Category Archives: Growth & Development

10 things you may not know about me 👀

I’ve been enjoying some of my friends’ challenge posts on social media.

I especially liked reading their stories – although I’m not participating in the daily challenge, I thought it would be fun to share with you some facts about me you may not know 😆

Here are 10 things you may not know about me:

1) I have an older brother who lives in Japan, and he runs near my parents’ house.

He started it right after I quit my job to focus on my biz – it’s been cool to see his business thrive as well.

2) I was way into theater in my tween/teen years. I wrote, produced, and performed in several plays in middle and high school.

I loved getting into characters, hanging out with my theater friends (whom I see every time I go home), creating stories, and the thrill of acting in front of a live audience.

I don’t like being put on a spot, but give me a script, background story, and time to practice, I’m all about it 🙋🏻‍♀️

3) I’m a . In a nutshell, it means you’re wired to feel things deeply, and you may be easily overwhelmed by external (or internal) stimulations.

I consider my sensitivity to be a gift that helps me empathize with others and connect deeply with the beauty that surrounds me.

4) I’ve been meditating almost daily for the past 4 years. I usually meditate right after I wake up. I love starting my day with a quiet grounding practice.

It prepares me to face the world that’s so noisy and cluttered.

5) I have and  personality traits. I consider myself an idealist who can get a lot done 🙌🏼

Having structure and routine is pretty important for me to thrive, and I’m not very flexible/spontaneous. So if you ask me to tea the day before (or really, less than 2 weeks notice is “short notice” for me 😬), chances are I’ll say no ☕️

6) I struggled with (= an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating) about 4 years ago. Thoughts on what to eat and not eat were taking over my life.

I was lucky to have found and in my recovery.

I’m a much happier/relaxed eater now and rarely slip into my old thinking any more. And when I do, I’m much more compassionate with myself 💕

7) When I turn 50, I want to live in Paris for a month 🇫🇷 I want to take French lessons and make art every day 👩🏻‍🎨 I’ve been putting $20 into my Paris dream account every week since I turned 41 last year.

8) I’m mostly a self-taught artist. I’d worked in a non-profit domestic violence organization for 14+ years before I became a full-time artist.

I studied graphic design while I was soul-searching about what I wanted to do with my life but realized I loved illustration much more than design after three years in the program 🐒

I don’t regret going through the program – I use the skills I learned every day in my business!

9) I majored in Women Studies (now Gender & Sexuality Studies) in college. I happened to take Gender, Race, and Class course one quarter without knowing a lot about it and got immediately hooked. It opened my eyes to the reality of the world and validated my life experience big time.

Yes, I’m a feminist.

10) I joined the Board of Directors at , an amazing DV org serving LGBTQ community, last June. It’s been quite a learning curve to get back in the non-profit leadership work 😅 but I’m honored to be part of it!

BONUS: My sweetie Dave and I met 14 years ago on Craigslist personnel (which no longer exits.)

We had a semi-long distance relationship (he: Orcas Island, me: Seattle. About 3 hour commute one way) for 5 years before he moved to Seattle to be with me ❤️

I can go on and on with tidbits about me but this is it for now. Maybe I’ll continue next year 👋🏼

Hope you enjoyed my stories 😊

What are things that most people don’t know about you?

xo

NY Show Recap

As promised, I wanted to share my National Stationery Show (NSS) recap and reflection with you today.

To be honest, I’ve been dreading it a little bit – sort of hoping you’d forgotten I was gonna write this, but enough people have been asking about how the show went, so I’m showing up in my full vulnerability 😆

I feel vulnerable sharing real numbers with you, but I wanted to keep it real… and if you’re a maker/designer yourself and thought about exhibiting there, I thought it would be helpful for you.

So, here are some of my goals and how they went.

Goal 1: Get at least 1 order a day

This was my low goal… I was trying to keep my expectations low because I’d never done the show before and didn’t want to be disappointed.

Well, good thing I had low expectations because I barely made this goal. Total of 4 new orders and 2 reorders.

Does that seem like a low number to you? 🤔 It did to me.

It felt pretty slow from my perspective, and honestly I was surprised I didn’t see more buyers. When I walked around, I saw some areas were bustling with people, but I was in no way overwhelmed at any point during the show.

Needless to say, I was a little disappointed.

