Tomorrow, the Face One and Soft Cheek will be available again. I wanted to talk to you about these two brushes before their restock and share why it took so long. Thank you for being so incredibly patient! This post is destined to those of you who were waiting for them!
I will answer the questions I saw in the comments and also anticipate other questions that may important to answer before these two brushes are back online.
If you are a Japanese handmade brush (Fude) lover, you are certainly already aware of the price increase that has been happening in the recent months or years. This increase is mainly due to the availability of materials -or lack of them to be precise. Demand for them grows but manufacturers only work with their accredited providers who have very limited stocks. If you are new to Fude, then you may not have noticed this price increase just yet.
While the cost for those materials increases, the quality is also unfortunately decreasing. This is a normal consequence of the years passing by so there is nothing they could physically or technically improve to maintain the exact same grade across the same fibers.
This obviously had a direct impact on my own brushes- At the moment, it is impacting the brushes with the longest bristles only bundled with saikoho goat bristles. There is no more availability of saikoho bristles long enough to allow a restock of those bigger brushes. Face One and Soft Cheek are impacted, so the choices here were:
- Discontinue the brushes
- Change the grade of the bristles to a lower quality
- Try to reproduce the impacted brushes with a different manufacturer who still had some stock of saikoho goat bristles in their catalog.
And here is a little more about each option…
“Discontinue the brushes”
I am very attached to these brushes, to their shape and to how they perform so I am not ready to discontinue them- as long as there is interest for them.
“Change the grade of the bristles to a lower quality“
We tried to make them with sokoho which is the next quality down the line but I was not happy. Then we tried with a mix of sokoho and synthetic. Unfortunately the two options changed the shape of the brush, how it splayed for example, and also the functionality. It wasn’t only a problem with the softness which was not the same anymore, but also the functionality of the brush as it was not fitting the purpose that it had initially been designed for.
We could have changed the specs (shape/density) of these brushes so that -even bundled with sokoho or synthetic- they would still achieve the same functionality but they would be two completely different brushes and they would not even perform in the exact same manner.
“Try to reproduce the impacted brushes with a different manufacturer who still had some stock of saikoho goat bristles.“
I thought it was worth trying… I decided to work with someone else that I trust and who is able to take over the manufacturing of these two brushes. I am lucky enough to know personally a lot of manufacturers across Japan and this helps a lot when facing such challenges.
This batch of the Face One and Soft Cheek was handmade in Japan by a renowned manufacturer that I know well. I have followed their work for many years and they are not new to the Fude world. They are not located in Kumano, hence you won’t see the Kumano sticker in these brushes but as you may know, not all the Fude manufacturers are located in Kumano.
I really wanted to work with someone who was extremely happy and eager to make these two brushes for us, someone that I know you all love.
I can tell you that it was not easy at all. Taking over the work that someone else has done, something artistic, it’s not just a question of creating a mould, or assembling the pieces together, it’s reinterpreting what someone else has done with his or her soul and this has been very challenging. It’s much easier to create new brushes from scratch than to take over something existing to the letter.
I really hope it will be ok and that we can continue working with them. By the way, I can tell you that these craftspeople have also made some prototypes of new brushes (upon my request) and they are incredible, hopefully we can release these in the near future.
It was a joy to work with them and to get to know them even better, I feel insanely lucky and privileged. I know that I almost drove them crazy but they were patient, determined and here we are today!
The batches that we will receive of Face One and Soft Cheek are small. This is intentional so that we can see how it goes.
Thank you to all of you for your continuous interest and for encouraging the Japanese artisans with your love for Fude!
I am going to continue this post in question/answer mode, I would like to address specific questions that I saw on Instagram. If you have any other question that I did not answer, I will be extremely happy to answer if I can. Please do not hesitate to leave your feedback or question below in the comment section.
Are these brushes [Face One and Soft Cheek] different from the previous releases?
Just like before, the brushes are both bundled with saikoho bristles, they have the same specs (density, length, etc).
However, when it comes to handmade brushes, all the batches differ, even if you work with only one manufacturer! Natural bristles change from batch to batch and the artisans who make them also change or sometimes they can just be in a different mindset, every element has an influence, this is not a machine made item. With these new brushes, the dye process for example is also different, the techniques are different, the bundling, the finishing, etc. Handmade brushes always slightly differ from each other and they will even more when they are done by different manufactures.
In terms of functionality, the brushes cover the exact same purpose, density and strength feels similar. Softness can differ. When playing with them, I mixed them on purpose, without looking at them, I could not always distinguish the new from the old. Sometimes the new version felt softer, sometimes the old version felt softer. In terms of application and results, they are equivalent.
Is there a way I can differentiate the old from the new version?
Yes, there are several ways to differentiate them:
- The new versions come in a different packaging and they do not have the Kumano sticker, this doesn’t mean they are inferior, but the manufacturer is not based geographically in Kumano, although he does work with Kumano. The production cost is even higher but we decided to keep the same sales price for as long as we can.
- The new versions have a diamond symbol next to the word JAPAN on the handle. I wanted to be able to identify the new versions in case someone feels that they are different from the old batches. They are certainly not fake. The diamond means these are existing Sonia G brushes made by a different manufacturer.
When will they be available ?
They should be available next Tuesday, the 26th of January 2021, but I will update you on Instagram during the day to confirm date and time as I am not 100% sure at this precise moment.
Will you completely change your manufacturer for all the brushes?
No I won’t as long as they can produce them and that all is well.
I can share with you that I do have several projects assigned to different manufacturers, not only in terms of business continuity but I would like to bring to you very special projects and each manufacturer has their very own special skills that suit some projects better than others. I want to bring you the best of each. Hopefully I’ll stay here long enough to show you what is coming and it is amazing.
I hope you will love these brushes, after having tried all the many versions and possibilities, I can guarantee that this is the closest we could get to the original Face One and Soft Cheek!
Thank you for your support, as I always say, I could not be here without you! I am forever grateful.
Love you all!