It’s been over 2 years since our last batch of interns completed their internships at KoLe. So many things have happened but one good thing is that we still all try to keep in touch with one another. Besides Ly-san’s latest trip to Japan, Linh-san keeps us posted from time to time.
What curators do?
KoLe curators are in charge of finding items based on our philosophy. Also the goods they believe in the products or the producers/artists are worth introducing to the world.
Not only they do curating products, they also collect stories from the producers, artists and showrooms to tell them to you. You can not be a KoLe curator unless you are passionate about products, artists / producers and showrooms.
There is a curator called Head Curator. Head Curator is in charge of what we list on our product catalog, exporting and finding retail partners who agree to be our showrooms, on top of curators’ work.
If you have any questions about KoLe service, ask KoLe curator.
It will make your KoLe experience 10 times better, if you know these.
On this page, you can view almost everything what KoLe is about. We truly appreciate if you could take time to read them. Because, we believe if you know it, it will make your KoLe experience so much better.
Curation philosophy : These are what is in Curators’ mind when we search for the products and why this service started.
Curation Criteria : Based on our philosophy, we have a few criteria when we decide if products are for us.
Why curate products from small producers: This might puzzle some of you. But we try to explain.
We work with producers of traditional crafts with the eyes of “what product they can make with their skills and knowledge which matches today’s and future needs? So that the products can sell enough for them to hire apprentices to pass them on.”
Have you ever wondered what kind of world we would be living in if all techniques and knowledge were passed on to current generation without disappearing? The world there are some people knows what the reliefs and mural mean all over the world? We know they existed. But even if we want to use the method or knowledge, we have no way getting them now. In our human history, there are so many civilizations have disappeared. Each time, human culture has lost great techniques and knowledge. How hard historians and archaeologists try, these will never be revived as freshness sense as in “My grand farther taught me this”.
Today, in modern society, you might think it is impossible for some techniques and knowledge could disappear. We have cameras to keep photos and videos and other recording system. However, it is happening, every day. It easily could be happening in your family, right now. For example, family recipe passed on to parents to children, generation after generation. They say, if one generation did not receive the recipe, the recipe disappears from the earth within 2 generation. How about language? If there is a child who have a Japanese native speaker and an English native speaker as her/his parents. The child was born and grew up in out of Japan. Next generation most likely do not speak Japanese, unless the family made so much effort.
Not only in Japan it is happening, but we are in Japan, so allow us to tell the view in Japan. There are wonderful methods and materials to create beautiful things which passed on for centuries. Once in a few years, we hear a news “The last artisan of /crafts name/ has just passed away”. Some of our methods and knowledge are disappearing.
A lot of people say “Ah, well, but nobody needs the type of products”. Well, that is true. But what most of us even the some craftsmen and artisans themselves have not paid attention is “products(shape)” is not needed by modern days but “methods & knowledge” could be needed today and future. Once the method & knowledge are gone, when the people in the future want to revive them, they have to go through the same “try and error” like our ancestors did.
We curate and work with producers of traditional crafts with the eyes of “what product they can make with their skills which matches today’s and future needs? So that the products are sold enough for them to hire apprentices to pass method and knowledge on.” The artisans’ real valuable such as skills, methods and knowledge are not in something we can write it down or to be able to understand watching videos. Only way to pass them on is being taught, see, and do, person to parson.
We do our best to curate products with natural materials and not to mass produce too much to prevent ruin the balance of nature. Also, we try our best not to use plastic for our package.
One of our goals is to introduce products that consumers purchase them because they fell in love and want to use them long term, not because they are cheap and able to throw away anytime.
We would like to gain fans of our products to shift the way of thinking towards consuming habit, through the shopping experiences (noticing, considering, comparing, fall in love, wanting, paying for it, use them, love them more).
Us also being consumers, we do have choices, but it is limited. Us being in a channel of people who decide “what to sell” can provide the choices to consumers. The products sold today is not there because consumers wanted, they are there because people in supply chains choose to sell.
We believe in the end, it will help to reduce waste if more people are choosing the long lovable items carefully, spend money on the true value for the products and use them as long as it last.
With other 2 philosophy, we still have to curate or work with producers to provide “attractive and realistically buy-able” products. We pay more attention to our intuition when we first see the products. If we feel something that our sensitivity is zapped. Without us fall in love with products or producers, we cannot introduce these products to you with confident and passion.
50 Years from today…
I want this planet to be the place still habitable and nurturing blossoming culture and vibrant economic activity.