But the quality of the orders I received was high – including , and , so that was really cool ✨

And it was really nice to meet some of my existing cusomers in real life 💕

As with any trade shows, often the reward comes after the show, and building relationships is the name of the game.

I’m grateful to have met lovely buyers and fellow exhibitors from all over the country and hope to nurture a long-lasting relationship with many of them.

Update: I’ve received two extra orders so far from the connections I made at the show. Yay 🙌🏼

Goal 2: Stay under budget

I didn’t achieve this goal 100% 💸

My budget was $10K – including booth fee ($2800), booth build out ($3500 – including 3 walls, two colors, graphics, lighting, electricity, carpeting, labor), flight, lodging, food (for me and Dave) printing marketing collaterals, shipping materials, transportations, booth furniture etc. etc.

I haven’t done the actual numbers yet, but I probably went over by 10% more or less.

I’m glad to have hired someone to build the booth for me (it’s with if you’re interested. They’re great.) and it was great to have Dave with me to help, but next time, I probably won’t bring him 😬 I may still have the company take care of my booth, assuming it’ll be cheaper now that they have my materials…

It took me a year to save up for the show, and as I want to do more than one trade show a year, I’d need to be more mindful about the cost in the future.

Goal 3: Stay healthy

Well, let’s say, I managed to stay healthy during the show! 😹 I kept on top of washing my hands and getting a good night sleep, so at least I’m happy that we didn’t get sick while we were there.

Goal 4: Enjoy NYC

I’d give 💯 on this one.

Dave and I enjoyed walking around the neighborhood, went to American Natural History Museum and the MET, ate good food every day (, , were some of our favorites) and had a really good time there!

good coffee and ambience at Easy Victor Cafe

Thoughts & Questions:

Will I do this again?

Maybe. It depends on how things shake out in the next several months. The show itself was really awesome – so huge and everyone’s booth was so so good. I consider this the Super Bowl of stationery trade show 😆 I’m curious to try in a different spot or different season maybe. It remains to be seen.

Was it worth it?

Absolutely. I’ll change some things in the future (keep under budget, reach out to any potential buyers beforehand etc.) but I have no regrets about trying. I got lots of nice compliments from buyers and exhibitors alike, which always boosts my confidence.

It’s been a couple of weeks since the show – I’ve had enough time to throw myself a pity party and processed all the things, so I’m feeling pretty good in general. (And germ free) No need to worry. Onward and upward.

Hope you enjoyed my recap!

Talk soon,

xo

ps. I’ll be at next Wed – Sun! Come say hello at booth 967 if you’re around.

Off to NY! ✈️

Your girl is all grown up and going to the Big City!🍎

I set two goals at the beginning of 2019 – one was , and the other, scary goal was to register for (NSS), which is the biggest stationery trade show in the U.S. 😱

I’m proud to say I was able to accomplish both goals 💪🏼 and this week I’m flying to NY to exhibit at NSS!

Maybe you do this, too, but I tend to minimize my accomplishments.

When I reach a goal or a milestone, I think to myself, “Anyone can do that. It wasn’t a big deal. I was lucky. I haven’t really done anything yet.”

But THIS one was hard to ignore.

Sure, I do have that little voice that tells me that you’re not really there yet. Things can go wrong. Who knows, you may come home with nothing to show for.

It was all a big waste of time and money. Who do you think YOU are? You don’t belong on the big stage.

Maybe so.

But, I’m patting myself on the back for doing it!

Just being able to save up for the show is in and of itself a huge accomplishment for me. And I know I’ll learn a ton from this experience.

If you’d asked me two years ago if I’d even considered going to the show, I’d had a nervous laugh and given you a vague “no” answer.

Well, I still have a nervous laugh 😬 but I’m going anyhow.

See, that’s the thing. If my business journey has taught me anything, it’s that you don’t have to know everything to start something new.

You are good enough to start now.

You’re capable of much more than you think. You’ve survived all of your worst case scenarios thus far. You’re resilient. You’re resourceful. Take one step at a time!!!

So I take my own advice to heart today. Courage over perfection. I’m taking lots of deep breathes as I tackle my scary goal this week!

Follow me on or if you haven’t already – I’ll be posting pics from my NY trip there!

