The Notebook That Launched a Business
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When LA-based Wakako Takagi discovered the Traveler's Notebook in her native Japan four years ago, she told herself that one day she would open a shop. And she did. Baum-Kuchen —an online resource for stationery and other lifestyle goods from Japan, Germany, and Takagi's far-flung travels—is the result. The former trend researcher's criteria are simple: Goods should be "Functional. Beautiful. Emotionally and physically durable." As for sourcing from her travels, she notes, "I love feeling the cultural temperature on the street by myself and projecting what will resonate with my customers for a long time." Read on to learn more about her finds. Above: Brass Pen based on a vintage design from Japanese company Midori; $29. Wakako tells us, "I love good stationery because it brings great inspiration for tactile and analogue ways of communication... either a memo to yourself or a letter to someone you love." Above: The Traveler's Notebook with brown leather cover accommodates paper, passport, pen; $56. The notebook that launched Baum-Kuchen. Wakako confides "Even today it is one of my favorite products I own in my life... and I am happy that I can share them with my customers around the world." Above: Small Kraft Envelope with string: from Japanese Stationery maker Midori; $6. When asked why Japanese stationery is so good, she notes, "Good quality is expected and appreciated in Japan! I also think there is definitely more demands and interest in the variety of stationery and paper products in Japanese market. I remember being very surprised when I first moved to the States many years ago... that we could only go to Staples or Office Depot to purchase stationery." Above: Brass Number Clips from Midori; $12. Above: Stitching Postcard shows a map and comes with a needle and thread so you can stitch your own itinerary; $6. Above: Michael Sans Berlin Leather Bag handmade in Germany; $480. Above: Wakako with her German husband. FYI, The name Baum-Kuchen refers to a German cake that is popular in Japan.