Junichi Nakane & Saki Yahagi Oki | Kumanokoido

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Kumanokoido

In December 2011, designer Junichi Nakane flew to Mali on a cross-cultural expedition of friendship | Travelling across the country, he noticed the lack of clean drinking water in the village of Tireli in the central plateau region, and the high cost of building a well in the village | Upon returning home to Fort Greene, Brooklyn, Nakane began thinking about ways he could contribute to the community of Dogon people beyond simply writing a check | He wanted to make sure that he did something creative as opposed to monetary and boring | A self-proclaimed enthusiast of Polo Ralph Lauren, Nakane has a special affinity for the brand’s Polo Teddy Bear series | Beyond his admiration of the toy line, Nakane considers the teddy bear to be a symbol of friendship that transcends socio-demographic lines | He pitched his friend, Saki Yahagi Oki, on the idea of taking the waxed pattern fabrics used in daily Malian life along with fabrics from other global communities and fashioning them into a stuffed teddy bear | An avid sewer, she offered to create a prototype for him | In September 2012, Nakane found himself with a booth space at the Brooklyn Flea with 15 hand-sewn bears that sold out in less than two hours—and that was the start of Kumanokoido.

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