Thank you for your support and encouragement always. It’s YOU who give me the courage to keep going for my dreams.

xo

ps. My VIP promo ends on Friday 1/31! Be sure to sign up for my email to get the code 💕

Happy 4th Freedom Anniversary 🥳

I celebrated my 4th “freedom anniversary” a.k.a. the day I quit my job to work on Honeyberry Studios full-time on July 31st🎉

(If you’re interested in knowing more about my transitioning process, you can read this blog post and many other entries from 2015.)

A few days after I quit, I went on a solo retreat to set intentions for my artist/business journey.

and here is the manifesto I created on my retreat. most of it still rings true except for creating every day and the health-obsessed bit 😀

The past 4 years have been a marathon self-development therapy session, I tell you.

I’ve learned so much about myself and am so proud of the accomplishments I’ve made so far.

I’ve been reflecting on some of the things I’ve learned and wanted to share them with you today ✨

First thing that’s come up is this:

You don’t have to be the best artist. But you need to be fiercely, unapologetically, you.

I used to feel insecure about my art. I even felt a little cringy calling myself an artist. I’m mostly self-taught, and my technical skills aren’t that advanced. I thought it was cute and child-like but not “real” art.

I thought art should be more, shall I say, deep? whatever that means…🤷🏻‍♀️

When I saw the work of other successful artists I admire, I’d think “oh, I wish my art looked more like that. It is so _______ (sophisticated, elegant, cool, hip etc. <- things that my art is not)”

Over the last several years, I’ve slowly learned that you don’t have to be the most technically advanced artist to be successful, but it needs to have your distinct voice.

I’ve gotten to internalize this as I started selling more at shows and markets last year and kept witnessing my customers’ happy reactions in person.

People’s face light up as they walk by my booth. I can see them mouthing to their friend “cuuute.” I hear “awwwwww” and “so adorable” every 5 minutes.

It’s reinforced to me that yes, cutenss is valuable, and it makes people extremely happy.

And it’s ok if that’s the only thing my art offers.

I may be oversimplifying it, but you get what I’m saying? I mean people pay a lot of money for therapy, drugs, and experiences to be happy, no? 😀

Sometimes I make something and say to myself “wait, is this too cute? Should I tone it down?”

like when I made this adorable baby card…😍

Fortunately, I can snap out of the silliness of the situation pretty quickly now. The answer is, OF COURSE NOT.

It turns out so many people love cute things. I know you do! Tone it down?? I’d be doing a disservice to you and humanity.

I want to give you what you came here for. Adorable, happy art that makes you smile.

The more joy I express through my work, the happier I get doing what I do.

And that brings more joy to you, and that gives me the fuel to keep going, and it’s a never-ending love fest ❤️

You may have been in my community since well before I quit my job 4 years ago. Or you may have just found me last week.

I still feel like a baby in my biz journey and without you, there is no Honeyberry Studios, so yeah, you’re awesome. Just wanted to make sure you knew that.

Ok, I had more reflections I wanted to share today, but this is getting a bit too long 😀 so I’ll parse it out later.

Have a cuteness filled day!

xo

ps. my mom is coming to visit me next week 🥰 and we’re going to Yellowstone 🌲🦌⛰🐐 our first time!! If you need anything from my shop, come to Fremont Sunday Market today 10-4, or place your order online before Monday and I’ll ship them out before we head out!

Life lessons my grandma taught me

I’m a glass-half-empty kinda gal. Does that surprise you? Or you knew that already?

I still haven’t figured out if it’s nature or nurture. It’s probably a little bit of both.

I suspect my grandparents on my dad’s side played a big role in instilling pesimistic tendencies in me at a young age.

My dad was the eldest son, so we lived with his parents, which I loved as a kid. My grandma was my main caretaker until I was about 4 since both my parents worked outside of home.

The thing about my grandparents was, especially my grandma, they didn’t have a lot of boudaries or filters 😬 They’d often criticize our neighbors or family members openly. They never ran out of things to complain about and lamented about life in general.

I don’t blame them. Life did deal them bad hands especially for my grandma.

She went through WWII as a terrified and hungry teenager, had an arranged marriage to my grandpa when she was 18, forcing her to move away from her family in the city to a rural area where she was expected to do physical farming work while raising 3 boys – she desparately wanted a girl and told me how dissapointed she was when my dad and uncles were born 😅 She also told me she never loved grandpa. Like, all the time.

