Sun | Aug 20, 2017

A bag of art

Published:Sunday | November 6, 2016 | 11:00 AMChristopher Serju
Origami expert Sachi Shitara, business development consultant with Toyota Jamaica Limited, proudly shows off her creation of a shopping-gift bag made from two sheets of last Thursday’s Gleaner publication before adding the handles.
Sachi Shitara focuses on the job at hand.
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The artistry I found to be compelling as I witnessed the simplicity of the design process, Sachi Shitara chatting easily while creating my customised gift bag - in less than 10 minutes!

Two sheets from the day's Gleaner publication - my choice of the page highlighting the opening of the Peter Tosh Museum, some glue, two straw handles - fashioned into a work of art by the origami expert, while I sipped latte in the Toyota Coffee House. I had gone to the Toyota Jamaica Limited showroom and service centre at 93 Old Hope Road, St Andrew, allegedly to do an interview for an article about that facility.

Everything had gone well until branch manager Mick McGrane led the way upstairs to the cafÈ, where Sachi's handiwork caught my eye. The unique gift bag offerings, the Japanese national explained, is an extension of the customer service for clients who opt to spend time there while their vehicles are serviced or who pop in just for a steaming cup of java.

A purchase from the wide range of delectable offerings is packaged in these one-of-a-kind gift bags fashioned from a section of the day's broadsheet publication, but it's much more than just a shopping bag, according to Sachi.

"We have in Japan a customer-service philosophy called 'Omotenashi', where you treat customers like a guest at home. So at Toyota Jamaica, we have always provided customer service more than expectation for we are always trying to find something to make our customers go 'wow'," she told Arts & Education. "Our coffee shop venture is not about making money, but making our customers happy (and) treating them like family and friends."

Each day, Sachi checks The Gleaner publications for any Toyota Jamaica advertisements, which are her first choice for production material. This done, she then searches for pages with colourful and uplifting graphics, avoiding those that are lots of print.

The response from customers has been overwhelming as they marvel at the practical life extension of the sheets, which would, in all likelihood, end up being discarded if not for this artistic, recycling intervention.

Demand for the gift bags continues to grow, but sourcing adequate raw material is not an issue as the company sends on the papers purchased from a nearby vendor after they are read to the cafÈ, where they continue in a different format to serve in the information, education, and entertainment of Gleaner readers long afterwards.

The immediate joy generated by her simple creations is a constant source of pleasure for Sachi.

"I didn't know people loved it so much," she said with a smile.