“Mokuba is more than a business – it’s art,” said Helene Smagala, owner of Mokuba, a ribbon emporium that finds its origins in Japan. Situated a few blocks down the street from BRIKA’s Queen West, Toronto, location, we have a history of being fascinated with Mokuba and its beautiful product, so relished the opportunity to chat with Ms. Smagala about the brand’s history and philosophy.
Mokuba’s first post outside Tokyo opened its Toronto doors 30 years ago, at a time when the Japanese economy was booming and Mokuba was burgeoning. “The product is so exceptional,” said Ms. Smagala. “There’s nothing else in the world of the same design, style and quality.” Quickly establishing itself as the final word in ribbon design and material, the range of customers varies from fashion students to cake decorators, interior designers and even exotic dancers, who are a fan of Mokuba’s cordings (accordingly – and rather humorously, we may add – sales increased after the release of novel 50 Shades of Grey).
The devoted focus on being a purveyor of only the highest quality product is a reflection of the resolute belief in beautiful presentation in Japan. “When you give a beautifully wrapped gift to someone, you make an impression in value by how it looks,” Ms. Smagala explained. “I’ve never met anyone Japanese who didn’t value presentation, whereas in North America, presentation is an external fluff or expense.” Citing customers who will come into the store looking for giftwrap accouterments that are en par with the cost of the gift itself, Ms. Smagala sums up the philosophy of aesthetics aptly: “A beautiful gift lends itself to a beautiful presentation.”