Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Most sincerely.

My close circle of friends knows that my family lost my younger brother when I was a child in a car accident. We were living in a suburb of Japan. My brother was five, my sister was nine, and I was twelve.

Now I look back... after becoming a parent, I know that losing a child was one of the most heartbreaking challenges that my parents endured and probably are still enduring. I felt this back then nearly 30 years ago, but I relate to their grief and pain they had to go through more now.

After my brother's accident and his passing, I think I did what any kids at the age of twelve would do. Just get through the day to day routine and hold onto any normalcy I could find. Consciously and subconsciously, I breathed the rest of my childhood witnessing and living through my parents' grief while feeling that I was not good enough to make them happy again. "If only I could do more of ..., they would be happier." was a subconscious motto I lived with. Today, I understand the logic makes no sense. But for a kid, the life equation was too complicated to figure out. It wasn't until my 30's that I tried to face the trauma of the grief. The grief of losing my parents to their grief. Some of my dearest friends and Frido know that the process wasn't necessarily pretty or celebratory. Processing past takes time and commitment. There is no going around it, and sometimes it's plain difficult. For many years, I moved through a spectrum of emotions - anger, denial, sadness, to name a few - about what happened and how it affected our family and my life long-term until earlier this year when I felt that I came out of the long tunnel literally what felt like as an overnight transition.

I am not a trauma specialist or psychologist so I can't share a prescribed process that works for everyone else, but I want to share what I think has helped me because I know how it feels to be in the long tunnel for many years.

Finding a reason to be a whole. 
When we are stuck in the past, it's hard to feel like we are a whole today. At least, it was for me. Before I was able to reconcile the past, there was always a part of me that was counteracting who I aspired to be. Like somehow I wasn't quite 100% myself. As I grew more as a mother, I felt the urgency of wanting to parent as a whole person. My kids and Frido deserved it, Baum-kuchen we pour so much love to deserved it, and most importantly I deserved it. I think we can all find personal reasons to see it through. Start with why... as Simon Sinek would say

Trusting that feelings change.
I started meditation 4 or 5 years ago using Headspace. Through this, I have learned that feelings change. We could feel negative about something today, and we can trust that it can and will change in the future if we stay open-minded. Acknowledging that I had certain feelings about my past whether it was positive or negative and reassuring that some of these feelings would pass over time helped me embrace each phase and gave me the necessary time and permission to take in without needing to rush through. There is no good emotion nor bad emotion. They are all just emotions.

Writing regularly without editing. 
Baum-kuchen believes in personal writing, and I wholeheartedly stand behind it. It is not about a fancy pen and notebook but just the act of writing, writing and more writing. I rarely read back my past entries but I know I have written a lot in the last five or so years and watched myself evolve as more words poured out on the page. My pages never judged me nor tried to correct me and I am thankful for that.

Saying thank you to the past. 
The last push came when I was watching Netflix series, "Tidying up with Marie Kondo". The idea of having gratitude even to the items that no longer fit in our lives resonated with me.

I recognize that my brother's passing and what happened after left a deep mark on me. It has been challenging and beautifully insightful at the same time. Over time, I have grown more aware and thankful that my parents probably did the best they could for me and my sisters, "the remaining siblings" despite the heartbreak they went through. None of us were perfect nor acted perfectly, but I now trust that all of us involved in our story was well-meaning and have done our best.

Most importantly, I have learned an early lesson about life's impermanence as a twelve-year-old. The true but easy to forget concept "we have no control over when life begins and how and when it ends" has been deeply engraved in my bones. Because of this lesson, I believe in the optimism of living life in the moments. The spirit of living today because today truly might be the only day.

Without this insight, I would have led a very different life. And I can say that truly and honestly, I would not have lived my life in any other way. No matter what happened, my past belongs to me. I believe in embracing the lesson and letting who I have become shine.

I never knew that letting go would happen until it just kind of did. I suppose we can't really plan for these things but just trust the process that it will happen. I don't have any secret sauce in life and will always be work in progress, but I am sending much love to everyone who carries a weight of the past on the shoulder. May we all experience our personal history in the tender part of our hearts someday instead of as a burden on our shoulder.

Trust the process.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Starting the new year with Hobonichi 5-Year Techo

What does it mean to visualize 5, 10, 15 years? We see it in kids' growth. But how about our inner growth? 

