All posts by Yuko

About Yuko

Hi! I'm Yuko! I'm the illustrator/artist at Honeyberry Studios. I live and work out of my home studio in Seattle, Washington. I like to create art that is joyful, happy, and accessible. I get my inspiration from everyday small things, nature, animals, and food.

This is what makes me do a happy dance ⭐️

Do you know what your “Love Language” is?

We all experience love and connection differently. Gary Chapman has a book called The 5 Love Languages and talks about what they are and how it can help deepen your relationships with your loved ones.

There are 5 categories of Love Languages – Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch.

Do you know what yours is?

(You can take a quiz here if you wanna know!)

Mine is Words of Affirmation. So any verbal or written appreciation or encouragement is all I need to keep going.

BTW – it’s really low on Dave’s Love Language totem pole (his is Quality Time), so in the beginning of our relationship, I had to constantly remind him that I needed him to say “thank you” when I did something nice. In return, I need to remember to spend more time with him rather than just saying I love him 😀

It’s no wonder I get a major love fix from your customer reviews!

Every time I get a notification that someone’s left a review, I do a happy dance!

Not only does it make me ridiculously happy, it also lets other shoppers know that my shop and products are legit.

So here I am asking you for a favor 😉

If you’ve purchased my goods (including from a retail shop) and LOVED it, would you mind taking a couple of minutes to leave a positive review?

You can do so by going to my online shop, find the item(s) you bought, scroll down, click on the “Write a review” button, and write something nice. It’s super easy!

What should you say? Well, I have some ideas 💡

You can say a little bit about why you bought the product, how you felt when you received the item, what’s your favorite thing about the product (e.g. colors, texture, a message etc.), how you’ve used the product, how the customer service was etc.

If you’ve gifted it to someone, you can say what the reaction of your recipient was or why you bought it for that particular person – seriously, anything is helpful!

And, If you’ve ever had a negative experience with my shop or products, please do contact me privately first. I care about your experience deeply and will do my best to fix it, ok?

Thanks for being awesome 😘

xo

ps. Last day to place your order before Christmas is Sunday, December 16th!

pps. Seattle local? Come shop with me at more craft fairs!

🍁🍂Happy Thanksgiving!🍂🍁

Happy Thanksgiving, friend!

I hope you’re having a relaxing day and you’re surrounding yourself with people who make you happy.

I’ll be spending some time with our friends this morning and then off to Port Townsend for Port Townsend Holiday Craft Sale Nov. 23-24.

I’ll be sad to miss our annual Thanksgiving dinner with my American family 😢 but looking forward to our mini work/fun getaway.

Holiday time is by far the busiest time of the year for me and many other creative business owners.

I’m so grateful for you and feel very lucky every day that I get to make art that brings you joy!

Thank you for being awesome ❤️

If you’re traveling for the holiday, be safe

xo

DIY Llama calendar tea towel & winter kitty projects!

Hi friend,

Do you LOVE pretty things?

(I assume you are if you’re reading my blog😉)

I love having beautiful things around because they make me happy!

Vibrant colors and joyful designs always lift up my mood.

That’s why I’m so excited to tell you that you can now enjoy more fun designs in my Spoonflower fabric shop.

How about this adorable 2019 Llama Dream calendar tea towel??

It’d make a perfect holiday gift for a llama lover (or an alpaca lover, you know they’re almost the same thing).

Purchase this design in linen cotton canvas ultra (which is sturdy and absorbent) fat quarter, 18″x27″. All you have to do is trim the ends and sew around the hem.

Easy peasy, right??

Also, my winter kitty design is available as fabric!

How about a tote bag to carry your books or groceries?

Or a pillow to cozy up with this winter!

Don’t even get me started on how ADORABLE this dress is 😍😍😍 Will you please make this for a tiny person in your life and send me a photo??

I might cry.

I got a yard of fleece to make this no-sew blanket. I intend to gift it to my friend’s baby – unless I decide it’s too cute I can’t part with it 😂

Too much cuteness?

