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Hi, I’m Himi, and like the title says, I’m the hands behind the clutch (and the sewing machine). These things don’t sew themselves, so as the Head Seamstress at Davie & Chiyo, you can rest assured that every clutch is the result of my blood, sweat and tears.
As you previously read, I originally had the idea of sewing clutches but it was Fumi that had approached me with the business idea (more like bugged me until I screamed ‘uncle’). I’ve always been good with my hands, whether it was crocheting, sewing or handcrafting jewelery but this wasn’t my first foray into the world of Etsy. Rewind to three years ago, I had just given birth to the second of my two boys and with my hands full with a newborn and a toddler, there was no way I would be entering the workforce anytime soon. While my husband was at work and the kids were napping, I needed something to do. I like to keep busy, whether it’s with housework or errands but I needed something more… At that age, naps are long and sitters don’t come cheap, so I had to be at home, and Etsy just seemed to make sense – minimal start up costs, I could work with my existing skills and I could work from home on my own schedule (late at night and during nap time). I started off slow, crocheting baby hats and sewing granny bags but it wasn’t until that fateful day when I posted that purple brocade clutch that things began to change. Two years later, we’re so busy that I’m asking my mom to take care of the kids (we call it ‘Grandma’s Preschool’) just so I can sew full-time!
Aside from my Davie & Chiyo life, my life is like any other… Mom’s, that is. I’m cooking, doing laundry, vacuuming, taking the kids to preschool and back, grocery shopping, going to swimming lessons and soccer, attending kiddie birthdays (what feels like every weekend), banking, ironing, jewelery-making, Lego building, running to the post office, filling out form after form (of I don’t know what??), and just generally being a mommy… Enough of a list for you?
Now that I’ve scared all of you into NEVER having kids, I guess I can talk about something else. I recently started my own jewelery shop on Etsy. You’re probably thinking – does she really need MORE to do?!? Well, yes. Between bridal seasons, I do have a very little bit of downtime when I’m not sewing and not running around after screaming kids, and like I said before, I need to keep busy. So I started buying materials online and making jewelery once everyone was in bed. Although I’m not so fashionably inclined (I would call myself a ‘practical’ dresser), I feel like I do have an eye for very classic jewelery. I love working with pearls and gems, and little by little my shop is growing.
It is waaaaay past my bedtime and I have to be up bright and early to start all of those mommy duties again! So you better get to bed soon or the Boogie Man will come and get you!
(Sorry, it’s the mom in me…)PS. Stop by my Etsy shop – For Me by AnnA
My name is Fumi and I am the owner, director, manager and designer for Davie & Chiyo. Yes, it does seem like I carry a heavy load my shoulders but it’s really not as crazy as it sounds (most of the time). With all that I take on in a single day, I think I can officially add “superhero multitasker” to my job description as well! Depending on where we are in the wedding season, I could be running around like a chicken with my head chopped off, answering emails, buying fabric, arranging orders, dropping off packages, (I could go on…) or I could be trying to keep busy while impatiently waiting for my first sale of the week. This business definitely has its ups and downs.
Now for how it all began. You may have read some bits and pieces on the blog and in interviews but this is the tale in its entirety, straight from the horse’s mouth.
It was the summer of 2008. Fresh from business school, I was edgy and restless. I was working as a waitress at a Japanese bistro to pass the time and pay the bills but was constantly scouring the net for something I could call my career. Despite my efforts, nothing was working. Maybe my resume was not convincing, I wasn’t looking for the right jobs, or maybe my heart just wasn’t quite in it… but whatever the reason, nothing was happening.
One day late in the summer fate knocked on my door – something caught my eye. (To set the scene, a brief intro to my sister, Himi, who you’ll meet in the coming weeks) Himi was a stay at home mom with an infant and a one year old. To help pass the time, she started a shop on Etsy, selling a variety of knitted hats and fabric granny bags. Sales were nothing spectacular (a few a week) but it kept her interested. Honestly, I was never very involved or interested in what she was doing with her shop but when she listed that purple brocade clutch, my interest was piqued. It was something I actually wanted and made me think, “If I want it, so will a million of other people.”
The next day, I went to see my sister about a clutch. I started talking and talking… and talking about the clutch for the next month. My mind was racing, rolling and tumbling all at once! First I couldn’t stop talking about how amazing this little clutch was, then about its selling potential, then about a shop that could sell so many different kinds of these clutches. I’m not sure if it was my amazingly convincing argument or that my sister just wanted to shut me up but my sister finally agreed to start a business with me.
