Kimono karma

Chieko Page

Photo By vic cantu

The recent Japanese earthquakes and tsunami have killed thousands and profoundly affected Japanese-born Chico resident Chieko (pronounced “Chico”) Page. Though her family was unaffected, she’s committed to helping the victims. So she’s making and selling fine travel bags made from kimonos called “Kimono Dream Bags,” and will donate 50 percent of the sales to the Japan aid effort. E-mail Page at <script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">{ document.write(String.fromCharCode(60,97,32,104,114,101,102,61,34,109,97,105,108,116,111,58,107,105,109,111,110,111,100,114,101,97,109,64,103,109,97,105,108,46,99,111,109,34,62,107,105,109,111,110,111,100,114,101,97,109,64,103,109,97,105,108,46,99,111,109,60,47,97,62)) } </script> or log onto her website at

What inspired you to make kimono bags?

Though very beautiful, kimonos are very uncomfortable and even in Japan are only worn rarely, on ceremonial occasions. I myself hadn’t worn mine in years and accidentally left them behind in Colorado when my husband and I moved to Chico in 2001. So I thought it would be great to collect unwanted ones and make nice accessories from them.

How did you get the idea to sell bags for charity?

I originally made and sold them two years ago at the Made in Chico store, but it didn’t work out. Then last December I decided to sell them through my website and sold only a few, which was OK because they are very time-consuming and hard work. Then on March 11, which is the wedding anniversary of my husband Tom and me, the massive 9.0 earthquake hit Japan and caused the deadly tsunami. I thought, “This is the purpose of these bags!” It was karma and the universe’s way of telling me to do something to help the victims after my retirement. I know my mother is pleased watching me from heaven.

What are the bags made of and what is their main use?

They are like a woman’s elegant organizer or purse made of 95 percent silk from actual kimonos donated by women from Japan. They sell for $27-$47 and make a great travel bag for lingerie or other delicate items. Women love to have a beautiful, unique holder when traveling or staying at an impersonal hotel. Their hidden flap provides privacy when airport security inspects your luggage in front of everyone. I also make colorful grocery handbags from oilcloth called “Kimono Dream Oilcloth Totes” that sell for $5-$25.

Who will you give the money to?

To a needy family in Fukushima that I have yet to choose. That area was hit with three major catastrophes at once: the earthquake, the tsunami and the nuclear disasters.

How much money would you like to raise?

It may only be a small amount, but even a small pebble dropped in a pond radiates larger and larger circles. I plan to ask a business to match the money I have made, and in one year will send it all to Japan. My strongest hope is that I will give enough money to put a roof over a family’s [head].