My first job was with a major consulting company in Japan. I appreciated my time there, but was always yearning to do something with a greater direct impact, and something that gives me a greater sense of purpose. I am blessed to have the opportunity to travel the world, and be exposed to different perspectives, ways of living and available alternatives!
A series of serendipitous events led to the founding of merchandise.blue with two highly experienced and interesting friends. Merchandise.blue offers merchandise like uniforms, towels and bags in more environmentally progressive textiles made of materials like seaweed, organic cotton and recycled fishing nets.
When the opportunity to open Kizuna arose, it was clear that I wanted to apply similar values and principles to this physical space.
Because of the people whom I’ve met and the experiences that I’ve had in the last couple of years, sustainability was one of the key considerations in my design brief for the building of this space. To me, sustainability applies not only to the environment, but also to the business. I hope to prove, if only to myself, that we can try to do things better even when running a for-profit business.
I hope to use this place to spark thoughts and conversations about the circular economy, environment and sustainability, and introduce some concepts that may still be fairly new to the people in this old neighbourhood.
As a small company with limited resources, balancing profit and purpose is a constant challenge. I have met a variety of challenges on this journey, including but not limited to:
So while I started off with ambitious ideals and goals, I had to manage expectations. Even though we cannot be 100% sustainable, we can still do whatever we can, with whatever we have, and make improvements when we have the capacity to do so.
Our approach to using materials that would otherwise be considered as waste is apparent in our cafe. The first very thing you notice is the heavy use of salvaged timber in the facade and interior of our space.
We have also worked with many locals to showcase how waste can be turned into something aesthetic and functional. Some of our most notable partners to date include:
This is really a tough one. After several months into the business, regular customers now know that we do not offer plastic bags (new ones anyway), and would make an effort to bring their own carriers (:
Whenever we have the time, we share stories like those about the tables and the aprons with the customers. To many of them, offcuts and zero waste patterns are new concepts. I’m happy to be able to expose them to more interpretations of sustainability this way, and I hope for more collaborations in the future to do even more.
I am happy to have built a platform to show that sustainability can be beautiful and feasible for a business, and look forward to more collaborations and more improvements in the future.
I can share my experiences about setting up a space, and I am open to collaborations that promote sustainability.
Shen kindly accepts to answer your questions.
If you need additional insights, you can send her a message.