, there exists a beautiful culture of wrapping treasured items, gifts, and belongings in Furoshiki. In the past, people used Furoshiki to carry gifts and trade products for transportation, with the concept that you can use it again and again. The use of Furoshiki has, however, faded since the 1970s due to the introduction of plastic and paper bags, wrapping paper and luggage.

I design and sell Furoshiki through my website ma space design, and organise workshops in the UK London where I am based, and online.

間 “ma” means “the space between things”. As a spatial designer, my job is to help people fill their ‘ma’ with the beauty that improves their environment and their life. With Furoshiki, we create ‘ma’ in a piece of cloth. We cocoon appreciation, care and compassion as a gift to someone we care about. I want to spread this beautiful Japanese culture to the world.

My ambition is to encourage those who own my Furoshiki to use it with care so that it lasts for a long time. Remember the message of this product: that is to be used to inspire people to act responsibly towards the environment, to help them to reduce the waste of single-use wrapping packages, and to encourage them to reconnect not only with nature but also with people and create a little network of appreciation. A message of goodness that you pass on with Furoshiki.

I lost one of my sisters in 2006.

My sister Naoko was a joyful, energetic, and beautiful Japanese landscape designer who loved nature and wanted to plant as many trees as possible in her lifetime. It was my sister’s dream, and nature inspired me to create my brand. I wanted to design a product that would inspire people. And this is my way of continuing my sister’s passion.

One sunny day in the heath near where I live, I was lying on the grass, feeling grounded and full of appreciation for the abundance of planet Earth. Mother Earth gives us so much even though we keep taking. I was thinking about my sister who sadly passed away. I decided to do something in her honour to give back. That was the moment when my first Furoshiki designs and ma space design were born.

The challenges the business/market is facing

As a small business, it is difficult to achieve a sustainable production process in every step from sourcing the materials to the production stage and the delivery to the customers. Finding the right mindset manufacturers, making changes and refining the process takes time. For manufacturers, it might mean extra costs to become sustainable. A complete sustainable process could become possible when the brand develops good relationships with collaborators and work toward the same goals, including being truly sustainable creators, creating high-quality products that will last for a long time to inspire people, and being financially successful.

The global recession has been on the news for a while. Any type of business will experience a challenging time, especially in the retail market. People may start reassessing how they spend their money. Changes may result to lead consumers to purchase any products more sustainable way. To choose things which will last longer and to buy only when necessary. Diminishing the disposable consumption culture is a positive move even though we may suffer as a retailer. This is our opportunity to reinvent the retail industry to thrive with sustainability.

The opportunities the business/market is facing

More and more people are becoming aware of sustainability. How can we live with the planet earth in harmony without destroying its health? We take resources from our planet to support our life. We should help repair, regenerate and heal it too. Instead, we are polluting our planet by dumping waste into landfills and pouring waste into the ocean. As we can read in many news and articles about microplastic and many other pollutions caused by humans, we need to take action to stop damaging our planet. We can’t thrive if our planet is not thriving.

With my brand, I am focusing on proposing a creative, fun and beautiful alternative gift wrapping method instead of using single-use wrapping packages. With a hope to help to reduce waste when we are giving gifts.

People think wrapping gifts with Furoshiki must be difficult, but it’s a lot of fun and easier than you think. I would encourage people to just try it to play and see what happens. My book Furoshiki: and the Japanese Art of Gift Wrapping published by Laurence King Publishing guides the reader through 30 exquisite yet easy styles from basic wrapping to the most elegant techniques and offers access to video content where I demonstrate each wrap. As well as wrapping gifts, you can also use Furoshiki to carry all sorts of items.

If we as creators collaborate and set a standard for a sustainable production journey through supply chains, we have opportunities to help consumers make better choices easily. In addition, we have opportunities to influence people by creating high-quality, well-made products which will last longer, with beautiful designs and stories to inspire and educate the consumers.

Advice to others about business

I want to share my favourite African proverb. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Collaboration and working together can often create greater results. It is important to have our own time and space when we give birth to unique ideas. Our products and business ideas can grow into many potentials. For me, the first step was to create a brand to design and sell Furoshiki and spread Furoshiki culture to the world to help to reduce the single-use gift packaging. When I started taking action, opportunities and the right support came to me. I also constantly seek out and connect with inspiring creators and people who are already one or two steps ahead of me in their business and life stages. Reflecting and discussing ideas with fellow creators and learning from wise men and women from their experiences contributed to helping me to develop and grow not only my brand but also my mental wellness. One of the wise men I had the privilege to work with told me “where you put your energy will grow”. I have a full-time job as an interior designer I enjoy, and running my brand business parallel to it. I believe in the balance of life. Our energy doesn’t need to go into our business all the time. In the end, when we have a grounded and joyous life outside our business and work, our performance and productivity increase, and we can come up with better ideas and solutions.

Collaboration and the work/life balance are the lessons I’ve learnt from my experience building my brand so far. I am curious about what is coming next.

Dietician MS, Lund University, Sweden Nutrition plays an important role in human life. Eating habits are one of the factors that affect our health. There is often a misconception among people that nutritionists force a very restrictive diet, but that is not true. In fact, I don't ban any products, but I point out dietary mistakes and help change them by giving tips and new recipes that I've tried myself. I advise my patients not to resist change and to be purposeful. Only with willpower and determination can a good result be achieved in any area of life, including changing eating habits. When I don't work, I love to go climbing. On a Friday evening, you are most likely to find me on my couch, cuddling with my dog and watching some Netflix.

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