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Dear You, the one who reached here, 

Thank you for taking a moment to delve into my story. I’m Satoko, the founder of “KoLe, SHIKOKU, Japan” (KoLe), based in Kagawa, Shikoku, Japan. At KoLe, we provide opportunities for you to enrich your lifestyle through bespoke items made with our local heritage craftsmanship. Why? To keep the ecosystem around heritage crafts alive for the hints to a sustainable future. As a token of appreciation for your interest, I would like to share the bumpy journey that brought me to this point. 

2018, I found myself in Strasbourg, France, representing Mr. & Mrs. Morimoto, creators of unique items blending modern lifestyle with Kagawa’s heritage craftsmanship. Witnessing the positive international response to their products sparked a deep desire to showcase them to the world. The desire evoked a memory from 2005.

2005, I returned to Japan after living in Dublin, Ireland, for five years. From 19 to 24 years old, engaging with people from all over the continent in Dublin must have changed my perspectives of the world. The place that once felt too conservative for my creative spirit now appeared extraordinary: filled with nature and traditional cultural diversity. Shikoku, however, lacked the global recognition it deserved. I remember thinking briefly but firmly, “One day, I want to do a business to connect Shikoku and the world” back then.

Fast forward to Strasbourg in 2018, and that forgotten dream resurfaced. To ignite the first spark for KoLe, encountering Mr. Morimoto, a third-generation joiner and certified local heritage craft artisan, and Mrs. Morimoto, a former apparel designer turned product designer for her husband, was essential.

My journey with Mr. & Mrs. Morimoto began in 2016. I was hired as a translator and illustrator for a brand leaflet project. I was impressed by their unique products. Mrs. Morimoto’s determination to bring her husband’s work to the world, despite language barriers and international trade challenges, moved me. I offered to become their outsourced international sales rep, leading me to Strasbourg in 2018.

Post-Strasbourg, I realized I needed a broader platform than being a sales rep. I pitched KoLe to my company, proposing a collaboration where each of us contributes to what we are better at than the other: Mr. Morimoto crafting, Mrs. Morimoto product designing, and me handling everything else in English. The seed for KoLe was planted. Social media and blog efforts began, but I hit a wall.

As Mr. & Mrs. Morimoto gained local recognition, I faced doubts about KoLe’s direction. I needed a clear answer to

“Why it has to be me” and “How my brand can contribute to public interests.” A pause was necessary to redefine my purpose and the brand’s contribution to the public.

The fear of stopping something initiated haunted me. However, it was scarier to continue without a clear purpose. I took time to find a source of my passion, revisiting my return from Ireland after 15 years.

A visit to my parents’ house triggered a revelation. A century-old parents’ house was built in my great-grandfather’s generation, built before mechanization and petro-derived products, and the hands of carpenters and artisans did everything.

Significantly, almost every part of traditional Japanese houses can be replaced or modified part by part. The house I used to think was nothing but old before I left Japan turned out to be a treasure box of exceptional traditional craftsmanship and ancestry wisdom.

It has been an eco-friendly building for a century! The sad thing is finding craftspeople to fix some parts of it in the traditional ways is difficult today because these techniques, methods, and materials are not required in modern Japanese houses. “That is it!”

My life has been intertwined with creating. As a graphic designer, illustrator, and language enthusiast, my passion for innovative creativity and respect for diverse cultures grew during my time abroad. These elements clicked, forming the core of KoLe:

  • The eco-friendly heritage of my family house, but the craftsmanship to maintain it, is disappearing.
  • A deep appreciation for innovative creativity.
  • Addressing urgent environmental issues.

These realizations led to the founding principles of KoLe. Connecting heritage crafts with modern applications became essential. The global scale of preserving heritage wisdom, such as heritage craftsmanship, could offer insights into a sustainable future.

I’m not an engineer or scientist, but I dream of seeing a global impact, as we call the phenomenon “The Filament Lamp Effect” on the About Us page. Until then, preserving our local heritage crafts is paramount. Your participation can take many forms, from purchasing our products to sharing our story. If you would like to join our journey but are unsure how to, let’s talk—our free Zoom chat is open year-round.

Thank you for reading till the end, and I look forward to having you on board.

Best Regards, 
Satoko Kamada

| The Filament Lamp Effect | Our Location & Artisanal Heritage | What We Do | Our Vision & Value |

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