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How we used the Japanese Concept of Ikigai to Inform Kinalba’s Brand Purpose

Creating our Brand ‘Reason for Being’

When we embarked on the journey to creating the new brand Kinalba, we serendipitously came across the Japanese concept of ikigai – your ‘reason for being’, via a book by author Hector Garcia, ‘Ikigai – The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life’. It focuses on the small rural town, Ogimi, on the island of Okinawa. This town has the highest life expectancy on earth so they must be doing something right.

Japanese people use Ikigai to find their life purpose. So we thought, maybe we could use it to help unearth our brand purpose. We knew Kinalba had to be born from our own personal values and stories. Perhaps ikigai could be used as a method or framework to help us craft the brand essence of Kinalba.

It’s always easy in hindsight to know exactly what you’re all about once it’s written out on paper. Or, in this case what Kinalba is all about now that it has been launched. Yes, it’s a brand that sells luxury Scottish cashmere accessories. But so do others. It’s a very competitive marketplace and we needed to find differentiation; a point of difference. It was important to find our ‘why’, our brand ‘reason for being’ and the pillars it should be built on. That way we could connect with our audience and be able to tell our story from a place of authenticity. We knew deep down parts of that story but it’s never easy to articulate it or even understand it completely yourself. That’s where ikigai lent a helping hand.

What exactly is ikigai?

According to Positive Psychology ikigai is an ancient and familiar concept for the Japanese, which can be translated simply as “a reason to get up in the morning” or, more poetically, “waking up to joy.” In the end, ikigai brings meaning, purpose, and fulfillment to your life, while also contributing to the good of others. Essentially there are four dimensions as seen in the diagram below. At the intersection of all these lies your ikigai,

1. What you love

2. What you are good at

3. What the world needs

4. What you can be paid for

What we love

This is perhaps an easy one for us. And the answer to that starts with family and community. As parents, we are very involved in the kids’ sports clubs – both cricket and rugby, as well as being passionate about regenerating the town we live in.

From a Kinalba point of view, looking through the ikigai lens, we felt there was a strong family story to tell also. Kinalba was a new brand maybe but textile manufacture has been passed down from father to son. The backstory and heritage of the expertise we’re now able to bring to bear started with Sinclair’s father, Duncan Paterson. Family, then, had to be one of the pillars of the brand. Something that perhaps Japanese customers themselves would find appealing.

In addition, the family, past and present, has roots in the town of Galashiels. We have a strong sense of kinship with locals and communities. This also came into our thinking about Kinalba. Our business was and is very much so interconnected with the town and it’s people – our workforce, supply chain, customers, and advocates. We couldn’t build a family brand without the support and participation of the people of Galashiels. Equally, by making a success of Kinalba, we knew that we were able to contribute to the prosperity of the people and town. This certainly came more into focus the more we thought about it and how important that was. There is so much more sense of purpose when you’re doing it for a collective benefit and being able to give something back.

 

What we are good at

Luckily, we’re good at what we do for a living. And we mean that in both the humblest sense but also a wider sense of ‘we’. The textile industry here in Galashiels has been built on specialist skills and craftsmanship that started before the Victorian era. The ‘we’ then extends to the people of our workforce who make world class products. To this day, the Scottish Borders remains the global home of cashmere clothing.

For Kinalba, it then became important to us, that craftsmanship and heritage was another pillar that really shone through. As a new, modern brand, that part of the story could easily have been missed but expertise, skills, craftsmanship are all completely integral.

What the world needs

It’s fairly evident that global warming is playing havoc with extreme weather across the world. The destruction of rainforests and natural habitats is alarming. Ice caps are melting and forest fires are raging. With all this going on it’s easy to feel helpless. But we knew if we did what we could then it all helps. It’s one thing saying it and another doing it. So we wanted to minimise our environmental impact as best we could with a view to constantly improving. From packaging sourced from recyclable materials, to ensuring the grasslands that our goats graze on are maintained through rotation, to animal welfare, to producing cashmere accessories that can last through generations. Each part of the manufacturing process had to be as sustainable as we could make it.

A foundational Kinalba brand pillar of ethics and ethos was crucial in our thinking and our brand way of being. As people become more environmentally conscious in their purchase decisions, we hope that anyone who buys our beautiful products knows they are buying a product made with purposeful values.

What we can get paid for

This became self-evident in many respects. But, we still had to consider that just by launching a new brand that sells into a competitive marketplace, doesn’t guarantee us success. It’s going to be a journey but we’re determined to do it our way and be a force for good. We know our products are the best quality you will find.

Using the ikigai framework, we felt we had the beginnings of our Kinalba brand foundation and the stories we wanted to tell. After all, it’s who we are and what we do. If we built a brand from the ground up and communicated those stories, we hope we can connect with people who will go on to buy and love our products.

Meanwhile, back in Ogimi, Okinawa

A number of the oldest community members were asked about their Ikigai, their life philosophies, and their secrets to old age. Here are some of the things they said:

1. Don’t Worry

2. Cultivate Good Habits

3. Nurture your friendships every day

4. Live an unhurried life

5. Be optimistic

6. Keep learning

7. Live in the moment

Sage words of wisdom, we hope you agree. Maybe it is slightly serendipitous that Kinalba incorporates much of that into our brand purpose. Ikigai has certainly helped us to draw out the things we believe in and build on those. If you fancy reading the book or giving ikigai a go for yourself then we’d fully recommend it. Afterall, who doesn’t want to know their secret to a long and happy life?

Gift Wrapping - Information

Have your luxurious Kinalba product gift wrapped in elegant, sustainable packaging. Our gift to you is that it’s completely free of charge – as is delivery. We will handwrite your message for that personal touch. You can include this in the check out process before payment. Thank you for shopping with Kinalba x

Terms

  • All packaging is recyclable and intended to be used as many times as possible to store your product or for any other purpose.
  • Packaging includes tissue paper to protect your product and then inserted into a Kinalba branded gift envelope (tied with a tartan ribbon during the Festive Season). If you have purchased a Balvenie Throw then we use a large Kinalba box.
  • Notes are hand-written on recycled A6 card and are limited to 120 characters.
  • Where possible we will reduce the amount of packaging by placing two items in one gift envelope.
  • Our service is free of charge.

Gift Wrapping - Information

Have your luxurious Kinalba product gift wrapped in elegant, sustainable packaging. Our gift to you is that it’s completely free of charge – as is delivery. We will handwrite your message for that personal touch. You can include this in the check out process before payment. Thank you for shopping with Kinalba x

Terms

  • All packaging is recyclable and intended to be used as many times as possible to store your product or for any other purpose.
  • Packaging includes tissue paper to protect your product and then inserted into a Kinalba branded gift envelope (tied with a tartan ribbon during the Festive Season). If you have purchased a Balvenie Throw then we use a large Kinalba box.
  • Notes are hand-written on recycled A6 card and are limited to 120 characters.
  • Where possible we will reduce the amount of packaging by placing two items in one gift envelope.
  • Our service is free of charge.