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Meet Mayumi Akin of Soba Studio in Costa Mesa

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mayumi Akin.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Mayumi. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
A few years ago I saw that leather tassel accessories were becoming popular and the prices were very high. I thought to myself… I could make that! I got some scrap leather and a few prototypes later – voila! I had done it. I posted some images on Instagram that caught the eye of a buyer in Japan. She asked if I could make a few and she would shop them around Japan and see if there was any interest. That ended up with a small order of tassel keychains, earring and necklaces. I had a small taste of success and felt the urge to expand into other leather goods. I got busy making prototype after prototype of small leather wallets and bags and a design aesthetic started to form that I was really pleased with. Instead of relying on a buyer, I started visiting local shops in Long Beach and Orange County that I thought my products would resonate with, and struck up conversations with the owners. I was lucky to meet some great people at stores like Peacock & Anneise and Kuarto in Long Beach and Daydream Surf Shop and Kit Coffee in Costa Mesa who were willing to sell some of my items and allow me to do pop up shops on site. I was born in Japan and I feel that my leather goods reflect the Japanese ideals of simplicity and quality. I want them to be timeless items that will last a lifetime.

Has it been a smooth road?
Some of the biggest challenges have been physical. I hand sew everything so at the end of the day sometimes I end up with achy fingers and tired eyes. There was a bit of a learning curve to working with leather. Deciding on the correct leather weights and thread widths took a lot of trial and error. Also building up a collection of the correct tools took some practice and sourcing leather can be tricky.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with soba studio – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I specialize in small leather goods for women and men. Mainly wallets, clutches and cross body bags. I also have a few other items such as leather wrapped candles (I partner with a local Orange County maker), leather key rings, mac book sleeves and even mouse pads. Something fun I offer at my pop ups is custom stamping of key rings and wallets – I have both roman letters and Japanese characters too. It adds a real custom and unique touch to any item. I can’t say I’m most proud of any one item I make – I put my heart into each item and hope the owners can feel that. I would say that because I alone hand make each and every item it sets me apart from any leather accessory mass produced by a factory or workshop that has employees – not that they can’t make great stuff. However, I’m not just motivated by profit, but rather the enjoyment of the artistic process involved in the creation of each piece. I’ve even started hand painting some of my smaller pieces as well – each one is completely unique. Knowing someone is using my creations and enjoying them is the greatest payment I get out of soba studio.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I was born in Japan, then moved and lived for a while in San Diego. Both of my children went away to school in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Visiting both of them in those large cities made me long for the metropolitan lifestyle I had in Japan. We recently moved to Orange County a few years ago and I think it is a good middle ground between laid back San Diego and the hustle and bustle of LA/SF. I’ve met many likeminded people here – there is a lot of creative entrepreneurship going on.

Pricing:

  • Leather cross body bag – $75
  • Leather wallets start at $45
  • Card holders – $25

Contact Info:

  • Email: soba.studio.ca@gmail.com

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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