keiko furoshiki turns 1

Keiko Furoshiki Turns One!

This time last year, we were placing our first order for our furoshiki wraps and hoping we hadn't just made a big mistake. Fast-forward 12 months and here we are with a growing little business that brings us so much joy! 

A New Idea from a Centuries-Old Practice

The idea of Keiko Furoshiki took root around October 2022. Keiko and her son Tyler had discussed Keiko turning her art into a textile product for years. Well before Andrea was in the picture, Keiko was looking for a way to share her art with the world. Keiko studied Fine Arts at the University of Kansas and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and had been an art teacher for nearly 30 years. But a few short months after her 60th birthday, she was looking for something to define the next chapter of her artistic journey.

In the Fall of 2022, Andrea had an idea of using furoshiki, Japanese reusable gift wrap, as a medium for Keiko's art. Since Keiko is Japanese-American, it was not only culturally relevant, practical and sustainable, but was also a low-stakes product to make for a new business venture. Andrea was convincing and Tyler and Keiko were on board!  

No Time Like the Present

Keiko designed our first collection in no time. She came to our first design meeting with over 25 drafts of designs under the theme of "My Mother's Garden". An homage to Keiko's late mother who tragically passed away when Keiko was only a teenager, the patterns featured floral prints inspired by the seasons and gardens of Japan. We chose our first 8 prints and found a manufacturer using Global Recycling Standard 4.0 recycled polyester and based in the textile manufacturing capital of the world: Hangzhou. 

With Keiko's designs, Tyler's experience with manufacturing, and Andrea's marketing skills, Keiko Furoshiki was born in the spring of 2023 and officially registered as an LLC on April 20th. 

Reusable Fabric Gift Wrap Furoshiki from Keiko Furoshiki

DIYing Everything 

One of the challenges of starting a small business is not having the budget to pay for ...anything. We learned to do our own product photography, web design, ad design, and spend hours doing wholesale prospecting, social media, press outreach, and more. Even in the middle of wedding planning, getting sick, and living in different countries, the team was still making time to get the business off the ground and the first sale was actually the morning of Tyler and Andrea's wedding. 

Andrea trying not to spread her germs 

 

Tatcha Calling

One of the biggest wins in our early days of Keiko Furoshiki was when the marketing team at Tatcha emailed us asking to hire our team to make furoshiki wrapping tutorials for their upcoming Holiday campaign. They had furoshiki made to accompany their luxury gift sets and needed a knowledgeable voice to demo the many ways you can reuse fabric gift wrapping. This deal was not only an encouraging signal of our growing digital footprint, but it was also an opportunity to get some cashflow to keep paying for advertisement, our next order of furoshiki, and more. 

Press Coverage 

Leading up to Christmas and around Earth Day (April 22), we were blown away by the positive press coverage we received about our product. We are always so grateful when others are excited about our mission and the beauty of furoshiki gift wrap!

Social Media Love

Likewise, our social media community has been a wonderful place to share our wrapping tutorials. In December, Instagram Shop featured us in a week of gift wrapping-themed content! We also did our first influencer marketing campaign with Effective Spaces and go many reshares for our 25 Days of Wrapping series

 

Branching Out Beyond DTC

Wholesale Retail

Growing our business little by little has been slow but meaningful work and we're excited to accelerate with wholesale retail partners. You can buy from us on Bulletin, or shop on Faire Marketplace. We're currently stocked in one store and plan to expand a lot this year. 

Custom Furoshiki

Another offering that is taking off is your Brand Collaborations and Custom Furoshiki. With Keiko, our in-house designer and our manufacturing relationships, we can create custom prints and have furoshiki manufactured in silk, organic cotton, and recycled polyester and help stores and brands offer a sustainable wrapping for promotional campaigns, gift-with-purchase, or item for sale among their offerings.  

Spoonflower

Now, fans of our prints can purchase more of Keiko's patterns on Spoonflower, a fabric sourcing website. Buy prints by the yard in all sorts of fabrics or purchase pre-made items like tablecloths, duvet covers, and kitchen linens. We're so excited to offer more of Keiko's art in various formats beyond our furoshiki collections. 

keiko furoshiki spoonflower

In-Person Events

Since our team is spread across two countries, we have never done in-person pop-ups or markets. This year, we're participating in the annual AAPI Heritage Festival in Kansas City, Missouri on May 11. 

We're also exhibiting at our first trade show at NY Now in New York on August 4-7, 2024. 

 

Thank you so much for supporting us and follow along to see what we get up to this year! 
Andrea, Keiko, and Tyler 
RuffRuff App RuffRuff App by Tsun
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