nookasia tour summary 2009

it's been a while since i posted a "real" blog entry. even though the recent press gets better and better, nooka is still a small self-financed start-up with all the problems associated with such an endeavor in the current economic environment. we have felt the changes in the economy like everyone else the past year, and more so in asia than other areas we sell our products in. part of me feels that we are still too small to successfully penetrate some of the markets we're in, and another voice says it's important to be as global as possible when our core value is "universal communication". all of these issue combined to necessitate a trip to some key areas in asia.

i was in tokyo, taipei, seoul, manila, and singapore with the goal to research/promote/reassess nooka in those markets [japan is the only country i have a nooka office in, the other countries are via distributors]. as you can see, china is not on the list for this past trip as unfortunately, nooka really is too small a brand to tackle that market successfully. that said, we are in lane crawford in hong kong, shanghai and beijing, and the nooka strip is soon to be in all hong kong bauhaus locations!

well, 5 weeks is a long time, and 5 days in most cities was hardly enough to make me an expert, especially since i directed most of my energy to meeting with press people and i used any free time to visit shopping areas to learn more about the markets..

tokyo tokyo and japan are one of our best overseas markets and functions the most similar to the US – a nice mix of small independent boutiques, larger select shops and department stores that understand how to sell independent designer brands. our gallery event for the nookanooka art collabs was a success and i look forward to seeing the press from that. i enjoyed the food and catching up with my friends. being in tokyo feels like being home for me. that said, we need to double our efforts in japan, especially as it seems the nooka strip and AO are on their way to being hit products. on a negative note, we couldn't have predicted how difficult and expensive it is to import fragrance into japan, even with having a proper office on the ground.

taipei taiwan is a market we've had some missteps in, and i hope we'll do a better job this time around. i was a bit disappointed with the turn out buyer-wise for the event our distributor planned, but i know these things are hard to predict. my feeling is that taiwan will need a lot of nurturing to be a successful market for nooka and i hope our new distributor there can make that happen. here is a link to one of the press pieces that came out of it here. if you have a cool shop in taiwan that could do well with nooka, send us an email so we can make the intro to the people handling the brand there. i'm glad i got an afternoon to soak in a hot spring all the way up the picturesque and very volcanic yangmin-shan mountain with my brother-in-law and also had time to see all my extended family in taipei. i also met with a factory to work with on some new nooka electronics...

seoul design boom seoul, what the korean government was calling the design olympics was very well prepared but seemed under-attended as the scale was so huge. well, the scale of seoul is quite huge! i spent a lot of time learning the city and covered a lot of ground. seoul is a challenging city and will require a lot more energy to reestablish the brand. again, this is a challenge i hope our current distributor is up to. if not, more trips to korea is in the cards. like i wrote before, if you are a cool shop in korea and love nooka, shoot us an email from

manila the philippines is not what one thinks of as an international fashion market, but i was pleasantly surprised by what i found – it was by far the most democratic display of capitalism i ever saw [i am talking about commerce, NOT the overall sociopolitical situation]. major european brands shared the floor with asian brands, mid-market american brands AND local philippino brands. even the food courts at malls have a mix of major US chains, japanese chains and local/regional chains. it doesn't hurt that i LOVE philippino food and my hosts were very diligent at setting up press interviews – i spoke with writers from over 10 publications/media outlets! here is one of those interviews. another great thing about the philipines is that they use asian models in their advertising more than other asian countries i've visited. i even got to hang out with many of those models at the event we had!

singapore we just signed with a new distributor in singapore who handles malaysia and some placements in thailand as well for us now. he is a very cool and very smart guy named mack who took very good care of me my few days in equatorial singapore. i had so many fun things i wanted to do, like the night zoo, but was down with food poisoning my first night from a bad coconut at the night market [i did get to experience the excellent affordable singaporean healthcare at one of their hospitals!]! i need another trip to catch up on those things as i was sick my only free weekend the whole 5 weeks. i did a nice interview with a style blog, happyesque in blackmarket, a cool shop in SG that sells nooka. the interview is here. the blackmarket website is here. nooka is also available at TANGS, and they did a funny feature on me you can see here, and a top ten list here. i was not in my best form for the monologue series, but it may be more entertaining that way. i also had a great on-air interview with lavinia of LUSH 99.5 radio. i will post the audio file when it becomes available. my friend chris toh, a genius designer as well [i visited the university he teaches at and met some students], was a great tour guide as was mack. i also squeezed in a visit to the red dot museum and met the director! needless to say, my feeling is that nooka is very singapore, and singapore is very nooka.

back to tokyo, i met up with one of my designers, alex, and showed him tokyo [presentations at our tokyo office, meetings with potential partners] as well as checking out the museum shows leading up to design week. it was unfortunate that i couldn't stay long enough to see design week this year, but my apartment lease is up this month and i need to now find a new place to live! any landlords out there want a cool rising design star in one of their buildings?

don't forget to vote for nooka at pulchra. the voting process may seem a bit tedious, but it is actually really simple. simply drag nooka to the number 1 spot, if that's your choice of course and choose the other 9 objects until you have completed your list. In order for your vote to be valid, you will need to complete the details form. remember you can only vote ONCE PER DAY, so make sure to log on the next day and do it all over again. link is here!

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