Category Archives: My Thoughts

Progress, bundles & tea towels πŸ³

Hi friend,

I turned my calendar page to July and felt so seen 😭

Sigh.

You may be having a similar struggle as I am… Facing big problems and holding hard emotions without clear answers or timelines.

There is so much urgency. So many fires to put out, and they seem to be spreading despite your effort.

It’s overwhelming and exhausting.

I totally hear you.

I’m so with you.

That’s why this month’s calendar message resonated with me so deeply.

You’re doing the best you can with what you haveπŸ’œ

What we’re facing today are a direct result of unjust systems that have been created and maintained over hundreds of years.

Let’s be honest that most of the problems will not be solved over night. Or even a year. Maybe not even in my lifetime.

Here is the thing.

We’re not aiming for perfection.

Progress is what matters.

Our individual progress may be small. But we, you and I, have to continue our best effort for as long as it takes.

So by the time we leave the earth, our world is closer to the vision we’re working towards.

Are you with me?

With that being said, I want to share the progress on my anti-racism work since my last email in case you’re looking for some ideas for yourselfπŸ‘‡πŸΌ:

β˜… Updated my Day 1 email for the “100 Brighter Days” email series to incorporate my intention – my messages are applicable not only for our challenges with COVID, but also in our anti-racism work.

β˜… Updated my to state my anti-racism values more clearly.

β˜… Watched – If you haven’t watched it yet, I highly recommend it! It’s free and you’ll get so many helpful ideas to make your biz or workplace more anti-racist.

β˜… Set up monthly donations to , , and . Now a portion of your purchase on my website is supporting these non-profits advocating for the marginalized communities.

β˜… Continue to learn/reflect/take small actions through with Nicole Cardoza.

β˜… Checking in with suppliers/manufacturers re: their anti-racism values. Replacing the ones who support systemic racism (ULINE πŸ‘ŽπŸΌ) with new partners who are doing the work.

Many of these items turned out to be more time-consuming than I expected, so it’s slow going. There will be on-going follow-ups and adjustments as I learn more.

I’ll be happy to share my learning and progress in my future emails and would love to hear what you’re working on, too.

Now – some shop updates for youΒ πŸ’Œ

I created several cards and gift bundles for a virtual popup in May, and it was a lot of fun πŸ₯° so I’ll be bringing them to my webshop!

You can now shop 13 Card & Gift Bundles.

Another exciting news…

I’ll be making more block printed tea towels in the next couple of weeks.

Just in time for summer cooking 🌞

I haven’t block printed on fabrics for a while, so I’m looking forward to the meditative process of print making.

Take care of yourself and keep doing the work πŸ™ŒπŸΌ

xo

On learning, reflecting, and taking actions

A couple of weeks ago, I asked my friend to be my anti-racism accountability buddy so we could support each other in our ongoing (and perhaps a life-long) work.

She said yes, and we met on zoom last Saturday.

We had a heartfelt and honest conversation about our own experience with racism and how we have been allowing white supremacy to thrive in this country.

One of the many inspiring things Jen said resonated with me deeply.

She said instead of telling people what to do or what they should’ve known, she wanted to invite people in and share what she’s doing and learning.

Ah. Yes.

So I decided to share (and will continue to share) my learning and anti-racism work with you – not because I’m better or have all the answers – but if it moves you to take meaningful actions to create a more equitable, safe world for everyone, I’m here for it. For as long as it takes.

I also want you to know I’m not looking for your sympathy or validation – I’m just doing what I should’ve been doing all along. I’m way late for this. Now I’m taking responsibility. No need for a praise.

Ok, so here are some of the things I’ve been reflecting on and doing for the last two weeks (in no particular order):

+ Giving myself space to grieve and honor the collective pain and loss of Black lives, which unfortunately still continues. Empathy fuels me to keep doing the work.

+ Having ongoing conversations about racism with my partner, Dave, who is a straight, cis white man. We’ve both experienced hurt and frustrations trying to navigate these types of conversations before. We’re doing better, and these difficult conversations are bringing us closer.

+ Asking myself how and why I’ve invested in my proximity to whiteness. Examining internalized (that is so rampant in Japan and many other Asian countries) and how it’s shaped my self-worth. How am I holding onto “lighter the better” belief for myself? (e.g. wearing long sleeves on a sunny day – am I chilly or am I trying not to get darker? Am I lightening my skin color beyond my natural skin tone when I edit photos?) And since I’m not considered “dark” in the US and am benefiting from a white supremacist system, is calling out anti-blackness threatening my sense of security (however false that may be)?