I hope you can handle this because I’ve got 27 other designs (yes, twenty-seven) you can play with in my shop.

How about these adorable pillows from my last holiday collection?

Who would’ve thought to make your own lamp shade? With fabric? If you love succulents, this could be your jam😍

Go ahead and explore the most adorable fabric collections here!

Enjoy 😘

xo

ps. Be sure to read their holiday shipping timeline and mark your calendar. It could take 2+ weeks to get your fabrics.

🐱🍄 Cats and mushrooms 🍄🐱

Hey,

I was on my 7th week sabbatical this past week.

What the heck is that? A fine question. I take every 7th week off to rest and recharge. A practice I started in October, 2015 inspired by seanwes.

(This is pretty much how I stay sane and don’t get burnt out in my biz.)

But I wanted to pop in and say hello!

I’m actually not feeling 100% this week, so this time off came at a perfect timing.

My week’s itinerary included: sleeping more, organizing my inventory for the upcoming holiday fair season, and just kind of hanging out on the couch a lot.

I also thought it’d be fun to show you what I’ve been working on in my pottery class at South Seattle College this quarter.

Tuxedo cat ornaments are coming back! 

Once they’re glazed, these cuties will be going to King Street Maker’s Market 11/29-12/2. If I have leftovers, I’ll post them in the shop later!

I’ve also been working on some personal projects.

I plant to mount these mushrooms and the hedgie on a wall in our kitchen to create a fun woodland scene 🦔🍄 I wanna make different seasonal themes so we can switch them around throughout the year!

Oh the possibilities are endless 😍

xo

Self-care is not selfish 💗

How do you take care of yourself?

Or, are you that person who feels “self-care” is a nice thought but not meant for you?

Do the words “self-care” make you cringe and fill you with guilt?

What’s self-care anyway?

You may think of cliche things like taking a bubble bath and eating chocolate 🍫 (which is my favorite).

I see it as giving yourself what you need emotionally, physically, and mentally so you can be loving and present with yourself and people you care about.

For example, when I feel overwhelmed and not like myself, I:

– Lie down and close my eyes for 10 minutes.

– Break down what I’m overwhelmed about into smaller steps and do something.

– Watch cute animal videos on YouTube (thank goodness for the internet!)

– Talk to Dave. Sometimes, all I need to feel better is to verbalize how I’m feeling.

– Doodle.

– Cancel dinner with friends if I’d rather stay home and have an alone time.

– Eat a donut and don’t punish myself for it.

– Take a walk.

– Diffuse my favorite essential oils (my fave uplifting combo is lavender, wild orange, and peppermint from doTerra.)

– Watch a sad movie and cry.

– Give someone else encouragement.

– Make a list of what I’m grateful for, no matter how small.

(These are just some of the things that help me – your list may look very different, and that’s OK!)

At my old non-profit job, we once had a speaker come and talk to us about the importance of self-care.

She said “saying no to someone else is saying yes to yourself.” And that’s stuck with me for many years.

(In fact, I should make a card saying that 💡yes?)

You know, self-care’s like taking care of your car – if you take it in for a regular maintenance, you prevent the major issues from cropping up in the future – saving you money and the headaches (and accidents!) in a long run.

Nobody thinks taking a good care of your car is selfish. They actually think it’s smart!!

Self-care works the same way. If you do small things to take care of yourself every day, it’ll keep you away from that scary B-word.

BURN-OUT.

Who wants a burn-out? NOBODY. If you’re burnt out, you stop caring. You’re no good for anyone, including yourself.

You may think “nah, I’m too busy for this. I’m doing OK.”

Hear me out. It’s not the matter of “if,” it’s “when.” Just like a head gasket in your car, which is guaranteed to get blown at a certain mileage (speaking from an experience 🙋🏻‍♀️), burnout will happen if you never stop to take care of yourself.

Taking care of yourself before you get too drained to care is not selfish. It’s necessary.

