Pheigi Sugahara Macdonald's Profile

About

www.reddragonflyakatombo.blogspot.com

The beginnings of Aka Tombo
In 2008 I decided to travel around Asia visiting China, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia before returning to Japan where I now live. The experience was everything the travel books say and a lot they don't. While every book showed pictures of colourful Sari, beautiful mountains and perfect white beaches they didn’t show the everyday sights of traveling and although I returned with the photo album everyone expects my strongest memory is one of dirt. For every beach I sunbathed on, I walked 10 streets covered in plastic wrappers, for every breath of fresh air I took in the Himalayas I took twenty smoke filled in Delhi, for every mountain I looked at, 30 buildings I should have seen were obscured by smog. While people blame this on poverty, politics and history all I could see was manmade dirt from…

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  • Female
  • Born on December 30
  • Joined December 10, 2010

Favorite materials

Tweed and recycled Kimono silk

Shop

AkaTomboMillinery
Aka Tombo Millinery - Modern hats with a...

About

www.reddragonflyakatombo.blogspot.com

The beginnings of Aka Tombo
In 2008 I decided to travel around Asia visiting China, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia before returning to Japan where I now live. The experience was everything the travel books say and a lot they don't. While every book showed pictures of colourful Sari, beautiful mountains and perfect white beaches they didn’t show the everyday sights of traveling and although I returned with the photo album everyone expects my strongest memory is one of dirt. For every beach I sunbathed on, I walked 10 streets covered in plastic wrappers, for every breath of fresh air I took in the Himalayas I took twenty smoke filled in Delhi, for every mountain I looked at, 30 buildings I should have seen were obscured by smog. While people blame this on poverty, politics and history all I could see was manmade dirt from manmade problems. On my return to Japan it became clear that these problems were not just evident in poor countries. Japan is a country of middle to upper-class people, governed by a democratically elected government and covered in concrete, filled with toxins and buried under the waste of its ever growing consumer culture. It was at this point I realised that we are all responsible for the state of the world we live in. The chopsticks I use in the sushi restaurant in Japan are made from wood taken from the forests of china leading to the extinction of the giant panda, the desertification of what used to be lush forests and the yellow sand that covers my windows every morning having blown across the inland sea. The bags I carry my shopping home in are filling landfills for thousands of years as well as clogging the world’s oceans, killing wildlife and destroying the beauty of the countryside (or in Japan where they are burned for fuel, releasing dioxins in to the air which end up in the soil and water before back on my plate). I realised that a vast change in the way we make, buy and discard everything in our lives was needed. Governments can set targets and NGO's can preach in every town center but nothing will change without consumer backing. Consumers are the ones who put money in the pockets of big companies. Consumers are the ones who make or break a product. Consumers are the ones with the responsibility. And so I threaded my needle and started to make it a little easier for consumers to buy planet-friendly.
While researching other products available I realised that most eco-friendly products are bland and beige, the two words I hate most in the English language, so my aim is to be eco friendly AND funky. Everything on my website has been hand made by myself (with the exception of the blanks for the baby clothes which are made in India by a fair trade company who are 100% sweat shop free and use only 100% certified organic cotton). All designs are hand drawn before being screen printed by hand. All fabrics are bought in their unbleached natural colouring and are dyed by myself using low impact dyes. My sari silk and tagua nut is sourced from companies who are helping small communities earn a living through green business or are helping disadvantaged people to earn a living they would normally be unable to. I make every effort to make my products as earth friendly as possible however nothing is 100% for example I am unable to find organic cotton thread so I use cotton thread. Everything is made of wool, hemp, bamboo, banana silk, recycled sari silk. I do not use cotton blends so all fabrics are 100% eco friendly. Being from the Western Isles in Scotland I have a natural love of tweed and like to think I can help to keep traditional industry alive in the islands thus I only use certified Harris Tweed which I buy directly from the weavers or the mill in Harris. I also up cycle so some products are made of recycled buttons, secondhand clothing and old kimono which I find in my local area. My designs are based on nature or a mix of Celtic designs from my homeland of Scotland, Japanese art (especially that of the indigenous Ainu people of Northern Japan) and art nouveau.
In 2010 I got married and while trying to arrange a slighly off beat nature themed wedding I hit a wall of sequins and ivory lace. This has led me to expand Aka Tombo to include wedding veils and fascinators for those who are more colour orientated like myself. While I still try to be as earth friendly as possible there is no such thing as organic veiling and so I am forced to use synthetic fibers. The veil decorations however continue to be made use natural fabrics, recycled kimono, vintage or recycled buttons and pendants and whatever other pretty things I find lurking in my local antique shops.
I hope you find what you are looking for on the site be it a gift for someone or a little something for yourself. If you are looking for something specific custom orders are always welcome.
Buy Eco, change your light bulbs, grow your own veggies and don't spray bug killer on bees.
Pheigi Sugahara Macdonald

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