One of the most powerful social media tools – Instagram – has helped me get to know and fall in love with a number of local, South Australian businesses. It’s a truly special feeling to be a part of someone’s business venture, someone’s personal journey, someone’s passion to success and while it may primarily be a virtual connection that is created with businesses nowadays, there is still a sense of connection that resonates through maintaining regular interaction with the business owners / managers. One such beautiful business that I recently had the pleasure of getting to know is WaCreationStudio! With the upcoming Gathered SA Markets this weekend, WaCreationStudio will be one of the many local vendors that will be engaging in a fun-filled weekend of market festivities. Catching my attention with their unique and crafty crane earrings, I was so intrigued to learn more about the face behind this cute little business. After having a friendly exchange with Noriko Farrelly (owner of WaCreationStudio) a couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to get an e-interview, where I learned more about her and her business – have a read of our exchange below:
Tema: Who is the face behind WaCreationStudio?
Nori: I am Noriko, the creator of Origami jewellery at WaCreationStudio. I was born and raised in Japan, so Origami was naturally a huge part of my childhood. I have been in Australia for more than 10 years altogether. I have 2 gorgeous daughters and a supportive husband. We used to live in Sydney and in Japan, but moved to my husband’s hometown (Adelaide) in 2016.
Tema: How did you come up with the name of your business – WaCreationStudio?
Nori: “Wa” means Japan, Peace, Circle and Harmony. I wanted a name that reflects what I hope to offer through my creations. Authentic Japan, a calm peaceful feel, a circle of friends a circle of life, a harmony that balances modern Western culture and the traditions of Japan. “Wa” is a short word with so many different meanings!
Tema: How long have you been in business for?
Nori: I started in August 2017, so just over a year. Not much happened in the first six months – it was primarily me finding my way around running a business. I was nervous to talk to customers at markets, and very desperate to make sales to cover the stall fees. Once I started to really enjoy the market experience and not worry about each sales (or non-sale), things kind of started working. I’m happy with my achievements so far and thankful for everyone involved.
Tema: How did you decide on setting up a business that sells such beautiful and uniquely crafted jewelry?
Nori: We moved to Japan for almost 3 years when our eldest was 3.5 years old. So, naturally she started to embrace Origami. Upon returning to Australia, she started school in Term2 with very limited English. As a way of introducing herself, she folded Origami animals for everyone in her class. She was so determined, proud and happy! A few weeks later, we got invited to our first play date, and this new friend still had the rabbit origami on her table. I realised that what I took for granted was actually very special to many, and my daughter revived my joy of being a creative soul! So, I decided to do something with Origami, as a way of introducing a piece of culture to Australia (and a bit of pocket money!) as we started our new life in Adelaide.
Tema: What made you decide on creating origami earrings in particular?
Nori: When I first started, I was selling more crafty things like handmade cards,or Origami flowers. I had Origami jewellery, but they were only a side dish! And believe it or not, there were no crane earrings until much later on! I always thought of the crane design as “trying too hard to be Japanese” and avoided it for the longest time. But I got requests, so I had to started making crane earrings. I also make other types of earrings, as I try to show the beautiful colours and designs of papers. I want people to think that Origami can be modern and cool, not daggy!
Tema: What are you hoping for your customers to experience, when buying from WaCreationStudio?
Nori: Quite often, people talk about their recent trips to Japan, exchange students they’ve had, family members studying the Japanese language, grandchildren who love doing Origami, making 1,000 cranes for wedding….they talk about their connections to Japan. It really thrills me that customers who buy my jewellery not only buy it because it looks good, but also because they feel a sense, a connection to the culture! I’m hoping that my pieces of jewellery will ignite conversations and hold memories.
Tema: Is it true that you source your Washi from Japan direct?
Nori: Yes, I source most Washi ( traditional paper) from Japan. Although, if I see beautiful paper here, I cannot resist getting them, so I cannot say 100% from Japan. Whenever I go back to Japan, I spend hours choosing papers. Textures and colours are very unique and I’m fussy when it comes to Washi. When I run out of Washi, I contact my supplier in Japan (that is, my father!) to send some more over. Many Washi are quite big, so he cuts them all into my desired size – he is (hands down) the best supplier!