+ Digging deeper in my guiding values: self-care, self-love, and self-acceptance. I know my work is helpful and these messages are important for everybody – but also recognizing that if you (and people who look like you) are facing systemic dehumanization and violence every day, these concepts are not as accessible. And how are they inspiring others to make a difference (or not)? I’m working to better clarify my values and intentions for myself and Honeyberry Studios and integrate it into my designs and messaging.

+ Majority of my fans are white, straight, cis-gendered women. While I appreciate and care about every single customer equally, I also have to wonder why it is. Who am I not serving and why? Whose opinions am I valuing more than others? How is my intention showing up (or not showing up) in my work and my messaging?

+ I’ve avoided bringing up certain issues that are important to me, like racism, fatphobia, and LGBTQ liberation, with you because I didn’t know where you stood and didn’t want to make you feel uncomfortable. I realize now that my passivity has caused a lot of harm. I’m making a commitment to place my integrity over comfort (and profit) and will share more often how these issues are part of my inspiration moving forward.

+ Attending webinars (mostly for Asian American/ Pacific Islander allies) and watch to tweak my biz practice to align with my anti-racism value.

+ Signed up and became a Patreon at Email. Reading, learning, and taking at least one suggested action every day.

+ More readings. I’ve found these helpful:

by Kat Vellos

by Imani Barbarin

by Melissa Jeltsen

+ Continuing to create art and content for my “100 Brighter Days” email series. To be completely honest, it’s been really hard to engage in anything that’s not directly “fixing” the world 😞 I know beauty and joy are important and necessary. And art is the vehicle through which I could deliver my messages most effectively. I’m working to find my center again and get re-engaged with my work with a renewed purpose.

+ Practicing compassion, healing from traumas, and taking care of myself so I can continue to show up as an effective ally for as long as the work is needed. This is not a sprint – it’s a marathon!

+ Giving financially to various BIPOC orgs and individuals when I can.

As you can see, I don’t have a well-organized to-do list.

I believe each of our journey is unique and we’re on a different place on our journey.

It doesn’t have to be perfect. We make mistakes and learn from them.

I’m making a point of doing somethingΒ every day and not “moving on” when the news media stops covering protests and Black Lives Matter movement.

Be brave, my friend.

If you’re a white ally – I kindly ask you to share your struggles, disagreements, and confusions in your anti-racism work with your white friends (and/or BIPOC friends/ paid-professionals who have consented to help you.)

It’s draining for me and many people of color I know to manage a white person’s emotions around racism and anti-racism work, no matter who close we are. It’s always been hard, and I’m sorry I’ve never asked you not to do it. Now you know.

Stay well and strong πŸ’œ

xo

ps. My emails (except for “100 Brighter Days”) may be somewhat irregular for a while and I may not respond to all of your messages (that are not customer inquiries) to give myself extra space. Please know my shop is always open, and your orders are shipping out daily if you need any for Pride or .Β I appreciate your continuing support!

When you can’t find your happy place…

I wasn’t planning to start my post this way.

But my heart is feeling heavy this morning.

There is so much loss and suffering in this world.

No matter how blue the sky is and the sun is shining brightly,

I can’t always find my happy place.

I’m giving myself space to grieve and just be.

That’s the kindest thing you can do for yourself sometimes.

Sigh.

I’m also feeling grateful this morning.

I got a beautiful thank you card in the mail from a friend this morning, and she wrote a heartwarming message that lifted my spirits.

An incredibly touching email came in from one of my fans yesterday letting me know how much joy my daily email has brought to her grandma who has just passed away.

I shared how I was feeling during the Board meeting last night and woke up to several reassuring messages from my team in my inbox.

They’re all helping.

Slowly. But surely.

When I feel disconneted from the world and feel like I have a piece missing, I turn to art.

It may not solve all the world’s problems overnight, but I believe in the power of art.

It heals.

It brings us together.

It helps me express my love for humanity in a way that I can’t in words.

Maybe it was meant to be that I scheduled to launch for preorder last week.

I originally created Β with Pride month celebration in mind πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

Due to the pandemic, many of the Pride events are cancelled or going virtual.