Three months later in November 2008, the Davie & Chiyo brand was created. The company was incorporated, the webshop was launched and our Etsy shop was up and running. The thing about me is that when I get excited, I lose all patience and cannot wait. I want to make things happen in an instant and won’t wait a second more. It definitely gets things rolling but it also makes me jump into many, many, MANY things head first. I may have incorporated without consulting a lawyer, bought a domain for a name that was not finalized (which led to me re-purchasing another domain), and ordered a thousand labels, only to change the design and re-order a 1000 more, however, with one right move for every ten mistakes, things managed to move forward.
The first year was a struggle, and truly nothing can prepare you for the entrepreneurial roller-coaster. I have to say that that first year brought out the worst in me and 2009 was definitely not the proudest of my 25 years of existence. With a business of only two, my sister and I definitely took out our stresses on each other. Although we had outgrown our hair-pulling days, we weren’t afraid to scream and yell until we completely disowned each other on a number of occasions. As cheesy as it sounds, sisterly love prevailed but something still had to be done about the situation. I am a risk-taker and she is risk averse, so you can see how things would often unfold. I would keep coming up with crazy ways to spend money in hopes of a bigger payout, and she wanted to take baby steps.
To save our friendship (and ourselves from a few heart attacks) we began to restructure the company. I became the sole owner of Davie & Chiyo, while Himi would become my employee. I had a hard time accepting this in the beginning, thinking that I was taking everything when Himi was the one who first produced that purple clutch that started it all. However, it just made sense for the both of us; she didn’t want the stress and burden of a business, and really just wanted a part-time job with a steady income so she could concentrate on being a mom. As I began to accept her decision, I realized that maybe this was the only thing that was going to keep this business on its feet.
In came 2010 and it was busy! Slowly but surely our designs evolved to fit the bridal market and we were getting noticed. Although our clutches could be customized for every occasion, the bridal market was our biggest customer. Our big moment came in late June when our Bow Clutch was featured on the website and in the pages of Martha Stewart Weddings magazine, and our sales skyrocketed.
I could go on and on about our successes in 2010 and our plans for 2011 but why ruin the surprise?
So now that you know every detail of the past two years of my life, you’re probably wondering “Who’s the woman behind the business?” Well, I’m not all business, believe it or not. I don’t spend all 24 hours of my day slaving away in the Davie & Chiyo workshop; I sleep for a few hours here and there, and lead what some may call an actual life. *gasp*
A little bit about me: I am half Japanese and half English. Although my childhood was spent in Japan, being as Japanese as the next kid, I do consider myself pretty much Canadian now. I guess you could say that I did all of my “growing up” and “self discovery” here… Eh! (Kidding, we don’t punctuate ALL of our sentences like that, okay!) When I’m not being the D&C superhero multitasker and can step away from my Blackberry for a few moments, you’ll find me taking full advantage of the amazing Vancouver outdoors – running, rollerblading and snowboarding – and when the rain becomes too unbearable I’ll hit the yoga studio or skating rink.
Aside from my active lifestyle, my two favourite things: My cats and anything home and garden. You’ve probably already mumbled ‘crazy cat lady’ to yourself but who could resist kittens! I have two cats (Tequila and Pepper) in my studio/mom’s kitchen that I love as if they were my babies. They couldn’t be happier in the studio with a constant supply of string, fabric and scraps. I’ve learned to really hold on to my fabric, as anything dropped on the floor is instantly transformed into a mischievous mouse that is prime for catching and chasing. When I’m not being entertained by two felines, I’m glued to ANYTHING home and garden. So all of those magazines and TV shows with kitchens, home makeovers, cooking, baking and crafting, I’m all over it! You name it, I love it. My all time favourite design show: Divine Design by Candice Olsen. Utterly amazing!
And how does a superhero multitasker/entrepreneur/cat wrangler dress? Well, I don’t know if what I end up wearing actually translates to this but I would say that I’m classic and casual chic. Realistically though, the ‘casual’ tends to take over the others (can you blame me?) but whenever there is a time and a place for it, I love to dress up. My style icon is definitely Audrey Hepburn (I know, get in line) but she is the epitome of classic elegance, and who wouldn’t want that?!?
Well I think this bed time story is getting a little long, so sleep tight and don’t let the bedbugs bite!
Okay, so let’s get the formalities out of the way.
Merry belated Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Festivus and whatever else you’ve celebrated over the past few weeks! It’s been an amazing year for us over here at Davie & Chiyo but we’re more than ready to ring in the New Year and take 2011 by storm!
First things first: Introductions
I realize that I’ve been writing this blog for almost 6 months now as a complete ghost writer. You’re probably wondering if I’m Davie or Chiyo or a clutch-making elf in a dark corner of the workshop… All good guesses but not quite.
