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Posted by on Jul 23, 2010 in Product Reviews, Reviews | 4 comments

Etsy artist: oki tokki designs

Etsy artist: oki tokki designs

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A bunny writes, “It’s the carrot!” with a carrot. That’s Korean for, “Of course!” What a cute option for carrying off your farmer’s market veggies or store groceries. (photo couresty of okitokki.com)

If you’re looking for a cute, playful “Koreanfornian” tote bag to carry your grocery store and farmer’s market goodies, check out oki tokki on the online craft marketplace Etsy.

Environmentalists in California have targeted the ubiquitous disposable plastic bag for elimination supermarket and department stores in the state.

San Francisco passed a ban on plastic shopping bags in 2007, and Malibu wasn’t far behind. A state court overturned a similar ban in Manhattan Beach, but the city is appealing to the California Supreme Court. Proposed state legislation seeks to ban both plastic bags and paper bags from grocery stores.

With all this drama over the frequent checkout-aisle refrain “paper or plastic,” many stores, including Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and even Wal-Mart, sell reusable bags for more eco-minded consumers.

To me the question remains, why give big stores your hard earned money to walk around in public showing off their logo and giving them free advertising?

Los Angeles-based graphic artist Aein, sells her own line of Korean language T-shirts and tote bags. One of the latter with cartoon of a bunny writing in Korean with a carrot caught my attention.

The name okitokki is a “bilingual pun,” according to Aein. It combines the English phrase okie-dokie, a playful reduplication of oki, and the Korean word tokki, which means “bunny” or “rabbit.”

She explains her inspiration on her blog.

Being half-Korean, I hope to create a positive bridging of cultures for Asian Americans and Asians living abroad through my art. And I know how hard it is to find an eco-friendly indie brand, especially one that language lovers can relate to. Thus, okitokki was born out of my love for my heritage, learning languages and making cute and lovely art.

Here is an e-mail interview with Aein:

Where were you born? L.A.?
Nope! I was born and raised in Georgia. The only thing I really miss about Georgia is just my family though! They all still live there so I visit once or twice a year.

What does your name mean?
Aein originally comes from 애인, which means “lover” or “darling.” My name is spelled 에인, so it’s just a deviation. It’s not a common or “normal” name at all, but I love it.

Where did you go to college?
I moved to Los Angeles five years ago to study at the Art Institute and graduated with my degree in Graphic Design. Currently, I’m going back to school to get my degree in Linguistics.

Why are you an artist?
This was a hard question! I don’t think you choose to be. It’s just a desire to create and express yourself that starts growing within, though my mother had a lot to do with it as well. My mother majored in fashion designing and had a great appreciation for music and the arts. She sent my sister and me to a lot of art and music classes during our childhood, and we both loved it.

Actually, I always wanted to take an ice skating or a taekwondo course, but my mom wouldn’t let me. She didn’t want me to hurt my hands in any way! Ha-ha. 🙂 I love everything there is about color and design and even taught myself HTML when I was 13 years old.

How long have you been selling your own handmade clothes and tote bags?
Oki tokki just opened July 16, but it was a work in progress for more than a year before officially opening. I first designed a T-shirt for my classmates in our Korean class in fall 2008. After that, I realized the lack of apparel featuring Korean 한글 (hangul, Korean writing) that were design-oriented, educational and cute — that were also eco-friendly and handmade, too. So in 2009, I started scrounging money together for supplies and began to work out my ideas into designs. I came up with the bilingual pun oki tokki for the name and ran with it. Then it was just designing and coding the website and, well, here we are!

Do you consider okitokki a job or a hobby?
Oki tokki is definitely a job. I hold myself and everything I create to high standards and professionalism, just like other companies [do]. But it is one of the things I love the most. I love being able to get out of the bed in the morning with a new idea, and that someone somewhere else in the world just might like it too.

What would you be doing for a living if you weren’t doing oki tokki?
Well, oki tokki is just starting out so it isn’t my living just yet! I currently do graphic & web design on the side.