10 years ago, I picked up a 10-year journal when I was visiting Germany. I had no idea what I was going to write when I opened the first page so I put a sticky note that said, “write to 40 years old. And so as the relationship with this notebook and me started. It's hard for me to believe that it has been 10 years since I put the sticker note. I finished writing in my journal and have turned 40 years old in this past December. 

Satchi and Coco emptied their piggy bank and bought me the 5-Year Techo Hobonichi Techo for my 40th birthday. Today, Satchi and I journal every night next to each other... writing things that happened on the day or whatever that might be in our minds. Satchi often talks about how she will be 13 years old when I finish writing my 5-Year Techo. I know I will hold onto this 5-Year Techo not only because I will be writing a lot of our stories but also the shared moments writing in them side by side. 

I shared a little bit about why I believe the kind of long-term journal is meaningful. I hope the story resonates with you!

p.s. we are sold out of the 5-Year Techo for 2019-2023. If you are interested, you can still get them directly from Hobonichi website here!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Metamorphosis: [TSLxBK] Notebook Cover // New vs. 1 year old

It's always so intriguing to see how natural nude leather wears in over time. I have been using [TSLxBK] JIBUN Techo Cover A5 Slim in all leather (nude) for this past year. I was delightfully surprised to see the difference between the new cover vs. my aged worn-in cover side by side when we received the new inventory from The Superior Labor a few weeks ago so I thought I would share them with you through photographs!
We have a few artifacts made by TSL which uses this "TSL special" leather (including our favorite Pen Holder Clip). Their leather feels incredible in hands so naturally, I tend to pick it up pretty often when a notebook is wrapped in this cover. You can definitely see a lot of my personal imprints from natural usages like the darkened area where notebook cover folds in half, as well as some extra customization including wabi-sabi, embossed stamp and stenciled letter "w" on the back cover. 
I hope you enjoy witnessing how the leather ages and wears in if you have one of their natural nude leather artifacts. 

p.s you can see all of their leather covers in different sizes here

Sunday, November 4, 2018

"Trust the Process" Design Process by Frido Beisert

At Baum-kuchen, we are designing and tinkering our next ideas every day. During summer 2018 while BK family was living in Hamburg, Germany, our creative director, Frido (also known as the dad of the studio), has developed many new designs for upcoming BK graphics. 

In this video, you will see and hear how his design adventure is never a straight line but more of a manner of taking a leap one stepping stone at a time. The most important part of the process is to "trust the process." Let the journey guide you instead of the other way around. The rest will follow. 

Using this method, our favorite quote, "The Journey is the Destination" was reimagined and reframed into the new design. 

I hope you enjoy taking a sneak peek into our BK design process! And if you would like to know more about Frido's creative process, please check out his book, Creative Strategies.

BK items mentioned in the video:
Trust the Process Notebook (A5 Slim Size)
Traveler's Notebook 
Lamy Fountain Pen
Modern Fuel Mechanical Pencil
Creative Strategies Book by Frido 
TSL Paint Small Shoulder Bag
The Journey is the Destination Stamp (brass charm to arrive soon)

Thank you BK team for producing this video:
Frido for sharing his creative process and his designs;
Eunice for editing the footage beautifully;
Wakako for being the cheerleader for all contents produced for and by BK. 

Follow us:
website: www.baum-kuchen.net
Instagram: baumkuchenstudio
Facebook: baumkuchen.shop

Music: http://us.audionetwork.com/ 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Connecting with Creative Minds: 877 Workshop Studio Visit

One of the greatest gifts during our summer stay in Germany has been meeting and connecting with other creative minds. Getting to know Sylvia and Daniel of 877 Workshop was quite serendipitous as most of our encounters tend to be. I first saw the thumbnail image of 877 Workshop graphic on the IG notification. Their graphic grabbed my attention and I was so excited to find out that their workshop was located in Hamburg. Their IG profile featured their store address so I assumed that they had a physical location so Frido and I strolled their neighborhood looking for their storefront on a really hot and humid Hamburg summer day.

When we found their place, the door was locked and it did not look like their space was opened for visitors. Frido almost turned around and I insisted that we at least rang a bell to see if we could take a look. Sylvia kindly let us in and as Frido and I walked into their space with our eyes marveling their artifacts, she calls out to us by saying, "are you Baum-kuchen?"

