Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Trying to bounce back...

Thank you so much for all the support on the last post I shared... It means a lot to me to get your feedback and thoughts. I am having surprisingly difficult time moving forward. My head is trying to move on... but it feels like my heart is still stuck... worried. The other company stealing the product description was disappointing... but then also to know that they are selling the Traveler's Notebook so much cheaper is disturbing as a business owner.

On top of that... Coco has been teething... waking up more frequently at night... leaving me slightly exhausted.

I've been a bit of downer for last few days so Frido made me new TN charms for the shop to cheer me up and gave me some free time this afternoon to step out to clear my head... and as of now he is retouching our chalkboard signage that got smudged over the weekend. Thank you Frido. You are my rock...

Growing pain is hard to go through but I know we will get through this... coming out stronger and better. This is good for us. We have to keep reinventing ourselves... evolving with time... staying ahead.

Because the only constant is change. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Pros and cons of being an online retailer...

update: 11/6/13
We are thankful that Amazon has taken down the product description they copied from our site for MIDORI Traveler's Notebook. Thank you everyone for all the support and encouragement you shared to get through this issue. -wakako

So... our mood is little down here at our Baum-kuchen headquarter (aka. our kitchen) tonight. It's not often that we share not-so-happy news in this space but I believe transparency is important for us... and many people have asked me what has been my experience on running online business so I hope it will provide some thoughts to ponder for fellow online retailers or future businesses.

As many of you know... MIDORI's Traveler's Notebook has been our steady staple at Baum-kuchen shop. In fact... Traveler's Notebook was one of the reason why we started our store 3.5 years ago... because we fell in love with Traveler's Notebook and their simple yet clever system and we wanted to share them in the U.S. and beyond. It has been an amazing journey to witness Traveler's Notebook grow and have its own life to inspire so many people all over the world.

Recently I noticed that there are a lot of customers who are ordering TN refills... but the sales for actual leather cover has slowed down a bit compared to few months ago. One of my customer kindly shared where she found her Traveler's Notebook cover... and of course... via Amazon (link here).

First I was genuinely happy that she was able to find her Traveler's Notebook for more reasonable price. At the end of the day... we are one of the biggest Traveler's Notebook fans and I am thrilled that there are more people who can afford the notebook. Of course we will not be able to match the price since we are probably much smaller in scale and lowering the price simply to compete for the cost will not be sustainable for us. Instead our philosophy has always been to be honest about pricing and pour our energy into making sure that our customers are smiling when they receive the package from us.

But as I browsed their Amazon page and clicked "more description", I was surprised to see that their written product description sounded awfully familiar... in fact... identical to what I wrote few years back when I first introduced Traveler's Notebook at our shop.  (I copied and pasted their description below and red parts are exactly same as description on our website)
"Midori Traveler's Notebook is a refillable leather sketchbook that will accompany you through a great journey of everyday life as well as an exciting adventure around the world. The Travelers Notebook features a high quality leather cover that is handmade in Chiangmai, northern city of Thailand. The vegetable tanned leather cover feels great in your hands and it becomes softer and more beautiful as it travels time with you. Traveler's Notebook is perfect for carrying small memorandum from a trip. You will never be out of a great notebook to jot down your ideas while on the go. Upon unwrapping the notebook, you will find a white powder-like particle on the brand new leather. This is a result of its manufacturing process. You can wipe the leather surface with soft cloth and the particle will come off very easily. The inside refillable notebook is made in Japan with Midori's original paper with the highest writing quality. The notebook can be incorporated inside of the leather cover using a rubber band that is fastened by a clasp made of tin. The leather cover can be closed with a color-coordinated rubber band that goes around the outside of a sketchbook. Either you are an avid backpacker who loves to explore the world or a mom who immerses yourself in the everyday adventure with your kids... the Traveler's Notebook will be a great place to capture your thoughts, inspiration and ideas, which will become an artifact that you can hold on to."
When I first wrote the product description, I really thought about how to best communicate the beauty of Traveler's Notebook in words and revised few times so that it best highlights its system. It might sound silly... but it took me a quite a while to get to the final draft. So when I realized that someone took away and pasted on their site, I couldn't help to feel sad and disappointed. 

On one side, I totally understand it's so easy to copy and paste an online content and an incident like this is unavoidable. On the other hand... I wish that we all respect common courtesy to stay honest and have a good manner. I shared the news with Frido when I came home this afternoon and I believe he wrote a courtesy letter to Amazon just to let them know that it happened. We will see what happens next. I would be so happy if they would write their original description while keeping the price low for their customers. 

What do you think?? 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Last week... (and it's already Friday!)

It's already the end of Friday... and I am having hard time remembering exactly how last week went... so I will let the photos do the talking. All I remember (and I need to remember) is that I am pouring a lot of energy into Baum-kuchen... everyday (and evenings at odd hours before sun comes up)... and 98% of the other time is focused and dedicated to my family, my love. 

Hope you have a lovely weekend! 

We are open tomorrow afternoon:)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Probably a lot of parents can relate to this subject... bedtime routine. There are a lot of theories about what is the best way to put kids to sleep. But there is no right or wrong way of doing it... and the decision of how to craft nightly routine is a very personal one.