Yikes.

But you can understand why she was so bitter about life, no?

One of my earliest memories of her is me feeling an intense sadness for her when she was telling me how she’d saved up little money she had as a teenager to buy this delicious looking bread that she’d been ogling from outside of the bakery – and when she finally saved up enough money to buy the bread, it turned out so nasty tasting and she was extremely disappointed.

So, so sad.

Most of my adult life, I’ve been working to reset my mind to a default that says life isn’t full of sadness and suffering.

Staying positive takes me a lot of practice and intentionality.

I started meditating in 2013, and it’s helped tremendously with staying centered when things get hard.

Another thing that helps me with my positive mindset is my daily journaling. I jot down three things I’m grateful for in my journal before I go to bed.

It only takes me a minute, but I love having the time to reflect on the day and focus on the good things that happened before going to sleep.

I’ve been journaling for almost two years now, and here are some of my most common entries:

– laughing with Dave

– walks in sunshine

– going to bed

– good show & meeting awesome people

I rarely have big, over-the-top things to be grateful for. It’s the small, seemingly unimportant things that make me realize how good my life is.

And I’m grateful for my grandma for teaching me that – the little things I take for granted could be taken away at any moment. I’m lucky to have choices that she’d never dreamed of having.

Do you have a grounding practice or ritual? Are you a glass-half-full or empty kinda person?

Reply to this email and tell me. I genuinely enjoy hearing from you 🥰

xo

ps. I’m discontinuing my notebooksin my shop, and they’re on good-bye discount now. Grab them while supplies last📚

Imposter Syndrome & saying yes to something that scares you

Happy Pride!🌈

You may have seen my announcement on social media that I’ve recently joined the Board of Directors at the NW Network of Bi, Trans, Lesbian & Gay Survivors of Abuse.

I’d worked for another local DV org for 14 and a half years before making a transition to working in Honeyberry Studios full-time and have always been a big fan of the Network.

So I was honored and surprised when I got an email from my friend, Eli, who is the Board President at the organization a few weeks ago.

In his email, he said he thought I’d be a great candidate for the position and asked if I’d be interested in joining the team.

I was very excited for the prospect of joining the Board but hesitated to say yes at first because I didn’t feel qualified.

When I pictured “Board of Directors,” I imagined a group of people who are white, older (than me), upper-middle class, and have a corporate job or a “real” business.

(You know, not a “handmade” kind of business…)

I didn’t fit the profile at all 🤷🏻‍♀️

Big imposter syndrome kicked in, and I was swallowed in a whirlpool of “what ifs” and worst-case scenarios.

What if I suck at the job? What if I couldn’t deliver what they expected from me? What if I make a bad decision or give terrible advice? What if it’s more time-consuming and stressful than I think?

I was afraid they’d find me out.

They’d be disappointed and it’d be super awkward. And then they’d wish they’d never asked me to join the team, and now they have to have a meeting to make a plan to gently exit me from the Board and never speak about it ever again.

I know, my imagination runs WILDsometimes – it’s good for my creative work, but not so good for other situations 😛😭

Eli and I had a few back-and-forth about the logistics and my concerns – he patiently reassured me that I had a combination of qualities they were looking for.

While I still felt an imposter-syndrome hangover, I wrote this letter of intent.

That’s when I knew I really, really wanted to do this.

So I was very happy when I got a call from Eli several days later telling me that I was officially IN! 🥳

Interesting, though, that my imposter syndrome got even worse when I shared the news on social media.

A lot of people sent me kind, encouraging messages and congratulated me. It was wonderful and overwhelming at the same time.

Overwhelming because a lof of the comments were about me as a person, like “you’re great” or “you’re wonderful” and I didn’t feel I deserved it.

I was telling Dave how these comments were making me uneasy because I hadn’t actually done anything yet.

A little voice inside me was saying, “Yuko, anyone can join the Board. But what are you going to accomplish? You’ve been away from the work for so long. Do you remember half of the things you said on your resume?”

Yeah, right. People should really hold off on congratulating me until I do something awesome.

Maybe I shoud’ve kept it a secret.

And then Dave said, “You know you’re gonna do great work, right?”

Right.

