A freelance announcer well-known on television and on radio, Rika Sueyoshi, has been a longtime user of andu amet's bags since the brand's inception.
Today, we had the pleasure of interviewing her.
-- You're looking amazing today as usual!
Today, I've paired a People Tree shirt and denim with an AGNES NORDENHOLTS long vest. It's a one-of-a-kind piece designed by a Berlin designer, meticulously calculated to minimize fabric waste. And of course, I'm carrying my beloved andu amet bag!
-- Thank you so much for choosing it; it suits you wonderfully!
I've been using this Baby Hug [Nile Black] since 2012, so it's been four years now, and I absolutely love it.
Initially, I used it as a handbag with the attached chain, but lately, I find myself using it more as a clutch. The high-quality leather might be why it goes well with any outfit. It matches today's casual style perfectly, but it also complements formal dresses, making it versatile for parties and events.
Whenever I carry it, I always get compliments like "Where is that from?"
I liked the Baby Hug so much that I finally decided to order the Big Hug I've been dreaming of! This time, I'm going for the Nile Breeze color.
I've also used the pouches and tissue paper cases as gifts for my loved ones. I plan to slowly collect more pieces in the future.
-- That's wonderful to hear. What initially drew you to become a fan of andu amet?
When the brand had just started, I met the founder, Ms. Samejima, through a mutual friend. I saw the bag she was carrying, and I thought, "Wow, this is so lovely." And when I touched it, it felt truly amazing, and I couldn't let go of it.
Additionally, after hearing the story behind it, I felt a strong connection and became a fan. I've also visited Africa quite often for work, and what I've seen and heard there has become the foundation of who I am today.
-- Which places in Africa have you visited?
One of the most memorable trips was when I went to Mount Kilimanjaro in 2004 as part of the TV show "Sekai Fushigi Hakken" (Discovering the World's Wonders) as a mystery hunter. I visited to check the current status of the glacier at the summit, which was said to be melting due to global warming.
Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa, standing at 5,895 meters above sea level. Despite losing consciousness at around 5,500 meters, I somehow managed to reach the summit. When I actually saw it, I was truly shocked: only about 10% of the glacier's original size remained. I had heard the term "global warming" many times before, but it was only at that moment, seeing the severity of the damage firsthand, that it truly sank in. At the same time, I realized that the consequences of our urban lifestyles, surrounded by convenience, were hitting the people in the local communities who lived simply, and it hit me that we needed to address this issue.
The story behind it was that, right at the beginning of our climb at an altitude of around 1,600 meters, we encountered a small local elementary school where the children were engaged in reforestation activities. They were aware that the glacier on Mount Kilimanjaro was melting. For them, the melting glacier was a matter of life and death, and they were doing their best to prevent it.
Thanks to my work as an announcer, I had the opportunity to witness the world's current situation with my own eyes. And my mission was to convey this to people all over Japan. That's what I thought as I descended the mountain.
-- Alongside your career as an announcer, you also serve as the representative director of the General Incorporated Association Ethical Association, and you actively engage in social and environmental issues. Is that how it came about?
Well, I'm not always doing such complicated things.
For instance, at the Ethical Community Nights we organize every two months, we enjoy natural wines and delicious food while having fun conversations about social and environmental issues. At our Fair Trade courses held twice a year, we propose practical actions even for people who didn't know much about Fair Trade before. Instead of saying things like, "This isn't eco-friendly" or "This isn't Fair Trade," it's easier to spread awareness when we propose activities that people can enjoy while making a positive impact. In fact, students who have taken our courses have gone on to initiate new actions on their own, and new projects have emerged among people who met at our gatherings. I feel that this ripple effect is continually expanding.
-- That's wonderful. What is the source of your incredible energy?
I've been fortunate to visit various countries in the past, and wherever I go, I find different histories, cultures, and more to explore, which excites me. In that sense, I would say travel is the source of my energy.
Interacting with locals, I often experience culture shocks when I realize that what we consider common sense in Japan is not necessarily the norm in other parts of the world. It's fascinating, and being in front of nature's grandeur, I'm reminded of how small I am, which gives me the energy to take new steps forward. I want to continue traveling to different countries and drawing inspiration from those experiences.
-- Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful stories today, Rika-san. Your infectious smile is truly delightful. It was a pleasure talking with you. If you ever decide to visit Ethiopia, please do let us know.