You know, your friends and family don’t care as much if your house is sparkling clean or your kid’s dressed in a perfectly matching outfit – they’d prefer that you’re happy and fun to be around.

My “Self-Care is not Selfish” design has resonated with many people since I created it last summer.

It tells me that so many of us struggle to put our needs first.

We all need to believe in this message. And if you need to hear it from someone else, hear it from me!

And now it’s available as a vinyl, dishwasher safe sticker!

Decorate your water bottle, mug, laptop, bike helmet, or car with this sticker (I have a friend who put my “You Are Enough” sticker on her bathroom mirror as a daily reminder ❤️) so you can take it wherever you go.

I hope my little creation will remind you that you’re a human being who deserves a little TLC every day❤️

xo

 

Here is how you can cross off that big “to-do” on your list 📝

Hey friend,

My winter holiday craft fair calendar is finalized!

I’m gonna be busy, busy, busy but happy, happy, happy to see you there 😍

Holiday craft fairs are pure magic. You’ll meet lots of talented local makers and learn the story behind the goods they make.

How cool would it be to tell your loved ones that the art you bought was inspired by the artist’s past work in the anti gender-based violence? Or learn how the Chinese zodiac animals came to be??

(Which you can learn if you come chat with me at the fairs 😉)

And you’ll get to cross off “buy awesome holiday gifts for family” from your list while getting some cardio 👟 and admiring beautiful handmade stuff all day long.

Win win, right?

Most of the fairs offer food, music, and fun holiday decorations, too, so invite your friends to join you ❄️ I know you’re overdue for a quality time with your bff!

Visit my events page to get more details 😘

Hope to see you there!

xo

p.s. Go to my events page if you wanna know more about each fair.

p.p.s. My online shop is open 24/7 if you don’t live in the area.

Thinking of You 💌

Did you participate in the Thinking of You Week challenge?

If you did, how did you like it?

If you don’t know what I’m talking about…

Thinking of You Week is an international movement to encourage people to send more snail mails 🐌

The challenge was, during the week of September 24th – 30th, you were to send a card a day for 7 days and let someone know you’re thinking of them.

When Thinking of You Week USA contacted me on Instagram and asked if I’d join the challenge, I got so excited and knew right away I wanted to do it.

For someone who makes greeting cards for a living, I don’t send enough cards…😬

I think of a lot of people every day, but I don’t take the time to let them know I’m thinking of them.

The challenge came at a great timing. I’d just received a post card from my high school Japanese literature teacher and was thinking of writing him back.

I immediately thought of a few more people to write to – and others I just picked a person that came to mind during the week.

I had so much fun hand selecting a card that let me express what I wanted to say to each person.

Here are the 7 cards I sent out!

They went to my high school teacher, Mr. Eto, my artist friends I haven’t met in-person, Kelly and Laura, a friend/knitter/podcaster, C.C., my bff, Amie, my parents in Japan, and my sweetie, Dave.

(I actually mailed a card to Dave from our home to our home 😀 It was priceless to see the expression on his face when he got the mail! 😆)

Every day, I was giddy thinking about my friend receiving a card and being delighted.

It felt kinda like planning a tiny surprise party for them 🎊.

And that week I was stressed out about my website launch and the whole political chaos.

So having to pause every day to write to someone I cared about was good for my mental health.

It took me less than 10 minutes to write a message to each person – but that 10 minutes gave me peace.

It was peaceful because I was focusing on what I appreciated about them and how they were making my life better.

It gave me a pause to just “be.” I’m ok at this very moment. Nobody is hurting me. I’m safe. I’m surrounded by relationships that are positive and caring even if the person(s) may not be here with me right now.

I’m most definitely making this an annual tradition! I marked the week in my calendar for next year (September 23rd – 29th, 2019) and set to repeat annually.

And I promise I’ll be sending more snail mails in between 😉

xo

p.s. Inspired by the challenge? You can start your own “Thinking of You” week anytime you want! Browse my greeting card collection to get your list going ✨

Learning something new, feeling vulnerable, and letting go

Have you explored my new website yet?✨

(If you did, THANK YOU!)

