Hyper Japan 2017: Launching Geri Draws Japan!
My first event as a vendor was a success!
From July 14-16 I attended the Hyper Japan Festival in London as a first-time vendor where I launched my Geri Draws Japan illustrations and goods. Since getting back from my trip to Japan in February, I’ve been planning, designing, printing, packaging, and stressing over getting every last detail right. As retail and travel blogging is a whole new venture for me, there were certainly a few moments of stress and frustration along the way when things inevitably didn’t go right the first time, but in the end I felt so proud of everything I accomplished and especially happy with how my table looked!
I launched Geri Draws Japan with four different products: art print packs, traditional-style tenugui cloths, embroidered patches, and enamel pins. In addition to the print packs, I decided to offer single prints as an online-only option, but I’ll be sure to offer a selection at my next event to give customers an even wider choice.
Art Print Packs
Last year, I worked on a project called 100 Days of Japan, where I illustrated 100 different things about Japanese culture that I loved. I wanted to offer something more special than single prints, so I curated five different packs of themed prints: Japanese Animals, Japanese Food, Japanese Culture, Summer Festival, and Japanese Sweets. Each pack contains five different prints.
Each print is printed using archival pigment inks on acid-free paper, and each pack is hand-wrapped in matching paper and sealed with a sticker label. As a graphic designer, I’m a huge packaging nerd, and I was heavily inspired by the Japanese aesthetic of gift wrapping and origami, so it seemed like a perfect way to make each pack feel a little more special while giving a subtle nod to Japanese design.
Enamel Art Pins
Stemming from my illustration project, I designed a few physical goods to expand my range. I adapted my illustrations into three enamel art pins which I had manufactured by ML Badges in the United Kingdom. I opted for three designs for launch: Daruma, Sakura, and Ramen.
The Daruma pin has the added feature of being able to draw in the eyes with a permanent-ink pen, so you can use it the same way as a traditional daruma doll for setting and achieving goals.
My first patches are manufactured by Made by Cooper in the United Kingdom, and were an especially big hit at Hyper Japan. I designed the Hanami Dango and Kappa for launch, but it was pretty clear from the folks who visited my stand that the Kappa was the real star of the show!
It was wonderful watching folks’ expressions as they walked by my table… seeing their faces light up when recognising the Kappa was lovely to experience and confirmed I made the right choice in choosing him for my launch!
I’ve been in love with the concept of tenugui—the Japanese multipurpose towel—for a long time, especially since my first visit to Japan when I quickly realized how essential they were to carry in my bag for drying my hands in public washrooms. Of course, the possibilities for a tenugui go way beyond being a simple hand towel—check this brilliant Tofugu article for a deep history on the tenugui and for tons of usage ideas!
My tenugui are printed on 100% cotton and hand-cut to the standard 13” x 35” long rectangle and wrapped in a paper obi. I’ve got my eye on a factory in Tokyo that does traditional furoshiki printing, so I hope to expand my textiles offering even more in the future.
Hyper Japan was not only my first event as a vendor, but my first as an attendee, as well. The Tobacco Dock venue was a beautiful building, although the heat was a little overwhelming at times. We were very relieved to be in the Vault level where the air wasn’t quite so stifling. I met so many kind people who purchased my products and gave me some amazing feedback about the look and style of my display.
Although there were many memorable moments throughout the weekend, one of the biggest highlights for me was a surprise visit from the original TV crew who filmed my audition at the London Japan Matsuri last year!
They filmed my stand and products, chatted with me about my next plans for okonomiyaki, and gave me the opportunity to thank the TV Tokyo audience one more time for inviting me to Japan to appear on「世界！ニッポン行きたい人応援団」(Who Wants to Come to Japan?)! I still feel so grateful for every opportunity they’ve given me!
My next confirmed event is the Doki Doki Manchester Japanese Festival, taking place on Saturday, November 11, 2017! It’s a one-day event from 10:00am until 7:00pm at the Sugden Sports Centre, and tickets are available to purchase from their website. I’m hoping to introduce a few new products at this event, including stickers, single prints, and greeting cards, so I really hope to see you there!