June's Start-up Challenge: Week 4 - Innovation in Plain (Yorkshire) English
Posted: Fri 5th Jul 2013
StartUp SaturdayÂ alumni June Mineyama, founder ofÂ Mamimu Tokyo, is documenting her progress for us as she seeks to take her pattern business from idea to launch in just 12 weeks. This week, June admits to procrastinating and ponders on the meaning of innovation.
Confession of the week - I'm supposed to document my business progress but I haven't done much to report this week, admits June (left). My hands were full with the day job, this blog and motherhood while my husband was away on business. I'm frustrated that it's not moving forward fast enough but until my business takes off properly, there will be more days like this. Agh. (If you share the same frustration, let's hear it: @mamimutokyo @e_nation)
But instead of mourning, I would like to talk about innovation.
'INNOVATION' - Sounds like a big word. What exactly is it?Â And is it possible for you, me and everyone to innovate?
The dictionary's definition is 'the act of introducing something new'. What does that mean for my business though? It's not like I'm working with the-state-of-the-art MIT or Nasa. I'm just a graphic designer who is passionate about patterns. So can I still innovate?
Prada got me thinking
Far from MIT, I was atÂ Selfridges for 'market research' last weekend. Looking all the bags on the ground floor took me back in time... Remember the Prada nylon chain bag from the 90s? It was subject to all the girls' envy in my college campus. The navy smooth nylon bag with gold chain and the small triangle metal plate holding the "PRADA" logo so proudly was understated glamour, as opposed to the showy-totally-over-the-top 80s bling. Not only was it aesthetically pleasing, but Â the bag was practical -Â light, durable, easy to clean because it was made of fine nylon fabric. And it wasn't just any old nylon, but a durable kind that wasÂ used for the Italian Army parachute. This glamour meets practicalityÂ was a big hit. It's possible that glamour can be practical and vice-versa. This got me thinking.
"The Prada nyon chain bag from the 90s showed that it's possible that glamour can be practical and vice-versa. This got me thinking."
Innovation in Plain (Yorkshire)Â English
After my trip to Selfridges, I asked my husband: "What is innovation?".Â David is a straight-up, no nonsense Yorkshire man and his answer was:Â "Taking something to a new place." The designerÂ Miuccia Prada was familiar with the fine nylon fabric because her grandfather had used itÂ as a protective cover on his steamer trunks. However, sheÂ took the industrial nylon cover to a new place - the catwalk. Perhaps innovation is about joining the unexpected dots together in order to solve a problem. She solved the frustration of many women who wanted both glamour and practicality; not in a rocket science way but just by trying something different. Now let's take this right up to 2013 and let me tell you about my poor my Marc Jacobs bag.
"When I bought the green leather Marc Jacobs bag a few years ago, I thought it would last me for life. But the fact is that it's now battered."
When I bought the green leather bag a few years ago, I thought it would last me for life. The fact is that it's now battered. Come shine or rain, bicycle is almost the only mode of transport for my day-to-day commute. The MJ has been traveling with me every day. You might say that I'm supposed to cycle with such a bag but what's wrong with demanding glamour and durability? I don't want a courier bag. It may be durable and waterproof but it's not glam. I likeÂ Freitag as a business idea but it's not my style. And rucksacks? As far as I'm concerned that is for mountain hiking, not urban commute. The classicÂ HermÃ¨s Kelly Bag is absolutely gorgeous but there is no way I can cycle with such a big expensive bag.
So this is perhaps where I can innovate: the ultimate urban bag that is glamorous and durable at the same time; with my witty patterns inspired by everyday urban scenery; and strong enough to survive rainy day cycling and friction on the Tube. Any collaborators out there?
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Photo credits: June Mineyama