I continue to feel super proud of what I’ve created – it’s beautiful and functional – but there have been challenges and learning curves as well.

You’d think once you launch a website, you can sit back and relax, watch orders pour in effortlessly, and move on to other exciting projects you’d put on hold until the website was done.

It turns out it’s actually a time when you learn that a bunch of things aren’t working properly and you have to fix it in a hyper speed 😱

Like when my first wholesale customer placed an order, she got charged full retail price at check out even though the correct wholesale prices were showing while she was shopping.

Oh, and I stopped getting emails to honeyberrystudios.com address when I first redirected the domain name to my new shop.

(Not to mention it took the domain server customer service over a week to connect my old domain to the new site. A long story and a mystery when I was able to do it in 5 minutes when I decided to take matters into my own hands.)

And finding out that Shopify doesn’t offer a very intuitive, customizable shipping settings, and it’s caused some confusions to both retail and wholesale customers.

(note: if you’re thinking about having a shop with Shopify, know that they lack some basic functions and would want you to buy more apps to customize your shop… do your research before jumping in!)

There are more minor things that have gone wrong, but every time an order comes in or I get a message from a customer, I get a little knot in my stomach thinking, “is something wrong?”

Because I’ve been fixing what I could (with the help of various developers of the apps), 95% of the time, nothing is wrong.

And I tell myself it’s good that I’m finding out the mistakes and hiccups now. And I’m grateful my customers are taking the time to tell me if something is not working.

Things will get easier in the future.

While I get it intellectually, it’s caused me some anxiety and stress, too.

I hate feeling incompetent and vulnerable.

I SO want you to have a positive experience when you interact with me and my shop.

But when something goes wrong and I have to send messages to customers explaining what happened and drop everything to put out fires, I fear that people would think I’m incompetent.

I fear that people would be annoyed they have to go through extra steps or wait till the problem is fixed.

I fear that you will lose trust in me.

(And leave me FOREVER 😭 Dramatic. I know.)

What’s making me extra vulnerable through this experience is that most of the problems, I have no clue how to fix.

Sure, I can fix typo and update images on my website, but customize apps and scripts? That’s WAY out of my expertise!!

So I’m having to rely on pros to fix the problems, and I’m super grateful they exist to help a non-techy like me.

But I have no control over how/when the problems are fixed. OR if it’s fixable at all 😱

Like the price calculation issue I just had with my wholesale customer, it was caused by an external change that the developers wouldn’t have known about. And it took them 4 days to figure out what was wrong and fix it.

Four days. Sure, I’m no Amazon, but it sure felt like a long time not knowing if my customers were gonna get charged the right price or not.

In the midst of feeling uncomfortable and ungrounded, I’ve reminded myself of a few things to stay centered again.

I’ve told myself things like:

“I’ve done challenging things before and somehow, I managed them. It’s gonna be OK again.”

“I’ve done my best to fix the problem and passed it on to the professionals who can help me. There is no good that comes from worrying about it now.”

“Trust doesn’t come from being perfect. People trust you because you’re honest about your mistakes and handle them with integrity.”

And I thought of this:

Boom.

It’s times like this, when I’m feeling vulnerable and insecure, that I want to pat myself on the back for creating art that encourages and nurtures our souls ✨😀

Honestly, I make happy, uplifting art because I need them the most.

I’d be a wreck if I’m not surrounding myself with positive art (and people!) that lift me up when I’m feeling down.

​Naturally, my website learning curve is getting less steep every day I work on it.

I’m not checking my email every 5 minutes to see if anything went wrong or if the developers have any updates for me.

I’m able to focus on other things in life and business (like making new art for my next collection 😻) and enjoying a slower month before the holiday fair season kicks in high gear in November.

