I started collecting pouches a long time before the madness started with brushes. Pouches made me smile, they reminded me of my travels and when packing, it felt already like being away! The joy of packing, when it comes to make-up and brushes, is real!
As much as I loved pouches, when the brushes launched I never thought that I would have the chance to ever work on pouches! I received messages asking if I would ever add pouches with the brushes and I admit that I really wanted to try! There were two possibilities here: go the mass production route or the artisan route. Obviously, you know which one I would go for. I tried more affordable options but it just didn’t work, the quality wasn’t there so I decided to wait.
If you are familiar with Japan and make-up brushes -or Fude as we call them- , you may have heard of Artisan and Artist. They are the talented people behind the manufacturing of my pouches and of course they have their own products, camera bags, make-up bags and more.
I know this brand since the very beginning of my blog, I discovered them in Japan in a big shopping mall. Since then, I used to regularly hunt the Japanese malls looking for their items to stock up on their pouches. Not an easy task at the time, it’s gotten easier now because I can speak just enough words in Japanese to say what I am looking for and I can understand their answer or instructions, most of the time! Malls in Japan can be very, very big, and sometimes Fude, souvenirs of interest for Fude lovers or beauty brands, are scattered in several floors.
The funny story is that Artisan and Artist’s President/CEO is someone who used to work in Switzerland, in the same Luxury Group as I did, although not in the same location. After our first meeting we realized we shared the same interests, values and passion for what we do, that felt absolutely amazing. And here we are today, working with Artisan and Artist has been an honor and a blast!
I love to show you the behind the scenes whenever I can, depending on who we work with, this is not always possible. We have the opportunity here to see their tools and how they work, this is something I always have been so curious to see!
I have met them several times and spent quite a long time with them upon each visit, talking about their history, their products, the craftsmanship and the thought that goes into each item they create. They truly are determined to make great quality products – and it shows.
These two pics were not taken the same year, one is at their offices and one at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Tokyo located besides the Meguro river. It was the largest Starbucks in the world at some point, not sure it still is today but it is so impressive, the smell, the sounds, the tubes moving the coffee beans all over the place, it’s mesmerizing! it felt almost as big as the entire Switzerland! At the end we picked up some items from the bakery for the evening and decided to go to a more calm and traditional coffee shop for our coffee and delicious cake 😀
Artisan and Artist people are talented, diligent, kind and funny, I mean, we can be serious and we are 99% of the time, that said, my face hurts when I leave because we laugh so much! I genuinely feel like I am part of a super cool team and I am always looking forward to spending time with them.
When it comes to the manufacturing of their bags, the process and complexity will vary depending on the design. It’s quite different from the brush manufacturing so it was very interesting to see and learn more about their craftsmanship and techniques. It helps to understand why some steps are so delicate or time consuming and you get a glimpse of what they are capable of, which is phenomenal.
I wanted to take you with me and go behind the scenes, show you how they work and what they use. So, let’s have a look at some of the steps of the process. When I asked them how the fabric was cut, how it was put together and sewn, I was thrilled to see that they were happy to share more information. It’s not something we often get to see, who is working on the items and how things are actually made, this shows us how honest and kind they are.
This is probably what surprised me the most, these metal structures look like something that could be used to make someone talk. They are obviously extremely sturdy and I guess they could easily be used for torture, but here they have a different purpose, which is a relief.
In order to cut some pieces of fabric with precision and less waste, they welded these moulds specially for these items that they use inside a press machine.
They align the mould, press the button, the green press goes down and snaps!
Depending on what they need to do, they will use different tools obviously, but it’s so interesting to know more and to see them at work.
Their sewing skills are impeccable, the precision and the robustness is what drew my attention in the very first place many years ago, and this hasn’t changed. I have purchased a lot of their pouches during these past years and I have never been disappointed.
They may use guides or have their own little tricks to make sure everything is nicely aligned. Very useful with the Brush Envelope design because of the multiple layers.
You can read “Made in Japan” at the back of each black and red Sonia G tag. Working with Japan, with their traditions and craftsmanship was the most important thing to me, even if that meant making just smaller batches of items.
The hardware parts they use are of excellent quality, the cost reflects the details and like I mentioned before, it’s consistent with their products ever since I first discovered them.
These metal parts are made with black nickel, which is highly corrosion resistant and they added a clear coating to protect it further from elements. All metals will have their own way of showing signs of ageing and wear, this was the most durable metal and finish that they could obtain.
The jacquard used for this Limited Edition release was Made in France and showcases a houndstooth pattern. You may wonder why I did not go for something more Japanese inspired, something based on traditional fabrics, that is a good question. A few years ago I have visited special fabric manufacturers in Kyoto because I wanted to know more about the weaving and history, so, it was in my mind. Unfortunately, the situation since the beginning of 2020 has been difficult, without being able to travel, it’s more difficult to work with them.
But I love geometric patterns so much and this was a chance to do something else, quite different from what we usually see on cosmetic pouches. The outside jacquard is made in France, the inside lining is made in Japan.
With regards to the design, this Envelope pouch was originally designed for 3 brushes, the idea was to carry just the essentials in a compact stylish case. Since there is an elastic tape across the middle, we extended the tape to offer 3 smaller additional compartments on the left for thinner brushes or items. The removable flap is a fun feature to protect both sides from touching, whenever needed, and this plastic is actually the only really easy to sanitize material that we could envision today.
I will be happy to share more details or little videos in the future and I hope to be able to take you along with me during my next visit.
By the way, the “Sonia G” website is under construction and the full gallery will be available there once the website live! In the meantime, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate!
My designs, as well as Artisan and Artist products, are available on Beautylish, you should have a look at their beautiful items and if you want to support either of us, that would make me very happy! 🙂
Due to this painful covid situation, I was not able to visit them in Tokyo recently so Artisan and Artist were so kind to take these pictures for us. A huge thank you to them, to everybody who has worked on these items, and an even bigger thank you to you, for your interest and for supporting Japanese craftsmanship!
Stay safe! 🙂