While the market is closed due to coronavirus, we’re running a regular series of profiles of the wonderful traders who make and sell your favourite Levy Market products. Just who are these individuals who have an idea for a business they want to create and the passion to give it a go? And how do they get from that stage to being at an award-winning community market, where you, the customer, get to make a purchase from them?
This time, we catch up with Pop Up Tokyo. Known to customers for their distintive paper animal masks as well as their paintings, prints, original design t-shirts, Pop Up Tokyo is the brainchild of Ryuji Goto, a Japanese-born self-taught painter and craft maker, and his wife Susan. Their stall has been a fixture at the market for many years.
Hello guys. How is the lockdown era treating you?
We have been spending a lot more time in the garden, trying to be as natural as possible – basically a quite wild garden.
Can you tell us how Pop Up Tokyo came about and how you found your way to Levy Market?
Pop Up Tokyo existed before we were market traders and we used to sell online, there used to be a sister company in Japan called Pop Up London. We enjoy selling artwork and Japanese crafts that you would not see anywhere else. You could say Pop Up Tokyo is like us two, a mixture of a lot of different things, Japanese art work with an unique twist, and a bit of Manchester madness thrown in.
Are there any aspects of the market you miss?
We enjoy meeting new people and also seeing our regular customers, and people coming to tell us about their trips to Japan.
Most of our customers will know Pop Up Tokyo for the distinctive animal masks you create. Are there any animals which are your favourites to make?
I like making owls as their faces are flatter and stronger features. I also find tiny creatures like insects fascinating with the discovery of the details.
Are there any creatures which you’ve found impossible and just given up on?
I never thought about possible or impossible to make any animals yet. I spend so much time and effort to make even a simple one, so I need a desire to face the challenge.
I remember Ryuji once telling me that he never throws anything away – not just unfinished art pieces but anything at all. Is that right?
My dream living is ‘no waste’, finding a value in everything we normally throw away, but it’s not reality for us yet and our bins are still collected by the council regularly, though they are usually half full.
What are the the parts of working at an outdoor market you don’t miss?
Most challenging are days sitting in the cold and rain when we don’t sell much.
Has Levy Market changed your relationship with the area?
Levy is great place to trade, though we often feel physically getting too much for our old bones
AND REMEMBER. We have an ongoing database of all the regular traders you’d usually find at Levy Market but who are instead currently delivering their products direct to customers’ homes. This is a trying time for many small businesses so rest assured that by making a purchase you’d be doing your bit to support someone’s livelihood.