Hi I’m Lauren and it’s very nice to meet you. *handshake*
Now that we’re on a first name basis, you’re probably curious as to how I became the mysterious commentator for Davie & Chiyo. Well it wasn’t exactly an accident – I didn’t respond to an anonymous Craigslist ad or flyer tacked up in the Starbucks – the stars aligned and it found me. Davie & Chiyo just happened to be the fledgling business of one of my best friends, Fumi (you’ll learn more about her next week). I was there since the beginning, when we were fresh out of business school and had no plan in sight, and am still here now. In my free time (when I wasn’t working my own 9-to-5) I started helping out with small craft shows, odd jobs in the studio and editing the odd flyer here and there. Eventually, I began to take on more of the marketing for Davie & Chiyo, and officially took over the blog almost 6 months ago. Fast-forward through 6 months of blogging and here I am.
A few more things about me, I’m a celebrity gossip blog, shopping, boot, food and yoga addict. When I’m not working I live and breathe all of the above. It’s tough keeping up with the number of trips Lindsay Lohan has taken to rehab but someone’s gotta do it!
And since this is a blog about hand bags, it’s a given that I should cover my own personal style. As cliché as it is to say, I’m eclectic. I’ll pretty much wear anything, whether it’s chunky glitzy jewellery, military boots, boyfriend jeans or a preppy cashmere cardigan. I love nautical, equestrian, dancer and military, and if I like how it looks, I’ll wear it. My taste in handbags is just as…variable. I love over-sized bags that fit anything and everything, chic cross-body carry-alls, vintage classics and statement clutches. Naturally, my favourite clutch is the All About a Bow Clutch with a chunky cross-body chain!
On that note, I’ll bid you adieu and will let you make your way to the Bow Clutch section of our shop.
Until next time clutch lovers!
Officially, “unofficial etsy featured seller #175”.
Blogger and fellow Etsy-er, Lauren Lowe, posted a wonderful little interview that she did with us on her blog, alliteration. Everyday she features a successful Etsy-er with over 300 sales, asking about inspirations, favourite things and what a day in the life of an Etsy-er is like.
Click here to read the post and learn a little more about us.
“Davie & Chiyo”, what do you think it means? Where do you think it came from?
I don’t think you will have the slightest clue unless, well, if you are a part of my family, then it should pretty much be self explanatory!
It comes from my father, David, and my mother, Michiyo.
Awwwwww. Isn’t that so cute???
Ok, but there is more logical meaning to the name than it just being cute. My sister and I thought about it for a long time. Because it is a ‘sisters’ project, we felt that we wanted to associate the name to something that connected both of us. Straight away, we thought of our parents, but in more way than them being our parents; we though about their nationality as well. David is a western name, and Michiyo is a Japanese name. This project is two half girls, making products influenced by the two cultures (the basic shape and the clasp is a traditional Japanese style, while the fabrics used has western influences). So then how perfect is it to use an English name and a Japanese name as the brand name for the purses?
We really didn’t want to call it “David & Michiyo” since it was _too_ obvious and too much of a bold statement, so we just made it shorter and sweeter!
I think it’s time I explained myself a little bit, about what ‘Davie & Chiyo’ is, and how I got involved in it.
Making purses was honestly not my long time childhood dream, in fact if someone were to tell me that this is what I’ll be involved in, I would’ve just rolled my eyes. it was something that I kind of fell into it out of no where, yet now, just about three months later, it has completely taken over my life…
This is how it all started. It was back in July when I was just fooling around on the computer as usual, trying to look for jobs while window shopping at online stores… when something caught my eye. I was browsing through my sister Himi’s Etsy shop (a place to sell and buy everything handmade), when a recent item that she had put up caught my attention. It was a little clutch bag with a traditional clasp opening. Something about it struck my interest and I knew there was a business opportunity staring right at my face.
Now sample testing was a very long process. Himi and I played with the shapes and fabrics for the clutches forever, until we produced something that we felt was up to our standards. But weird thing about making your own products is that you are never 100% satisfied. Even if it looks perfect from the eyes of others, you always look at it and see how much more it could still be improved. That’s the most frustrating thing of it all, but at some point, you have to say ‘it is good enough’, otherwise, you will be sample testing forever and will never get to a finished product. Another frustrating thing is that because my mind never stops coming up with new ideas and finding new things, I always keep wanting to add new lines and styles, meanwhile, the first batch of styles haven’t even hit production! I am _way_ ahead of myself everyday, that I find myself constantly having to pull myself back to reality.