Well, friend, I hope my creations cheer you up when you need a little boost ❤️​

Because that’s what it’s all about!

xo

p.s.🍂🍁 Don’t forget –  you get 5% off on your first order and all the future orders when you create a customer account in my new shop 😉 (offer ends on Monday, 10/22).

My winter holiday show schedule is here!

It’s October.

That means the winter holiday season is just around the corner.

(well, to me anyway 🙀)

I’ve been booking a bunch of holiday shows since summer, and here is my calendar! 👇

Eastlake High School Holiday Bazaar | Sat. 11/3, 9am – 3pm | Sammamish

Periwinkle Rose Open House | Sat. 11/10, 11am – 4pm | Snohomish

Tacoma is for Lovers Artist Craft Fair | Sun. 11/18, 11am – 4pm | Tacoma

Port Townsend Holiday Craft Sale | Fri. 11/23 & Sat. 11/24, 10am – 5pm | Port Townsend

King Street Maker’s Market Holiday Pop-Up | Thur. 11/29 – Sun. 12/2, 11am – 7pm | Seattle (*My new ceramic ornaments will be on display and for sale! I will not be present however.)

Phinney Winter Festival & Crafts Fair | Sat. 12/1 & Sun. 12/2, 10am – 5pm | Seattle

I’m still waiting to hear back from a couple of shows I applied for… I’ll keep you posted as I hear back from them🤞

If you’re not in the Seattle area and feeling sad you won’t be able to shop from me in-person…😭 I’m sad, too!! Well, at least you can shop all of my adorable gifts on my new and improved online shop now.

NOTE: You always get free US shipping for orders of $35 or more (before tax)! No coupon code needed.

If you’re in the area, I hope to see your beautiful face at one of the holiday shows 😘

xo

p.s. You can always check my updated holiday schedule on my new website here!

I opened my first Etsy shop in 2010…

{I took my mini sabbatical off during the week of 9/17 but instead of my normal sabbatical week report, I have a more urgent news for you…}

Hey friend,

I opened up my first Etsy shop in December 2010.

I’d posted a picture of my crocheted fingerless gloves on Facebook (can’t believe FB has been out there for so long…) and a couple of friends said “you can sell that!”

I didn’t know what Etsy was and it was hard to imagine if anyone would want to pay for what I made.

But I said “why not?”

So I opened up a shop called “TeAmi Works” – te ami means “hand-knit” or “hand-crocheted” in Japanese – and posted a few pairs of fingerless gloves I made.

(OMG the quality of photos were so BAD 😂 a humble beginning…)

The very first day, a super sweet customer in Nashville, Tennessee, purchased a pair and turned around and placed another order right away because her daughter loved them too and wanted a pair.

It was so rewarding to be appreciated for what I made with my own two hands.

I caught the bug and kept making more gloves and other crocheted accessories to sell.

Over the last 8 years, I’d moved on from making/selling crocheted wares because I got sick of making the same things over and over, and how could you price them for the time it takes really? (anybody wants $150 pair of fingerless gloves?? 😀 maybe with the right kind of positioning and marketing, but I didn’t know that stuff back then.)

I was getting more into drawing then and was getting the same kind of appreciation for it.

And people started asking me if they could pay me to draw or design something for them.

The light bulb went on again 💡

Drawing and selling cards and prints were much more in line with how I wanted to do business, so I slowly transitioned from selling crocheted stuff and adding more art in the shop.

I changed the name of the shop to “Honeyberry Studios” in 2013.

And, mind you, I was never a hot seller on Etsy – between 2010 and until I quit my day job in July 2015, maybe I sold a thing or two per month.

It only started to pick up after I quit my job and started to devote more time making and promoting my work.

But still, Etsy has never brought me enough sales consistently.

I feel it’s hit and miss, and there is the sense of “pay to play” (in fact, they raised their seller fee a couple of months ago) and you need to be on top of your SEO game etc., which I just don’t have the time and energy for.

I was originally going to build a separate shop just for my wholesale business – because Etsy decided to close their wholesale shops at the end of July this year.

