Can you guess what this unique bag is made out of?
(Hint: Notice the word “GUATEMALA” printed on the side.)
Answer: coffee bean sacks!
These bags, made by KISSACO, are very sturdy because they used to carry large amounts of coffee beans. They are also redesigned to be waterproof and long-lasting. No wonder they’re loved by people of all ages!
Here are some of their bags. They are all very stylish and unique, don’t you think?
Now, don’t you want one too? Let’s take a look at what KISSACO is all about.
KISSACO: the Smile-Creating Business
How did KISSACO come to be? The designer, Yuri Okamoto told us her story.
KISSACO came to me so naturally. I like to share happiness and laughter with everyone. That’s just who I am, and I wanted to make that kind of a business.
(Right) Yuri Okamoto
Okamoto studied at a bag-making school while she worked at a cafe and a publishing company. She then began work at a bag-making company, where she noticed how many materials were wasted along the process of production.
Okamoto was also inspired by her findings abroad. In the Philippines, she saw children get sold off right in front of her. She learned through the movie “Black Gold” that the world does not always have fair transactions between people.
And in Vietnam, she met Mayu Ino (head of the non-profit organisation “Seed to Table”) who told her that, in the rural areas, Vietnamese women lose income during the rainy season.
These moments all came together in Okamoto’s mind when a coffee bean sack arrived at the cafe she was working at.
Just then, an idea sparked inside me. I wanted to use this material to make bags, and establish a company that provides jobs for people in countries such as Vietnam.
These materials such as the hemp sack and the metal parts might be garbage if thrown away. But they could bring smiles to people by reusing them to make bags.
Ms. Okamoto with Vietnamese children
Paying for What you Believe In
Why does Okamoto see so much potential in KISSACO?
I want to pay for something I believe is right. It’s not about mass producing to satisfy the “want”. Buying is a form of cheering on those firms and people that deserve it.
Even under this age of mass production, there are still many small factories along the older areas of Tokyo. Okamoto stresses that those craftsmen played a large part in making KISSACO.
We worked together to make KISSACO of highest quality, so that the buyers could use these bags comfortably for a long time. I believe this precision and care for both the product and the buyers are what we can call “MADE IN JAPAN”. Without these small factories, “MADE IN JAPAN” wouldn’t exist.
The next time you go shopping, stop for a moment and ask yourself:
“What do we pay money for?”
Just remember, there are other products that were made by those craftsmen working in the older areas of your town in a small factory, just like KISSACO.
KISSACO teaches us a vital lesson about making, selling and buying products – and it continues to make people smile all over the world.
[via Greenz.jp written by Felix Sayaka]
[English Text by Mai Iida]