So I wanted to create a way to celebrate it with your loved ones from afar.

I believe all suffering begins with us not embracing ourselves fully and lovingly.

Including our shiny and messy parts.

We just want to be loved and be happy.

Be seen and heard.

For who we are.

That’s all.

I’ll keep creating as long as it makes my heart happy.

It’s my way of saying “I love you.”

To myself and to the world.

Thank you for being the reason why I do what I do.

xo

Aries in your life? β™ˆοΈ

Hey friend,

I just found out that April is National Card & Letter Writing Month!

I’ve been more intentional about sending my loved ones snail mails since we started physical distancing a few weeks ago.

(Right? It started a few weeks ago…? Honestly, I don’t remember any more πŸ˜… It feels like forever ago.)

There was a thank you card we sent to a relative who gifted us some money πŸ™πŸΌ

A get well card for a friend who just had a surgery.

And a few others just to say hello πŸ‘‹πŸΌ

It’s simply more joyful to find a handwritten card from a friend in the mailbox than bills and junk mail, you know?

This week, I’ve made a list of friends who have their birthday in April – and all of them are Aries – including my best friend from 3rd grade ❀️ Aw.

In , I show you which cards I selected for my friends and why:

πŸ’—πŸ’—πŸ’—

If you’re feeling a little shy about reaching out to someone in writing, birthdays are an easy opportunity to get your card writing habits started πŸ€“

Don’t let the blank page scare you, either.

A short and sweet message, like, “Happy birthday. I’m thinking of you.” will go a long way.

Got your birthday list?

Good!

You can to shop these adorable birthday cards😽

Give your loved ones a reason to smile on their special day!

xo

ps. Spring sale is still on! Get 15% off your entire with a promo code “SPRING15”Β You can use this code as many times as you want πŸ’—

It’s all about self-love β€οΈπŸŒˆ

Hi friend,

First off, I’m so happy to know that my 60 Brighter Days emails have been resonating with so many of you!

Thanks for reading/sharing/responding with your kind words. It’s most definitely the highlight of my day 🌞

Second, thank you so much for continuing to support my web shop!!

I feel so loved πŸ₯°

It gives me joy to know my cheerful, uplifting art is making you and your loved one’s day a little brighter.

Today I wanted to share this short video where I share my message about self-love.

You know that’s my jam, right?

I also share a couple of recent reviews on my Self-Love Postcard set in the vid.

Here is one from Hannah:

SOB 😭 Thank YOU, Hannah.

(I read all of my reviews, and they instantly lift up my spirits. So keep them coming if you’ve purchased something from me!)

Yes, I’m trying to cope with the anxiety of our rapidly changing world every day, but I’m also fired up to share my message of self-care and self-love right now πŸ”₯

Oh and one more thing – I’ve added a gift message section in my cart (it’s free!).

If you’re directly shipping self-love filled gifts to your loved ones, be sure to leave a message there.

I’ll then write it on one of these sweet block printed cards and include it in your package.

What a sweet way to add an extra thoughtful touch to your gift πŸ₯°

Hope you’ll continue to take care of yourself and stay well.

Thinking of you,

xo

ps. Don’t forget, 15% off on everything (including clearance!) in my online shop.Β Use code: SPRING15 when you check out. You can use the code as many times as you want 😽

Hanging in there?

Hi friend,

Hope you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy πŸ™πŸΌ

Dave and I are staying home as much as we can, and thankfully we’re healthy so far.

For that, I’m most grateful.

You know what else I’m grateful for??

Your are causing me major gratitude overload!! I’ve been enjoying packaging up each and every order for you.

Seriously, you’re the BEST.

Keep them coming because your 15% off code “SPRING15” is still good.

(and you can use it more than once!)

As I said last week, I’m trying to offer more video contents because it makes me feel closer to you.

I’ve been feeling isolated as I practice social distancing – not only are my shows being cancelled, my pottery class, gym, and get-togethers with friends are cancelled as well πŸ˜”

(Not to mention my solo vacay to Sedona. Yup I cancelled it. Sad, but necessary 😭)

Yes, it is a temporary measure. And perhaps the best thing we can do right now to give ourselves a fighting chance.

So I’ve been recording short messages as I pack up your orders in the morning and sharing them on .

, I talk about why I share my story on the back of each cardπŸ‘€

At shows and markets, I’m able to chat more easily with my customers and share my story, but I don’t always get to, or you wouldn’t necessarily share that with the person you’re writing to.