Sometimes when my brain tells me I can’t do something, I listen to the people I trust, who say “yes you can.”

from my next collection 💙

If I trust their judgement, and they say they believe in me, then I should believe in myself, too, you know?

It’s so meta, but I think you get it.

And that’s how I’ve gotten over the most recent bout of self-doubt.

Being uncomfortable with something new and unknown is healthy.

I know I’ll continue to have moments of insecurities throughout my life – after all, I’m a human being with lots of feelings (LOTS) – but I’ll also continue to learn and practice skills and tools to manage them more effectively so I can get back to being my whole self more quickly.

Why am I telling you all this?

Well, because I wanted you to know it’s OK if you feel this way too.

when I say I make art that tells me what I need to hear, I mean it 🌵

You’re not a robot🤖

Sometimes we stumble and get stuck. There is no shame in that, my friend.

I know you can, too.

xo

ps. my friend Sarah at Saltstone Ceramics is having Queer and Dear show throughout this month and July! Go enjoy the work of amazing queer artists in person or online 🥰

It was meant to be

Hi friend,

Do you remember what I said my two goals were this year??

One of them was to hire help so I can serve more customers in person.

(And the other was National Stationery Show 2020. More on that later this year.)

Well, I’m checking that one off my list! ✅

Tada! Meet C.C., my new star helper! 🌟🌟🌟

I met C.C. last April and knew immediately I wanted to be her friend.

She’s a super talented knitter/knitwear designer who has published 3 knitting books and numerous knitting patterns. And she’s been podcasting with her daughter, Dami, for 7 years 👯‍♀️

C.C. has also been a big fan of Honeyberry Studios, so when she told me she was interested in helping out, I did a happy dance!

Last Saturday, she came to learn the ins and outs of running a booth at a craft fair. It became apparent in the first 5 minutes that she was a natural.

C.C. is so easy to talk to. She’s so friendly and helpful to everyone who walks into our booth, you just wanna chat with her and hang out!

(And, she’s obsessed with kitties 🐈 maybe a little bit more than I am 😺 if that’s even possible…)

This summer, I have a pretty full show schedule, and C.C. will be at a few of them to help you out 🌈

Please introduce yourself to her and make friends with C.C. when you see her at shows and markets!

(or at grocery stores, you won’t miss her bright pink hair 👩🏻‍🎤)

Yay! I’m so excited 🥰

xo

ps. you can learn more about each event and see most up-to-date calendar on my website!

I’m a pessimist.

When I’m at craft fairs, my customers ask me what inspires my art.

I tell them I’m not a naturally positive person so I need a reminder to be happy.

So I make art that’s uplifting and positive.

Often people respond with “me, too!” 🙋🏻‍♀️ or “yeah, it’s so important, especially now.”

I make happy art because it brightens my day and I want to share the joy with you.

Here are some of the messages I think of on a daily basis. If you’re needing a little boost today, soak it in 😘

I have this hanging on my living room wall.

I often take so much for granted – my husband, health, friends, etc.

When I’m in a funk, this message is a great reminder that I still have a lot of things to be grateful for.

I’ve got this in a sticker form and have it on my laptop where I see it every day 🌈

It’s easy for me to feel I’m not _____ (pretty, talented, thin, productive, focused, loving, good wife – you name it, I got it.) enough especially when I compare myself to others (more on that next.)

It’s nice to see this reminder and tell myself that I’m enough the way I am today.

And THIS. This also hangs in our living room.

I use social media, like Facebook and Instagram, every day for my business. I love how easy it is to connect with my friends and community there.

At the same time, it’s made it so much easier to compare myself to other people on the internet.

These are the thoughts I have often:

“Woo, look at her beautiful studio space! My work space is a mess, and I can never show it to anybody.”

“Her shop has so many sales! I wonder if I’d ever be so successful.”

“Wow, she has so many followers and likes on Instagram. Why don’t I have more?”

I still have these thoughts, but this message grounds me.

I remind myself that there are lots of people who have fewer followers or “likes” (or not on social media at all!) and have a very successful business.

(Or HAPPY.)

And everyone’s journey is different. I’m the only person who can know 100% of what’s going on in my life and business. What works for someone else may totally be a wrong choice for me.

It helps me to find peace wherever I am in life.