What are your hobbies?
I love playing board games, Go Stop [a Korean card game], writing and music. Music is a big part of my life as well, and when I’m not at the computer, I’m usually fiddling around with my guitar, trying to learn a new song or even write one! I also love learning languages and am currently studying Korean and Japanese.

What are your inspirations?
I am heavily inspired by language. It’s just amazing to be able to learn something that broadens your world view, to be able to communicate your thoughts and feelings in a different way… Even something as simple as word choices are so peculiar. Just one word could change the entire mood of a sentence. Despite barely speaking any Korean growing up, I am very thankful to my mother that she taught me how to read and write 한글 (hangul) at such a young age so that I could build on it later.

I am also inspired by East Asia, particularly Korea and Japan. I am half-Korean so I am inspired by my heritage and designing is a way to help me learn and get closer to my culture. I am also inspired by Japan because I grew up with Sailor Moon and comics. I know that the two countries have a long history with each other, but I hope that with my art and linguistic research I can help people overcome differences from the past and foster good relationships.

What are your favorite foods?
My Korean favorite food list always long, but I’ll try to shorten it: 자장면 (jajangmyeon), 만두 (mandu, dumplings), 순대볶음 (sundaebokkeum), 비빔밥 (bibimbab), 비빔냉면 (bibim naengmyun), 라볶이 (rabokki, a combo of ramen and dukkbokki), 오댕국 (odaeng guk, fish cake soup).

As for others, I love Thai food — the thick rice noodles! I could eat them all day — dim sum, biscuits and gravy — I am truly from the South — miso eggplant and sushi!

What do you like to cook?
Recently, I’ve been cooking a lot of miso spaghetti! I love Japanese-Italian fusion pastas. I usually add mushrooms and eggplant to my miso spaghetti when I cook it. I love cooking in general, but I hate the cleanup. I think on my list of hated household chores, doing the dishes is No. 1. I don’t have a dishwasher so it’s all by hand!

Who are your favorite singers/musicians?
I have so many, and they constantly change as I am introduced to new artists. So I will list some of the artists I’ve been listening to recently by language:

  • Korean: 이정현 (Lee Jung Hyun; her much older works. I can’t get enough of it even now), Loveholic, Nell and Ibadi.
  • English: Bic Runga, Sophie Zelmani, The Weepies, Michael Bublé and Tori Amos.

What kind of books do you like to read?
I love YA Fantasy novels (see YesAsia). One of my favorite authors is Francesca Lia Block, and I’ve been very loyal since youth. I also like books that are on design and crafting, but recently I haven’t had the time to read as much as I’d like. Whenever I get a chance, I usually go through my Korean learning books that I’ve collected over the years.

What are your favorite movies?
Again, I have so many, but I’ll organize a few by language.

  • Japanese: Hayao Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle, Kiki’s Delivery Service and My Neighbor Totoro.
  • Korean: 싸이보그지만 괜찮아 (I’m a Cyborg, but that’s OK), 고양이를 부탁해 (Take Care of My Cat) and 과속 스캔들 (Speedy Scandal).
  • French: L’Auberge Espagnole and Le Fabuleux Destin D’Amélie Poulain (otherwise known as Amélie).
  • English: Boondock Saints, Good Will Hunting, MirrorMask and old Disney films.

What is your blood type?
O-positive!

Aein is offering my readers a discount. For free shipping, enter the coupon code KOREAFORNIA in the “Note From Buyer” box at okitokki.etsy.com or during PayPal checkout at okitokki.com. The shipping amount will be refunded through PayPal after your purchase. This offer expires Aug. 1, 2010.

4 Comments

  1. great interview, love the bunny tote!

  2. Great concept with language and art infused.Ambition brings another voice of connection between worlds.Continued success and creative design.

  3. I support the banning of disposable plastic bags. It is time to use <a href="http://www.rainbowpolybag.com/&quot; rel="nofollow">biodegradable plastic bags</a> to help mother nature. This will also save us money since many establishments collect a fee for every plastic used.

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