I want the world to be the place my child and grandchild generations can dream about something spectacular, regardless of their age.
I want the society to allow anyone to make one’s dream come true if the person willingly wish for it and work hard among healthy competitions.
I want the general sense of value to be what living humans create are still beautiful and valuable for people.
I might not be around in 50 years from now to see it. However, if I could be even a drop of the flow to make it happen, I believe pouring all my professional effort into KoLe project is more than well worth it.
KoLe Head Curator,
For next few years our aim is “Reduce” and “Plastic Free”. We try our best to curate products which do not use plastics. We try our best to make our packaging plastic free. We curate products which consumers could fell in love with and use it longer.
When we curate from traditional crafts artisans, we work with them to provide the products which suitable for today and future in abroad market using their skills & knowledge. If these skills & knowledge were needed, it will not disappear from our planet. —see more details in “Our curating philosophy”.
It links to “Environment”. If we provide breakable cheap products, it means we are providing more waste. For customers to fall in love with our products to use them longer years, high quality is crucial. It is the key to reduce waste.
This is a power of retail shop. Have you ever decided to buy a product because you heard a story about the product and you just love the story? And these products are something that you take good care of, don’t they? We don’t just curate products, we curate stories with them. The story which producers even haven’t noticed it can be a great story to tell. We curate them to inform you with the products.
When we see products especially from traditional crafts artisans, we know if the artisan has will to move forward. In another word if she/he is comfortable with creating something out of traditional shape. We are aware that Japan has quite unique culture even compare to neighbor countries in Asia. So, for us to be promote the producers’ goods often we need adjustment for the market. Some are not happy changing a bit. Some are quite flexible with it. We work with the ones who can see the future with us and happy to make change or challenging something new.
If our curator didn’t get exited about the products we deal, we cannot give 100% to promote the products and work with you towards consumers. Our goal is for us to increase partners sales. So, excitement towards products/producers are very important criteria of all.
The curation themes
We put up curation themes on above basic curation criteria. All year around and basic Curation theme is “Colors of Shikoku”. Curation themes are decided accordingly to events we run or per requests from our showroom.
All products have to meet 2 or more of the criteria
Unless the product was curated under the special curation theme, the all products have to meet at least 2 of these criteria.
The products which is not easy for foreign buyers to discover
We prioritize to put on our catalog if the products are not easy for foreign buyers to be discovered. Otherwise there is no point for our curators to be eyes and ears for you and our showrooms.
Why we do curate from small producers.
When Japanese producers aim markets in abroad, often language and complexity of exporting regulation and paperwork become the biggest obstacle.
KoLe is a service of taking the part of marketing and exporting items on behalf of producers. This way, they do not have to worry about marketing in abroad and exporting. So that they can concentrate and spend maximum time doing what they are already brilliant at, “creating”.
In this sense, we are more of service provider than regular trading companies. If we are chasing after only the amount of profit, we will go for producer who can mass produce and lower the price.
Middle size and big size companies have more chance to be able to afford costs of time, human resource and fund, comparing to smaller companies and self-employed producers.
We would like to offer our service to the ones who can benefit the most from us. That is more likely to be smaller producers and self-employed producers.
We believe our value of existence is to introduce you the products which you have not seen, yet. Being on the world trade fair is time consuming and costly. If the producers were self-employed, while they are on the fair their production stops. Because of those reasons, it is difficult for foreign market to discover them.
Not being exposed to the world does not mean their products are not for you to use. Sometimes, it is quite opposite.
“Oh, my goodness! Where did you get it?! I’ve never seen that!” That kind of comment we would like you to get from your friends and family with our products.
This is the probably the most important reason for us. Please check our “Preserve methods and knowledge for future creators and craftsmen” in “Curation Philosophy” above.
Pon&Con Kikaku, Inc. SP&AP4C div. Head Curator & Head International Sales
Born and grew up in Marugame city, Kagawa, Shikoku, JAPAN. Her earliest memory of her life was drawing when she was 2 or 3 years old. She went to a high school specilized in Fine Art. Then she went to Dublin, Ireland to learn English for 5 years. After gaining experieces in different fields, she joined us as a designer specialized in working for small business/ solo trader. Now, she made a decision to change our design devision to current style.
Latest KoLe Post
SHIKKI or Japanese lacquerware is one of the best-known Japanese Traditional Crafts. But do we really know about the material? SHIKKI is a product that is painted or/and worked with URUSHI. In this article, we cover the super basics of URUSHI and a great example of how URUSHI was used. Once you know these, you will know about URUSHI material more than some Japanese people!