And if you’re having similar struggles, I hope it helps you, too 😊

xo

Not your typical birthday post 🎂

I turned 41 on Thursday!

I thought about doing one of those “41 things I’ve learned in my life” post – and I’m sure I’ve learned many things – but I just can’t remember 41 of them 😂 Maybe I’ll do that when I turn 50. But then I’d have to come up with 50 things. I better start making a list now.

When I was in my 20s, 40 sounded SO OLD.

40 seemed so grown-up. I’d thought I’d have a house, teenage kids (I was convinced I’d have twin boys) and have more grey hair by the time I’m in my 40s.

And I’d be wise. Like nothing would faze me.

(btw, I thought it was “phase me” up until now. I looked it up to be sure and learned it was actually “faze” – that’s my wisdom for ya 🤣)

Instead, we live in an apartment, no children, running our own businesses, and maybe a few grey strands.

It’s not better or worse – It just means I’ve made different life choices than my younger-self had thought.

(Except for the grey hair. That’s mostly genetics 👵🏻)

I still don’t know the answers to many things. And I get scared when I go out of my comfort zone.

For example, I wanna hire help this year so Honeyberry Studios can be at multiple shows and markets during the summer and holiday season. Hiring someone? Scary.

How about this? I’m aiming to be an exhibitor at National Stationery Show (that’s one of the biggest industry trade shows in the US) in NYC in February, 2020. BIG. SCARY. GOAL 😱

(Also a very expensive goal 💸)

Would I have done this in my 20s? I could’ve. But I wouldn’t have thought I could.

The most important lesson my life has taught me thus far is this: you can achieve many things, even those big scary things you thought were impossible. You’re much more capable than you think – even if you don’t think you’re ready for it.

Your journey may not be pretty. In fact, it will be messy and scary every step of the way.

Even if you didn’t get the result you hoped for, you’re still learning something. Every time you come out of a failure, you’re still alive and standing.

Now put that on “repeat” and whenever you face a new challenge, you’ll feel less scared. Or you’ll know that you’ll be OK even if this thing fails.

I knew that intellectually when I was younger – but now I really know that because I’ve experienced it.

For that, I’m extremely grateful 🙏🏼

In honor of my birthday, I wanted to share a preview of my new birthday card design that’s coming out later next week!

The floral design was inspired by our trip to Milwaukee Public Museum over the Christmas – their European Village exhibit is my favorite, and I fell hard in love with their Polish house – everything is covered with beautiful floral designs and vibrant colors.

Yes please!

We’re going up the mountain over the Snoqualmie pass to play in the show and then going out to dinner with a couple of friends to one of my fave restaurants, Cafe Flora.

Here is to another year full of adventures.

xo

How I became a full-time artist

If you’d told me 10 years ago that I would become a full-time artist, I wouldn’t have believed you.

I would’ve thought you were out of your mind and averted your gaze while laughing uncomfortably.

I don’t have an art degree. I make cute drawings. That’s not “art.” Being a successful working artist is an option available only to a selected few.

Or so I thought.

My story of making a transition from working at a non-profit org (that’s totally non-art-related) to becoming a full-time artist fascinates many people.

If you’d ever wondered how it all unfolded and what I’ve learned in the beginning, you’re in luck!

I recently got interviewed by a fellow artist, Eileen McKenna, for her blog, and shared my origin story.

(Including my celebrity encounter, my #1 advice for creatives wanting to go full-time, and lessons I’ve learned.)

Here is how the interview starts:

What inspired you to do your “Happiness is” project?
At the time (spring of 2014), I was toying with the idea of becoming a working artist. And then I thought, if I wanted to be a working artist, I should be making art every day and enjoy the process. So that’s why I decided to start my 365 day daily art project. I’d also learned about Lisa Congdon (one of my heroes) and her daily art projects and was deeply inspired by it. I wanted to get over my fear of putting myself out there, too. It was sort of a shock therapy where I’d post my drawing (and not always perfect) every day, and eventually I cringed less about sharing my work on the internet.

As far as the topic goes, I wanted it to be something that’s relatively easy. I first thought about making art about food I eat every day, like a food journal, but knew I’d eat the same thing over and over 😀 So then I thought of happiness and what makes me happy every day. I’m not naturally a glass-half-full kind of a person…

Continue reading on Eileen’s blog.

Hope you enjoy!

xo