I have a bunch of friends who do really well on Etsy, and I’m happy for them!!

But I don’t like the feeling of not being in control of my shop, and it’s just not working for me.

It was time for me to move on and have my own shop that’s under Honeyberry Studios’ name.

I started working on building my new shop back in May when they first announced the closure of Etsy Wholesale.

I then decided to combine both retail and wholesale shops in one place per Shopify’s advice (that’s who’s hosting my new shop now.)

I thought – oh, I’ll take a couple of weeks to finish bulk of the website. It’ll be done by the beginning of summer.

I’m not building it from scratch (thank you Shopify!) so how hard could it be? It’s basically just copy and paste, no?

WRONG.

I always tell myself everything takes 3x longer than you think. In this case, it took me almost 5 times longer 😅

There have been learning curves and bumps on the road, BUT the important thing is…

IT’S DONE!!!! 🎉🎊🎈

Without further ado, meet new Honeyberry Studios shop!!

Isn’t it pretty?? 😍

Not only is it prettier than my old website, it’s got more functions that make your shopping easier (and save you $).

Allow me to point out some of my favorite functions here.

(I know you know how to shop online – I’m just too excited to not talk about it!!! 😆)

First of all, you don’t need to enter a coupon code to get a free US shipping any more.

When your total purchase reaches the minimum of $35 (before tax), bam, your shipping’s free.

(I’ve been manually refunding shoppers on Etsy who forgot to use the coupon code. So it saves me time, too 😀)

I love how easy it is to create/select categories, too. Etsy only allowed a limited number of categories (I think), so it’s a big bonus.

You can either start shopping by selecting a category from the “Shop” button up top, or…

Scroll to see the categories visually laid out for you!

I’m particularly happy about how you can filter all of my greeting cards by occasions, too!

On Etsy, you’d have to scroll through 80+ cards to find what you’re looking for 👎

One thing I’m a little annoyed about, thou, is that every time you put something in a cart, you’re directed to your cart and can’t just keep shopping.

If you want to keep browsing, I suggest you click on the top “Shop” button and get back in a collection you want to explore, rather than hitting the “CONTINUE SHOPPING” button at the bottom because this will throw you in “all products” page where you have to wade through 150 products all mixed together!

And may I suggest you create an account during your first visit??

Not only would you save time on your future shopping, I’m rewarding your loyalty by giving 5% off on every single order you place through your customer account!

(**NOTE:: I was hoping there was an easy way to automate this, but since I haven’t found one, I’ll be manually giving you a refund on your first order after you activate an account. Please allow 48 hours for you to see the refund. After that, it should automatically come off.)

And if you have any questions, I’ve got links to important stuff at the bottom of the website. Of course, you can always shoot me an email, too!

Last but not least, with the grand opening of my new shop, you finally get to shop my fall & winter collection!!! Weeee!

You can explore the llama stationery gifts pictured above, new holiday cards, 2019 calendar, and wrapping papers in my shop now.

FYI – if you’ve already bought some of my new products at markets and are sad you didn’t get the discount – wipe your tears, friend, because I don’t charge you sales tax at markets and fairs. Plus you don’t pay for shipping, so you’re still getting a pretty good deal 😉

My old website used to make me cringe – you know, I built it from scratch using very few coding skills I had, which I’m super proud of.

It worked for what I needed in the beginning, but it felt outdated and didn’t really represent who I was and where I wanted my business to go.

My creative business is labor of love. It’s so much work but gives me so much joy in return.

I’m so happy you’re here with me, witnessing and being part of my dream!!

Take a few minutes to explore my new site today! It’s still somewhat a work in progress, so if you notice something not working, email me and I’ll take care of you!

I’m so looking forward to continue helping you find the adorable and thoughtful gifts for yourself and your loved ones ❤️

Thank you, friend!!!

xo

p.s. If you’re wondering what happens to my Etsy shop now – I’m undecided. It will be there for now, but I will be investing all of my time and energy learning and improving my new site from now on.