We, of course, got in talking about how much we love and appreciate great craftsmanship, analogue tools, and artifacts made with care and I almost forgot that we had our kids at Frido's parents' house. (Yes. Kids were totally fine with their Omi and Opi and ice cream treats:)

What astonished us was Sylvia and Daniels' obsession with vintage analogue machines, tools, and molds as well as their passion for crafting their own tools to produce 877 Workshop artifacts. They walked us through their well-maintained vintage tools and machines and generously shared their design process with us. The spontaneous conversation led us to a possible future collaboration... and now we are waiting for the first round of prototype to arrive from their studio. (And it includes beautiful one-of-the-kind brass charms handmade by 877 Workshop).

I often get asked how we find artifacts we carry at Baum-kuchen. If I frequent to various trade shows to hunt for new and trendy items. The truth is that I believe that serendipity and karma take care of a lot of our past, present, and future curation at Baum-kuchen. The process works out on its own without feeling forced to add more items on our shelves just to keep up with the fast turnaround of consumerism and what's trendy.

I am so thankful to have met Daniel and Sylvia in a way we did because it was just the way I love to encounter what might be for our future BK collection. And more so, to have made the new friends who are so unique, inquisitive, and passionate about what they do.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Traveling and Designing

We just launched new designs for BK original products. I am so excited to say that all these ideas came out based on our experiences during the summer months in Japan and Germany, and in many ways, they are condensed essence of our insights and learnings. Travel does so many wonders to our creative souls and if you have an opportunity to step away from your everyday routines and pursue your creative passion, definitely do it!! I absolutely stand behind the idea. 

The new designs are all currently manifested in rubber stamps. I am hoping that together, we can spread these message out to the whole world! 

For many years, Frido and I have been searching for inspiration and ideas to visualize our love for all things analogue. 
During our stay in Germany, we were reunited with vintage letterpress typography blocks which have been a part of our family treasure for many decades. These wooden blocks triggered the design inspiration.
Each letter was physically laid out by Frido one piece at a time to create the composition that is authentic and unique. Instead of using the letterpress process to create the design impression, we have used watercolor to transfer the design. We hope you enjoy watching a short video that captures a part of our design process. 

Is it a stamp or is it a reminder? We are happy to be both. The design of "Time is Now" was born through our personal life experience to be present. To live and feel as each moment unfolds. 
We hope you will be able to use this stamp as a gentle reminder for your every day.

We have always gravitated to the idea of "Always + Forever" in our relationship with our loved ones. We appreciate that it requires our actions from every day to create something long-lasting and beautiful. 
As we flipped through a vintage gardening book during our stay in Europe, we came upon a page where it described different messages garden layouts could be embedded with. One of them was the forever love, and we knew that it was a sweet inspiration to conceptualize the design. 
We hope that you will be able to continue to celebrate small milestones throughout the course of the relationship as a chain of infinite hearts represent. 
The design inspiration comes from our admiration of cherry blossom and its seasonal cycle. We appreciate that cherry blossom is beautiful when it is full bloom as well as when it starts to fall which is an excellent example of the "wabi-sabi" philosophy. 
The MINI size is perfect for adding vignette details to your planners and journals. Also just the right size for a postcard accent. 

The statement "The Journey is the Destination" has been our guiding principle through our Baum-kuchen journey since 2010. We are excited to share our updated design to capture the essence of the message. 
The design of "JOURNEY" comes from a stenciled graphic that was physically punched out by a vintage stenciling machine originally used to label oil barrels. We then fused the design of "JOURNEY" with inspiration from vintage labels. 

We have always told ourselves that "Life is Travel". It's full of adventures, discoveries, and companionships. While we (BK family) spent sunny summer in the city of Hamburg, we have watched many container ships go by on the river Elbe. Slowly but steadily. The idea of these ships visiting many cities all over the world has inspired us to create the vintage travel poster inspired design. 
We hope that this design will be an inspiration and a gentle reminder for you to keep moving forward in life. Slow and steady at your own pace. 
As a part of the BK Analogue Tribe, we love refilling analogue energy for like-minded pen and paper enthusiasts. 
I am sure you can relate!
We hope this stamp gets utilized in many different places including your journal pages, postcards, and an everyday memo to your friends and families as a way to share your love for analogue.