So I’m putting it right there – whoever receives your lovely note will know that you’ve carefully selected a card that was created by a real person with real hopes and dreams✨

You wouldn’t get that from mass-produced greeting cards from a drug store… Just sayin.

And here is

I share with you what my customers have been ordering, and which ones are my favorite!

It lifts me up to know that you’re actively reaching out to your loved ones in this time of uncertainty.

And being part of your love mail gives me so much joy ❀️

When I’m feeling anxious and off-centered, it helps to do something. Especially, helping others shifts focus off of my own problems and worries.

So… I’ve started “60 Brighter Days” email series!! Sign up for my newsletter if you haven’t already, and you’ll receive a happy, encouraging email from me every day for 60 days.

Ok, friend, stay strong. We’ll get through this together.

Sending you love,

xo

This is my Plan B

I wanted to give you a heads up about a couple of things today.

As you know, a special flu is going around in Seattle and lots of other places.

(I know technically it’s not a flu…but an article I read about how to reduce anxiety recommended you call it something else, like “the flu,” so that’s what I’m doing πŸ˜€)

To protect the public health and safety, lots of events are getting cancelled.

For me, that means my main source of income, shows and markets, is either getting cancelled or not many people are gonna turn up to shop in person for the foreseeable future.

For example, my next market, UPS Flea Market on 3/21, has been cancelled 😭 Sorry if you were planning on going. I’m very disappointed, too.

And I don’t have a show scheduled until May.

So… I’m engaging my Plan B✌🏼

I’m focusing my energy on growing for a while, and to make it more enjoyable for you, I’ve created a promo for you.

Yup, you know I don’t normally do random sales, but the time requires a bit of a flexibility – so you can enjoy 15% off on your entire order when you !

Just enter “SPRING15” at checkout 😘

I haven’t decided how long the promo will go on, but at least till the end of the month. I’ll let you know when it’s about to end.

You can use this code as many times as you’d like, too. Feel free to share with friends and family.

(NOTE: I will not be able to apply the promo retroactively as Shopify, my online platform, charges fees based on the original sales amount πŸ˜” so don’t forget to enter it when you shop.)

Another thing I’m doing – because I don’t get to see you in person for a while – is for you!

It’s mostly me sharing quick updates and doing mini “informacials” if you will πŸ˜‚ but if you’d like to see me awkwardly talk to my phone camera, be sure to watch them πŸ’•πŸ‘‡πŸΌ

Thanks friend!!

Stay well,

xo

ps. Take advantage of 15% off online order with a special code “SPRING15”

pps. If you’ve come to my shows/markets, you know I offer special deals just for the market customers. I’ll of course continue to offer them when/if I do markets this season and beyond. Just so you know πŸ˜‰

10 things you may not know about me πŸ‘€

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 πŸ˜†

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)Β 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 πŸ™‹πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

3)Β 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)Β I have and Β personality traits. I consider myself an idealist who can get a lot done πŸ™ŒπŸΌ

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 β˜•οΈ

6)Β 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 πŸ’•

7)Β When I turn 50, I want to live in Paris for a month πŸ‡«πŸ‡· I want to take French lessons and make art every day πŸ‘©πŸ»β€πŸŽ¨ I’ve been putting $20 into my Paris dream account every week since I turned 41 last year.

8)Β 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 πŸ’

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

9)Β 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)Β 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 πŸ˜… 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 πŸ‘‹πŸΌ

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 πŸ˜†

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? πŸ€” 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 πŸ’•

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 πŸ™ŒπŸΌ

Goal 2: Stay under budget

I didn’t achieve this goal 100% πŸ’Έ

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 πŸ’― 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 πŸ˜† 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.

Hi from NYC πŸ‘‹πŸΌ

Just wanted to send you a quick note from NYC!!

As I write this email, I’m sitting in my beautiful booth at National Stationery Show, reflecting on the last, looooong, 4 days πŸ€ͺ

I don’t have many words to describe the experience yet, but it’s been really amazing to be here.

I’ve got new orders, met many new friends, vendors and retailers alike, which is always my favorite part of doing a show ✨

I’ll write a more in-depth reflection on my experience here later – when I have time (and energy) to think and organize my thoughts after I get home 😘

Hope your week is going well!

Talk soon,

xo

Yuko