Over last three years we have gone through co-sleeping with Roo to helping her to sleep in her own bed by laying next to her... to finally letting her have more ownership of her toddler size bed recently. Even though she sleeps most of the night in her own bed now, bedtime routine has been challenging. We are usually so tired by the end of night including ourselves which leads to less patience and more whining... and what could be a peaceful end of the night ends up being full of crying and disappointment. And it's not helping that she thinks that there is a monster in her closet and all the sudden is very scared of darkness.

Then our friend Susan sent me this link few days ago and it made both me and Frido feel differently about our bedtime routine for Roo. Tonight when I heard her say, "can you hold me?" after brushing her teeth, I answered to her, "I will hold you until you are ready." She and I hang out for 10 minutes or so on her bed and I focused on just being there and showing how much I love and care about her. After a while I could feel that Roo relaxed... and I said to her, "I love you so much...". She looked at me, smiled and closed her eyes.

It was special. I am thankful that the last word she heard from me today was full of love and tenderness...

because I love her and she deserves the best from us everyday and every night.

**photo taken by Courtney of Erin Hearts Court

Sunday, October 20, 2013


I woke up at 3:30am this morning with Coco... and never went back to sleep till 5:30am or so. I mean... how do I put myself back to bed when there are so many exciting things going on??? I was hoping that I would sleep in... but my sunshine came to wake me up telling me that the actual sunshine was out. We surely have early birds here at home:)

A cup of coffee and this breakfast was such a nice treat. LOVING the berry sauce Susan stocked up in our refrigerator.

The rest of the day was a mixed batch. We had lovely family gardening time in the morning followed by Coco's teething drama. Poor little girl. Never seen her being so unhappy:( We saw multiple teeth coming out from top and bottom gums. Must be quite painful. We ended up giving her teething topical medicine and it seemed to have helped. I was happy to see her smile and giggle again. Oh, how the great motherhood always keeps me on my toes.

Frido and I also had a really good chat about prioritizing some of the things we want to accomplish in next 2.5 month. (aka... by the end of the year) It's so tempting for us to keep adding more to reach for... but it's time to focus. Focus on quality over quantity.

New week... here we come!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Friend who inspires... / Angie Park

I am so lucky to have so many creative friends around me... They inspire me, push me and show me what we are capable in life. My friend Angie is one of them.

She was a friend who accompanied me when I first went to see our "now" studio/shop. I must say that her presence during the property viewing made a big difference in how I felt about the place... she is that kind of person who brings positive vibe to the world around her.

After our small get together in August, she went back to her home in New York... and surprised us with a big departure to Europe... to walk the Camino de Santiago across northern Spain - a 500 mile, 30 day pilgrimage route to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia.

She is now on her 10th day of walking the way... and her blog has become one of my favorite online place to visit.  The struggle, pain and frustration as well as her joy and insight she feels and shares on her blog is so real. Sometimes I cry... reading her posts.

She inspires me by being who she is and pushing herself to learn more about life and I am so thankful to be knowing her...

Keep walking, Angie!


all photos from her blog, Angie Park

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Last week

last week was AWESOME! Our friend Susan was staying with us and we managed to squeeze a lot of quality time between the event prep! LOVE!!

Wednesday was a rainy day but we took an adventure to Altadena farmer's market and that's when I first tried SQIRL jam... The jam was so good that I convinced Susan that we need to eat at their cafe in Silverlake and it was amazing. If you are ever in Silverlake area, I highly recommend trying SQIRL's breakfast or lunch!

... and you know what happened on Saturday...

Following the big date, we mostly hang around the house on Sunday. Staying in the pajama for the big chunk of the morning, making ice cream with Susan... and brainstorming on what's next!

I love that our opening party is only the beginning! The journey continues:)


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Baum-kuchen studio/shop opening party!

I am glad to share that we had a fantastic studio / shop opening party on Saturday! A week leading up to the event was pretty "full". My friend Susan was staying with us for a week to help us with EVERYTHING from filling our belly with her delicious cooking, playing with our girls, packaging some of the products... to giving me critical feedback on the styling of the space. And having a friend nearby for the busy week kept me sane. I kept telling myself that the most important thing is that we all have fun:)

I also feel really lucky that the event has taken its own life to become a joint party between Stefan (a furniture designer across the street), SWRVE (a bicycle apparel shop next door) and our shop's opening! Verdugo Bar also shared their yummy beer and the owners of Lemon Poppy Kitchen (my favorite breakfast place!) stopped by with their pastries to welcome us to the neighborhood! I am so head over heels (did I get this expression correctly??) on Glassell Park.

Friends and families from all over Los Angeles (and San Jose for my sister) joined us to celebrate the occasion and I am so happy to be able to share our humble start with everyone. It was also very special to meet our lovely online customers Steven and Alison! They were just as sweet in person;) The love and support we felt from the community was beyond our word!

Here are some photos our friend Susan and Dice took during the event! It was really hard to pick handful (okay... I know there are more than handful...) but I tried to pick a variety to show some of the moments from the afternoon. I posted more photos on our Facebook page if you would like to see!



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