Tema: How long does it take (typically) to create your origami earrings?
Nori: This is the most common question that I get at markets. It normally takes me 3 minutes per crane to fold. I have had people watching me fold the whole process. I often say I should start train my daughters soon (6&8 years old) and I’m only half joking! I apply 4 layers of 3 different coatings, so as to let them completely dry. Each steps can add up to about 4 days or so in total. Washi is delicate and absorbs liquids much more than normal craft paper, so it takes time making sure the coatings do not change the original colours.
Tema: Is your business primarily run through Etsy or do you have a storefront as well?
Nori: Primarily doing markets at the moment! I am very fortunate to have a dozen stockists, who were brave enough to take on this “something different” jewellery that they’ve never seen before. They are very supportive and more like mentors. As I cannot mass produce, I can only distribute to limited stockists, which gives exclusivity. You can check your nearest stockists and upcoming markets on my Instagram.
Tema: Do you offer other forms of jewellery or accessories, in addition to earrings?
Nori: I offer necklaces, brooches and I also have hair clips and hair ties for children. I also had a pleasure working with young local talents in fashion photo shooting recently. I created headpieces, giant crane earrings and belts for Kimono inspired couture. It was out of my comfort zone, but a worthwhile experience. It really challenged me to express the possibility and beauty of Origami in different form.
Tema: What does the creative process look like? How do you gain the inspiration to create each item to make it look like a one-of-a-kind?
Nori: I have cardboard cutout in different shapes to decide which part of paper I make into jewellery. Sometimes I have only one piece of 10cm x 10cm paper, so deciding the perfect cut is a fun process. Talking to fellow creatives across different areas is very inspirational and also customers always come up with great suggestions! That is why I keep going back to markets – to see and hear what customers are after!
Tema: What markets are you currently involved with and how did that collaboration come around?
Nori: You can often find WaCreationStudio atGathered, Gilles at the Grounds, Chicks at the Flicks at Event Cinemas Marion by Etsy. Also I’ll be at Japanese related events. Recommendations from other stall holders are always helpful, especially since I am still learning the ways of running a small-scale business in Adelaide.
Tema: What do you think has been rewarding about being a small-scale local business here in Adelaide / South Australia?
Nori: I think South Australia has this great sense of supporting local small businesses like the I Choose SA campaign. People are interested in knowing how it’s made, where it’s made and who is making it. My hometown – Kobe – in Japan also had a “Let’s do it together”, “we are all creating our community together”, kind of similar mindset. The welcoming, supportive environment has made me feel like WaCreationStudio has become a part of this great SA community.
Tema: What do you think has been challenging about being a small-scale local business here in Adelaide / South Australia?
Nori: I suppose small businesses can be affected by events and festivals. Although Adelaide has a lot going on, it’s still quite seasonal and relying on SA locals. Let’s be honest, not many international travelers choose to come to Adelaide on their short holiday! Imagine being at Rocks market or Bondi Beach market…the amount of spontaneous foot traffic and exposure is what we don’t get on a weekly basis in Adelaide.
Tema: Is there anything else that you’d like your customers and our readers to know about WaCreationStudio?
Nori: It is my great joy and has been a priority, that I can contribute to create closer ties at a grass-roots level between Japan and other countries. So even if you don’t purchase anything on that particular day, please feel free to just stop by to test your language skills, tell me your favourite Japanese food, show me the photos from your trips! You are already helping me to achieve that goal. Also, as gifting season fast approaching, we have limited number of paper or tin gift boxes available for a gold coin donation. I will then donate this money to a charity so people in need can have a slightly happier and healthier festive season. When you give gifts from WaCreationStudio to your family, friends and loved ones, you are not gifting once but twice!
With thanks to WaCreationStudio + Nicole Fang for the images!