Hello again. Daryl here. I hope you're all safe and well.
It's been very busy here at the atelier since we last spoke, and I have a lot of new things to share — including everything we were originally planning to release at the San Francisco show.
There's the gigantic sketchbook you see above. We've got a new series of diaries to announce. And there are price drops and more affordable folio notebooks to talk about.
So, quite a lot to get through. Let's dive right into it.
Where we are, and where we're headed
As you know, typically we would be at the San Francisco show right now, introducing everyone to the atelier's new releases for the year.
Obviously Covid-19 has thrown a wrench into everyone's plans. But its effects on our industry and our community extend far beyond the cancellation of a few shows.
I won't overburden you with yet another discussion about how the pandemic has forced all of us to reevaluate our priorities. Rather, I'll simply say that I've been thinking deeply about the kind of company I want us to be in the face of this new normal.
I think we can do more to help people cope with this crisis. And we've identified three key areas where we might make the most positive impact.
Firstly, we're going to focus our releases on things that promote personal expression and positive mental health.
I recognise that many of our customers use their Musubi journals as part of their daily routine, whether to write, draw, or journal in, and that we play an important role in helping people cope.
So you can expect to see a renewed focus on things that help make this easier — art paper, and indigenous fabrics, and other things which make the heart sing. We could all do with a little bit more joy in times like these.
Secondly, we're embarking on a concerted effort to excise FOMO, or the fear of missing out, from our operations.
The first concrete change you'll see in this regard is the removal of "special edition" nomenclature across our entire product line. Releases will now be classified purely by their size or format (diaries, jotters and so on) and then by their series (vintage, or Labs, or One Musubi).
Further, we'll actively work on efforts to reduce the need to log on to the website at specific times, or to place an order within specific windows.
You've already seen an example of this in the lottery system we deployed for the Overgrowth charity collaboration with Leigh Reyes, which allowed people to register their intent to purchase over the course of an entire week. Expect more systems like this as we work to prevent FOMO and encourage a business model built around healthy purchasing decisions.
Finally — and this is the big one — we're making a big push for affordability.
This will primarily be achieved through expanding our product lineup to cover more ground. I'll talk about this later in the update, but you should expect more folio notebooks, reusable cases, and other products that allow you to stretch your money further.
The overall idea behind all of these changes is to create a sustainable way for all of you to continue to support our social enterprise efforts while scoring some superlative stationery. You should be able to plan support for Musubi into your budget, without the pressure of having to buy things just to avoid missing out.
I know that the trust we have from all of you is hard-earned and easily lost. We are here for the long run, and I intend to work to keep that trust with every project we undertake.
So! Now that you have an idea of the direction in which we're headed, let's talk about the new stuff.
It's time to draw
Let's get straight to the flagship release for fall 2020.
Introducing the new sketchbook from Musubi:
Since the introduction of our Labs diaries with art-focused papers like bamboo and Spica Bond, we've received countless requests asking if we could offer the same kinds of paper, but in a larger format more suited to sketching and drawing.
Well, here it is.
Our first-ever sketchbook features Kinkakuden, a unique, out-of-production washi from Japan, in a larger-than-A4 landscape format.
Made on the banks of the Niyodo River in Kochi prefecture, Kinkakuden hails from one of the longest and most prestigious of Japanese craftsmanship traditions: the creation of washi, or Japanese paper, in the town of Tosa.
A unique paper featuring just one side coated with a sizing agent while the other side remains untouched, Kinkakuden offers you the choice between two sides depending on your medium. You can apply modern inks and paints to the fixed side of the paper, where they stay put, or instead play with watercolours on the unfixed side and watch the paper soften your art.
The new sketchbook is available here:
This Kinkakuden release is just the first of many art-oriented papers we intend to offer in the sketchbook format, which is a permanent addition to our lineup.
A quick note: sketchbooks take longer to make than our regular diaries do, so I ask in advance for your patience should we need some time to restock this release.
Our prototype diaries, now available to everyone
At San Francisco last year, we had a section of our table devoted to what we called prototypes: diaries that, for reasons of limited fabric or supply instability, couldn't be added to our regular lineup, but which we wanted to offer in some form anyway.
I promised at the time that we would try to find a way to make these releases available to everyone around the world, instead of just the subset of people who could make their way to a show we were attending.
That's happening now. Introducing our new ad hoc series:
This series of diaries will feature short runs of fabric we've picked up along the way. Owing to the fact that these lots of fabric are typically small, the number of diaries we'll be able to make of each will be limited, but in turn there'll be a larger variety of patterns than you'd see in our regular lineup.
Prices are in line with our regular diaries, so that you can pick and choose what you'd like without breaking the bank.
The first release in this series is the diary you see above: an all-black and white affair featuring cats, fishes and paw prints. I know many of you have been asking for more cat-themed releases, and so this one's for you.
We will add journals to this series on an irregular basis, as and when the atelier has the spare capacity to work on them. Keep an eye on our website and you just might spot something you love.
Affordable options for all
Right then. With the new launches out of the way, it's time to talk about our first steps into our push for affordability.
First off — effective immediately, we are reducing the price on our Bank Paper folio notebooks.
This requires an explanation of how we price our items.
Musubi has always priced based on a cost-times model, in which the base cost of making the item in question is multiplied by a certain factor (depending on the product line) to arrive at the final retail price of the product.
In the case of these Bank Paper folio notebooks, sales have been steady and as a result we are now prepared to move to larger quantities with each batch we make.
Since scaling up our production results in the unit cost of making a particular item going down, we'll reflect that reduction in the price of the notebook and pass the savings on to you.
If you've purchased this product within the last 14 days, the price difference will be refunded to you over the next couple of weeks. There's no need to contact us.
Secondly, we are in the final stages of development on a new Cosmo Air Light folio notebook.
I can already see the heads turning.
This is a paper we've had our eye on for over two years now. It's sturdy, colours look absolutely gorgeous on it, and it's just a fantastic paper all round.
We're planning an identical construction to that of our semi-rigid TR folios, so you'll already know what to expect in terms of how the notebooks look and feel.
What will be a little bit surprising is the price. Based on our current calculations, we expect the price for these to be in the region of 25 to 30 USD — making this upcoming notebook the most affordable thing we've released yet.
We're making adjustments to the test prints right now, so we'll need a few months more to see this project to fruition. I hope to have these out to you before the holiday season.
Of course, things might change in development. I'll update you as the work progresses.
Honestly, there's yet more to talk about, but this is already a huge update as is, so I'll save the rest for our next newsletter.
In the meantime, though, I hope you love our new sketchbooks and ad hoc diaries, and are as excited as we are about all the stuff that's coming up next.
As always, stay safe, thanks for your support, and keep lighting candles in the dark.
on behalf of everyone here at Musubi
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