• Keiko's Journey

    Kay's Memoir about growing up between two worlds and uncovering family secrets. More

  • Yumi's Life Lessons

    Newly revised and updated, Kay's first book of inspiration. More

  • Sheer Determination

    Kay's NEW book chronicles her 40+ years building a socially responsible business. More

  • Blog

    Updates from Kay about everything from her latest creations to book signings and special events. More

Why Celebrate Local Businesses?

In honor of National Small Business Week, I’d like to encourage everyone to shop local! As a Small Business Administration’s SCORE Mentor, I’m more enthused than ever to support entrepreneurs. Let’s all help business owners to succeed in building unique businesses that help to build healthy communities.

It has been disturbing for me to see so many of my favorite local small businesses shut down.  We all know that high vacancy rates in our communities invite crime and general deterioration of the area, which devalues our housing prices along with diminished community image.

My favorite shopping places are scrapbooking and stamping stores. Two of my favorites were located in Issaquah, just a few miles east of where I live. One of the stores, Lasting Impressions has already closed its doors. I seriously went into depression about this! I sent an email to Shirley, the store’s owner and expressed how much I will miss shopping there. My dog Max and I spent many hours in this store, browsing through its numerous aisles which were filled with stamps of all kinds. It was a good feeling to have the staff call me by my first name and they even remembered Max’s name! Every time Max and I visited the store, staff came over and played with Max.  One staff member even brought over a Jack Russell Terrier rubber stamp which looked exactly like Max. Of course I purchase the stamp.

My other favorite store in Issaquah was the Mad Scrapper. The store’s owner, Deanna, owned this store for seventeen years and she worked hard to keep her shelves stocked with the latest papers and embellishments. Keeping a full inventory is not an easy task during difficult economic times. Deanna held on-going workshops for her customers. The classes were free as long as we purchased our supplies from her store. There was no doubt that she put in extremely long hours every day to keep the store’s doors open from morning until late.

One evening, I was working madly to make a cute mini-scrapbook in one of Deanna’s classes. There were ten women in this class. One of the students did not have a particular tool which she needed and was about to get up to purchase one from the store. The woman who was sitting next to her whispered, “Don’t buy it here. You can get this same tool at Michael’s for only half the price using one of their weekly coupons.”

I was so disturbed by what I heard, I couldn’t help but to tell everyone what could happen if we all thought this way. All small, local businesses will be gone, leaving us with only the large chains. Can we get this kind of personalized service from anyone other than the small business owners who struggle every day to stay in business for the simple reason that they are passionate about what they do?  If stores like the Mad Scrapper are forced to go out of business (which, I’m sad to say, is exactly what happened), it will be a sad day for all of us who love the specialty stores and their amenities.

So my advice to all is, please look beyond the price and look at the big picture. Do you like what the small local store do for its customers and the community? If your answer is yes, you owe it to yourself to patronize the small businesses and do your part to keep them growing and thriving. In the end, you may end up spending a little more but you and the community will be better off with a vibrant and healthier economic growth. Happy shopping!

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How to Create a Passionate Business and Life, The Kaizen Way

What is Kaizen? Kaizen is a Japanese philosophy and work plan strategy where employees at all levels of a company are encouraged to work together to achieve incremental improvements benefitting the business, employees, customers and the larger world. It combines the collective talents within a company (or family) to create a powerful engine for life-long learning in small incremental steps. I hope you will embrace the Kaizen way in your business and personal life. I believe that it will help you to change the way you think and open up boundless opportunities in your life.

Click HERE for a free printable, “The Kaizen Way, 5 Steps to Awaken Your Passion for Work and Life.”

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Season of Gratitude

There is so much to be thankful for and no time like the holidays to pause and reflect on what really matters. Many of you know how passionate I am about helping animal welfare organizations do their important work. Whether it’s Pasado’s Safe Haven rescuing neglected donkeys, Old Dog Haven finding homes for elderly pets, Ginger’s Pet Rescue saving dogs from death row at overcrowded shelters, or Precious Life Animal Sanctuary providing a home for abused and abandoned farm and companion animals, I’m so grateful that these organizations exist and do such important work decreasing animal suffering.

Hand painted glass ornaments

Being able to use my business to draw attention and raise money for this cause has meant so much to me. This year was our 10th Annual Angels for Animals event and it was bigger and better than ever. What a delight to see clients and friends come out to purchase handmade gifts, cards, ornaments and raffle tickets to win fun prizes. If you were able to be a part of this event, I sincerely thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you couldn’t make it this year, don’t worry, we’ll host another big event next year to keep helping animals in need!

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Memories, Old and New, in Japan

My recent trip to the southern islands of Japan, Okninawa, Shigata and Kiyushu Islands was soulful and nostalgic for me. My Father and Grandmother’s graves rest in Fukuoka, Kiyushu. Things have changed so much in that area that I didn’t recognize anything as how I remembered it.

The most memorable thing I learned was… Read more

How Do You Correct a Wrong?

Speaking Up Against Nuclear War

There are so many wrongs in our world. I could stay up all night pondering over them… crimes against humans and animals, climate change, political misconduct… this list could fill pages and pages if someone was to write a book about it.

Writing my book, Keiko’s Journey, brought back so many painful memories but I knew I had to tell the story of the devastation and heartbreak caused by war. Read more