Professional musician, Teppei Teranishi, recently completed his farewell tour after many years of success with his band. While on the road Teppei honed several crafts; one of those he has spun up into his next adventure. Operating out of his studio on Vashon Island, Washington, Teppei operates Teranishi Handcrafted.
The Big Plate: What’s on your plate?
Teppei Teranishi: I’ve got quite a bit going on right now — I’ve been a musician in an active, touring band for the last 14 years, but we just got back from our “Farewell Tour” and are going into an indefinite hiatus. This has allowed me to focus more of my time and energy into this project and so I’m doing a lot of figuring out and restructuring to hopefully allow this to be more of a full-time thing.
One of the things is that I just rebranded the brand from Truman Handcrafted to Teranishi Handcrafted (my last name). Getting everything switched over has been a task. Another thing is I’ve finally invested in some better tools and machinery, so researching, purchasing, and learning all these new tools (toys?) has been fairly stressful and time-consuming. I’ve been doing everything with the most rudimentary, base-level, just-barely-enough-to-get-the-job-done tools, and so this will help me to be a little more productive with my time and give me the capacity to take on bigger projects/orders.
And of course, all this while keeping up with orders from both my site and my wholesale accounts. I’ve also got a few special projects I’m working on that I’m pretty excited about. Phew!
TBP: What is the backstory on Teranishi Handcrafted?
Teppei: I’ve always been into working with my hands, designing, and creating things. Life on the road tends to offer a lot of free time and so I’d picked up different crafts/hobbies to fill my time (knitting and amp making being a couple). I found a leathercraft store near one of the venues and dropped a couple hundred dollars on tools and leather and started teaching myself in the tour bus. I started selling stuff a little over a year ago and I guess the rest is history.
TBP: On the continuum – from where you started to your ideal/end goal – where do you find yourself?
Teppei: It’s hard to say because this definitely started as more of a hobby and I wasn’t really looking to make a career out of it. So in a sense, I’m far beyond where I intended to be when I started this. I guess the end goal now though, is for this to be self-sustaining and afford me enough income to allow me to continue doing this, full-time or part-time.
TBP: How long did it take you to refine your craft:
Teppei: Honestly, I’m still learning things nearly everyday. I obviously have enough confidence in what I do that I feel comfortable selling my products to people, but I definitely think that I haven’t reached my pinnacle yet. I guess I’ll let you know when that happens and tell you how long it took for me to get there.
TBP: You reference Tokyo in your blog. Any connection? I (Todd) lived there as a student.
Teppei: My parents are from Japan and I’m 100% Japanese. I grew up speaking Japanese and being fairly immersed in the culture. My mother’s side of the family all live in Kokubunji (Tokyo) and my dad actually lives in Yokohama, about an hour from Tokyo.
TBP: What challenges have you run into operating a online store?
Teppei: I guess my biggest challenge right now is keeping up traffic to the site and generating more sales through the site. It’s hard for me to differentiate at this point whether these are challenges of having an online store or being a new business/business owner in general. I suppose it’s all the above.
TBP: Where do you derive your style from?
Teppei: I really like classic, timeless, minimal, and understated design. From a design standpoint, I’m inspired by anything that fits that criteria, whether it be a motorcycle, piece of furniture, architecture, a piece of clothing, etc.
TBP: How do you decide what products to offer?
Teppei: I guess there’s a certain balance I try to achieve with the overall line. Honestly though, it’s mostly just me getting an idea and following through with it. If it comes to fruition and I like it, then I’ll put it up on the site.
TBP: Any projects you haven’t tried yet, but would like to offer?
Teppei: I’ve got some neat little one-off projects in the works that I don’t think I can talk about quite yet, but I’m pretty excited about it. I also had the privilege of being part of The Hill-Side & Co collab line between The Hill-Side and a bunch of really amazing brands. I’ve been a long time fan of The Hill-Side so I was super honored to be able to work with their amazing fabrics and incorporate them into my designs/craft.
TBP: Best advice you have received?
Teppei: Be a doer.
TBP: What have you learned that you would like to share?
Teppei: This is more something I learned from my music career, but always keep your priorities straight. Do something because you love it and have a passion for it. Make sure you’re always being driven from that love or passion or else whatever you’re doing will become watered down and not only will whatever thing you’re doing lose it’s passion, but more importantly, you will lose your passion.
TBP: Tell us where we can find out more.
instagram user name: teranishibrand