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A human shop

I was preparing Shop Tema Hima for its opening in a few weeks and realised I have been looking at various references of shops that are nicely done. It seemed like shops that reflects the personality of its owner attracts me the most – even though design wise, it is not so polished. I guess we are living in an age where we wanna rid of everything that is superficial, showy or artificial.

What is the model shop of the 21st century? Is it in the adoption of technology? Is it in automation, should the shop operations be run by robots? I was at Mcdonalds the other day, the point of sales seemed to be replaced by screens and the only interaction I had with a human being is when my number was called to collect my meal. I kinda missed the elderly auntie asking for my order.

I don’t want my shop to be cold. I don’t want my shop to be perfect. I don’t want to be professional. I don’t want it to be of the highest service standards. I want it to be relational, educational, to be like home where you can let your guards down… and most of all, I wish that my shop can be a human shop.

Why did I start this?

I wanted a place of escape. I wanted a place for myself. One that I need not pretend to be who I am not. The past years running our shop was fantastic but I guess it might have taken a toll on me. It was such an enjoyable ride – spending time with my family, making friends with designers and craftsmen. It is a season in my life that I will not take for granted and yes, it is the best years of my life. As we move forward, I kept looking back. There is something I missed about the days when we first started. Maybe its the randomness of things, or perhaps people are a lot more forgiving those days. I do not need to put up a nice signage, nor do I need to do any marketing at all. It is just magical. Things just happen. Customers became friends, friends who accepted you as who you are. Maybe it is the space, the mini outdoor/indoor garden or the children’s room. But I don’t think it is so much about the physical space, I think it is about people. It is about people being real, letting down their guards, allow each other to enter into our hearts.

I wanted people to slow down. Not the kinfolk type. Not the now fashionable type. Just simply taking time for themselves to find themselves. Just like what we did. We took a year off, planning to shut down the shop after a year and head back to “life”. Somehow the shop moved, it worked! Yet I don’t want it to work, I don’t want it to become a “business”. But do I have a choice?

Some time last year, I came across this film. It is captivating. It brought me back to the time when I first started, when I can take time to appreciate every object I carefully placed on the table. In fact, I threw away all nonsensical packaging that comes with it, I wanted the object to stand by itself. Should I present an object for the beauty of its craft or should I try to sell it through clever marketing/sales tactics? I had enough. This year I am going to take the year back. This year, I want to take time. I make to make effort.

Shop Tema Hima is a concept shop inspired by the film “Tema Hima” by Tom Vincent and Yu Yamanaka. The term “Tema, テマ” and “Hima, ヒマ” is translated as “effort” and “time” respectively – the 2 values which are found wanting in our fast moving and modern society.

In the course of running mama, I came across many designers and craftsmen who put in immerse amount of thought and effort in crafting a piece of object. Yet the works they produced are conveniently compared to those that are mass manufactured. Makes no sense at all.

When you realised that amongst your treasury of drinking cups that there is only one that is your favourite – one that you have been using for the past 10 years – really, you don’t want that to be a plastic one.

Let’s not shop for things.

Let’s shop tema hima.