Suginami Izumi second’s thoughts on the equalto
The thoughts on “working” of the producing facility, Izumi(Suginami Izumi Second), will be shared in this page.
Interviewee is Ms. Watanabe from NPO Izumi, Support for continuous employment – Type B services, which produces “Bookmark”(a bookmark made of felt ball) and “Mokemoke” (a unique mascot) are one of the products from equalto.
Izumi distributes products to many retailers. How did you settle up the connections with retailers and establish know-how of such those products?
Ms. Watanabe: At the first when I first started to work at Izumi, supporting members let the service-users (*) go, like let them produce what they want to make. In terms of retailers, we did not have any certain connection with them. In the result, the products were not well-managed as to design, functionality, and productivity and sales were not very stable. I thought, “we have to change!” To have stable sales, we started business/sales activities and and started to buy better materials for products. Now, we always consider this question in product planning: “Do we want to pay for it?” If the quality doesn’t meet the standards, we tell the service-users “People won’t pay for it.” and ask them make it again.
*People with disabilities who come to the workplace
equalto team staff: You all are aware of customers’ demands. You might have worked hard to expand the market. Was there any episode of it?
Ms. Watanabe: When we started to expand the market, it didn’t go very well. So first, we visited local events and exchanged business cards with many people. While we continued those kinds of steady actions, some buyers evaluated our products highly and started to sell them in their shops. Also, as we expand our market, it was directly affecting service-users’ motivation of work. For example, if they see the products they made at shops or department stores, they get excited so much. They go to the stores to buy their own products, even though they can buy those at the work place. Products in the shops make them be proud of their work more than before and lead to the increase of their motivation.
equalto team staff: We also feel happy if we see the goods that we made at stores, don’t we? Staffs in Izumi, like you, seem very active to make new products and expanding the market.
Ms. Watanabe: Before I joined Suginami Izumi, I was working at an ordinary company. Once my child was born, my circumstances have changed. I wanted to try something new, and got a social worker license on a correspondence course. The reason why it was a social worker was because I remembered that I used to get involved on welfare a lot when I was a student. Also, I wanted to try working on bigger problems in the society. Now, I really enjoy working with service-users and staff members at Izumi.
equalto team staff: Sounds good.
Why did you start joining equalto project? Also, were there any changes or something you noticed by joining equalto?
Ms. Watanabe: Someone just introduced equalto and I decided to join it since it sounds good chance to get level-up for Izumi. The equalto products called “Bookmark” and “Mokemoke” were created here. Once again I realized that I want to continue producing products to make customer think and buy those products because “the goods have good designs or functions,” not because “the goods were made by PwDs.” We got more aware of quality than before.
equalto team staff: We’re happy to hear that kind of impression by joining equalto.
How would you like to work for equalto project in the future?
Ms. Watanabe: I want more people to know the meaning of equalto’s activities. Especially, I want more designers and companies to know about PwDs and about facilities for PwDs through equalto project and products. Those people such as designers or companies have lots of knowledge and connections, so I would like them to make the full use of those resources to contribute to the society.
equalto team staff: That’s right! Let’s work on it together!