Up Close and Personal with Roterfaden

I had the honor to visit Roterfaden headquarter in the city of Saarbr├╝cken last week to meet Beate, the owner of Roterfaden and see a glimpse of behind the scene. We have been representing Roterfaden for 5 years (where did the time go by??) at Baum-kuchen and have always really appreciated working with the Roterfaden team because they are so thorough and thoughtful in their working relationship.

After spending a day with Beate and talking everything from family life, business operation, to what's next for Roterfaden, I came home feeling energized and confident with our BK studio motto, "first and foremost, we are personally in love with what we share at Baum-kuchen not only the artifacts but also people who are behind those artifacts ". I always thought this was very important for us but now... more than ever, I feel incredibly strong about it.

What makes Roterfaden so authentic, beautiful, and innovative? From our conversation, I learned Beate is a designer and a conscientious business owner. I saw so many evidence that she tinkers, creates, and prototypes her ideas rigorously. And I understood that the smart clip system and holistic branding of Roterfaden have been her true labor of love. I also really appreciate that she works with a network of artisans to make Roterfaden come alive. There are so many creatives behind every component of the Roterfaden and Beate personally works with each one of them to ensure the quality of each Roterfaden cover is the best it can be while the process continues to support other small businesses of makers and creatives.

Her passion for sourcing materials locally is also a differentiator for Roterfaden. She is keen on ensuring that Roterfaden is produced most sustainably. This philosophy touches from where she gets her materials to using each material most consciously without sacrificing her design. She is constantly hunting for a new idea of using recycled materials such as nylon fabric that is harvested from unused high-quality tents. (Have you seen the ST_17 Roterfaden cover which uses the upcycled tent materials??)

During our day together, we started discussing the ideas for our future collaborations. Yes. Beate and I made a huge creative mess in their back room!! And I think that's what it takes to pursue a raw idea together. Being there with open mindedness, talking about what we each believe in, playing with materials in our hands, sketching, and laughing together. I can't wait to share some of the ideas to come true in the near future. For now... I hope you enjoy a little snipets of my Roterfaden visit on our YouTube channel!

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Travel with Kids // Hamburg, Germany

Hello from Hamburg, Germany!
We have always traveled with our little ones through thick and thin. One thing we realized after trying out different travel itinerary type, planning (and then tossing out the plan once we get there) around kids' needs makes the travel so much more fun and meaningful to our family than following cookie-cutter tourist spots.

Our kids especially love animals, nature, and treasure hunting so we have included some fun and family-friendly spots to visit in and around the city of Hamburg!

The Elbe River
Our family spent so much time bicycling up and down The Elbe. If Frido and I ask the girls what they would like to do on a sunny day, they would surely tell us "go to the Elbe" with their English-German accent. Along the Elbe, we have found so many "favorite hung out spots" between the city and Blankenese to enjoy the family beach day while marveling giant container ships go by the Elbe. My favorite day would include some beach time for kids to run around and splash then sit at the open cafe along the Elbe to enjoy cold beverages and Currywurst (the popular street food with German sausages drenched in ketchup and curry powder... so good!!!). StrandPerle definitely is one of the fun cafes to stop by. We have only been there during the daytime but heard it would be fun to visit in the evening to enjoy the view of the whole harbor twinkle with lights!

Wildpark Schwarze Berge
Satchi and Coco LOVE animals so visiting this wild park was a huge treat for our family. The park is located 30 minutes drive from the city on the other side of the Elbe River. We spent a whole day there! Our favorite was to feed wild pigs that were running around the walking path (they had clever ways to make sure they don't run away), playing with goats (and so many baby goats!!!), climbing a huge tower to view the whole city of Hamburg, and watching the bird show!

The park uses the natural landscape as a way to navigate and they have done such a great job. Walking through the park feels like walking through a forest with wild animals roaming around us.

Treasure hunting at flea markets!
There seems to be some kind of flea markets every weekend in the city. When kids were younger, it was hard for them to enjoy crowded markets but now they are 5 & 8, we can spend little more time hunting for heirloom artifacts. Hunting for treasures at a flea market must be one of Frido's favorite destination activities!

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Traveling with BK Sketch Notebook and Traveler's Notebook

Since our family started traveling in mid-June, I have been carrying my Traveler's Notebook everywhere. It's my wallet and my journal all at the same time. And maybe because we are away from home, I feel that holding my TN grounds me more than ever.

