1. Tell us a little about yourself
I’m a mom, a multi-passionate designer, I love to cook and entertain. I’m a joy seeker, I love to travel, I’ve been to Burning Man 12x’s and if you invite me to karaoke then we will be friends for life. My guilty pleasures are self-help and contemporary spirituality books and blogs, but I can’t meditate to save my life. I’m Japanese American from the mid-west and east coast, but I speak more Spanish than I do Japanese, and my Spanish is questionable at best. I’m 5 ft tall, but most people think I’m taller because I ALWAYS WEAR HEELS,
And this is a new thing…I’m an entrepreneur and a founder.
2. What is your new business?
The CURA Co. is a conscious lifestyle gallery/brand. We design and source artful products with human stories to tell – all of our products have a contemporary design POV, artistry, fair trade, social impact, and/ or enviornmental sustainabily. Some partners win the gold star and truly hit all 5 points. I’m focusing on female makers, artists and female lead organizations. I do work and with male artisans too, but in most cases I’m all about the ladies. I’m certain that women will save the world and the sooner we are at equal footing and surpass men economically we can get to business and tear down the patriarchy once and for all.
3. What inspired you to start your own business?
I’d spent most of my adult life working within corporate design walls and I expected that I always would, but while on a vacation in Mexico last year I had a couple of vivid daydreams about working directly with indigenous artisans, particularly the Huichol people of the Sierra Madre Mountains. It all just took me by the collar and shook me, and I dug deep into the economic and cultural challenges this highly spiritual indigenous culture faced while simultaneously producing soul moving art and crafts. It’s really just evolved from there. I have an extensive professional background in design and product development, and I realized for the first time that my experience could be put to use to serve others while feeding my creative spirit. It was a risk I felt called to take.
4. What drives you?
At this stage in my life, making a difference. I’m moved by beauty and kindness. I feel spiritually and physically satiated when I see something beautiful –art, design, flowers, color. I’m also so inspired by my partner brands and the good work they are doing in the world, I just want to shout from the rooftops about the intersection of art and equity ALL THE TIME. Starting this business has given me hope and reminds me that darkness illuminates and that we can all make a difference.
5. Tell us about the neighborhood your shop is located in.
The Central district is a historically black neighborhood in the 70’s I think it was roughly 70% African American and now it is perhaps 10%. The gentrification of Seattle has hit this neighborhood hard, but the good news is there is real energy being put into preserving what remains of the authenticity of the CD and a strong effort to bring more diversity here. The Africatown Association is partnering with the developers and the city, and the block I’m on is at present in the planning phase of creating a massive new mixed-use residential and retail development. If I understood correctly, over half of the incoming businesses will be minority owned. It’s a large part of the reason I’m committed to this area of the city. Plus it is super close to my house – the commute is awesome. My gallery is sandwiched between the uber cool Union Coffee Cafe and the popular Ponder Pot store which makes me laugh. It’s been eye-opening to see just how many people drop into Ponder.
6. What impact do you want to have on your local community?
It is really important to me to be present here in the neighborhood and in Seattle, I’m pretty fired up about all the nonsense in the world right now and I want CURA to become a source of inspiration as well as a community gathering spot for workshops, activism and community building
7. Where do you find product inspiration?
Wow, everywhere, literally I’m sourcing products from all over the world now. Africa, South America, India, Ohio, and I’m working with a local organization called Refugee Artisan Initiative, I’m so inspired by their mission and the design collaborations we have in work, it fills me up and motivates me to create more. Instagram and Pinterest also take up a lot of my time…..
8. What has been your most exciting moment so far?
My Grand opening event is happening this weekend (March 9-10, 2019), part of my concept is to celebrate female talent and female artists particularly. My first gallery exhibition is with an artist named Michelle Robinson and SHE IS AMAZING. Art in a gallery setting is often inaccessible, stuffy, people are intimidated by it and I want to help demystify it and again shout from the rooftops about people I believe in. I think because I was a corporate designer for so long, I understand what people are drawn to before they are, so fingers crossed this will be a triple win: for the artists I represent, for my business and for the newly inspired guests that come in our doors.
9. How can people shop your products?
I’ve never followed the path well traveled – it just doesn’t ever seem to work out for me, so I’ve started a brick and mortar before my e-commerce is up and running, but I’m almost there! Sign up for my newsletter and you’ll know when TheCuraCo.com e-commerce is live. In the interim, come see me at the gallery!! 2407 E. Union St. Seattle, WA 98122