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I originally made and sold them two years ago at the Made in Chico store, but it didn’t work out.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].