I finished my first travel refill and moved into the 2nd one. I'm using BK Sketch Notebook and loving it! Ame has recommended Global Arts Papers to be outstanding mixed-media papers and she was totally right. The pages have the mat tactility with just enough texture, and it works so well with fountain pens and watercolor paint. I also really appreciate the notebook cover Frido designed for this refill. We wanted to create an open-ended feel where the blank notebook does not intimidate anyone to start using... so all the design elements on the cover are hand drawn and written by Frido using his favorite mechanical pencil from Modern Fuel.

I know I will treasure my travel journal so much for many years to come.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

We have YouTube channel:)

One of the goals I have for this summer while I am away from the BK studio in Los Angeles is to be more fluid with our storytelling, especially with videos. So since we arrived in Germany, I'm having tons of fun tinkering on video editing.

And now we have our official YouTube channel:) 

I have added a little video above to our BK welcome clip. I hope you have a chance to stop by and check out our channel. Like everything, it's a slow process to figure out new things but I try to tell myself "slow and steady".

We have tons of ideas about stories we want to share using videos so please stay tuned!  

Friday, July 13, 2018

BK Official Instagram!

For the longest time, I went back and forth between having or not having the BK official Instagram account. We are such a petite and personal brand and I felt like having an "official" feed makes us separate from the intimate feeling I have always enjoyed. But now our family is traveling for such a long time... away from the physical studio in Los Angeles, it made sense that we have a separate account that keeps updated information and announcements about what is physically happening in our studio. So here it is!


Our hashtag is still #baumkuchenstudio if you would like to add a hashtag to your IG post when you share photographs and stories that relate to BK:) 

I also love that everyone from our BK team can contribute to this feed, not just myself. Like everything we do, the process will be very organic and I trust that it will reflect who we are in the truest manner. I am looking forward to sharing stories, ideas, thoughts, inspiration, an update from the BK team as well as from our beautiful community... and more on this thread. 

BK summer 2018. Here we come:)


Saturday, July 7, 2018

Stamping away with joy at Traveler's Factories!

Between our stay in Ishigaki Island and the final travel destination, Germany, we spent one night in Tokyo. We arrived in mid-afternoon, and we only had time until the next morning, so we kept our time simple. We booked a hotel nearby Tokyo station because we knew to arrive at Haneda airport from Ishigaki and to depart from Narita airport to Hamburg, Germany would be fairly accessible from there. We were also looking forward to visiting the Traveler's Factory in Tokyo Station.

Traveler's Factory, Tokyo Station
Maybe because I never lived in a metropolitan city with large transit facilities..., but Tokyo Station was pretty over the top for my senses. The underground avenues below the train stations that were laid out like spider webs very much felt like a giant maze to me. I researched ahead of time where the Traveler's Factory was inside of this large station, but it still took us a while to find it.

It was helpful to know that the store was inside of the section called "GrandSta Marunouchi". I kept asking people where this area was and once we were inside of the GrandSta Marunochi section, we were able to find an area map that gave us detail directions. I found out later that a part of the GrandSta Marunouchi (but not the whole) was inside of the paid part of the train station terminal (inside of the actual JR station) where you could only access with purchased train tickets. We bought the cheapest tickets even though we didn't need to ride any trains only to find out that Traveler's Factory was actually 'outside' of the train terminal. Ah! But we did find it after all, and all four of us had a lot of fun adding some exclusive stamps to our notebooks. Some of the special stamps featured different prefectures of Japan, so of course, we added: "Shizuoka," "Tokyo" and "Okinawa" to our pages.

On our last day in Japan as we were departing from Narita Airport, we had a few hours of an unexpected flight delay, so we luckily got to make a quick stop at Traveler's Factory in Narita Airport and once again stamped on our pages. At this store, the exclusive stamps featured different countries you could visit! I really loved how Traveler's Company differentiated the offerings based on the location of the stores. Satchi made a page on her TN refill about places she would like to visit. It included Egypt, Brazil, and Africa:)

Both stores are very compact and fun stops to make if you are trespassing the area.

To my joy, both of our girls are finally enjoying the art of adding stamps to different journal pages. It was delightful to watch Satchi and Coco's intentional face as they added different designs to their pages.


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