Designing Through a Wabi-Sabi Lens: Meet Ann Chikahisa

Designing Through a Wabi-Sabi Lens: Meet Ann Chikahisa
Credit: Chikahisa Studio

Ann Chikahisa gives off an artsy, spiritual vibe, so it may surprise you that she worked in the corporate world for years before stepping into full-time jewelry design, creating bold, empowering pieces. Today, every piece of Chikahisa Studio jewelry is handmade with materials sourced from suppliers that prioritize sustainability and ethical practices. In her interview with Artisan Joy, Ann shares more about her journey to creative entrepreneurship. 

Tell us how Chikahisa Studio came to be.

It began as a hobby that turned into an obsession! There were jewelry, beads and wire all over my house. Eventually, I had to get a studio so I could separate my home life from work life. Besides, I ran out of tables and cabinets in my house for all the tools and supplies necessary to make my jewelry!

When did you realize that you could turn your hobby into a business?

It happened after one magical day. My friend proposed we have a trunk show at her house. We invited a bunch of friends to come over and see my work. I sold 68 pieces that day! It was exhilarating and gave me the confidence to build a business.

How do you define success for your business?

Success for me is being able to live an intentional life—one where my business can support me and a team financially, creatively and spiritually. I'm proud of how I've created a small business that supports women and other small businesses. I purposefully choose who I work with based on their values. My company is able to offer a living wage plus benefits. And I get to create beautiful, meaningful jewelry that connects me to the world. I am the luckiest person to be able to do what I love and be able to support myself and my team.

Credit: Chikahisa Studio

Where do you find inspiration for your work?

I find inspiration from my Japanese heritage and nature. I love finding new textures, shapes and patterns. And I'm especially intrigued with the wabi sabi philosophy. Wabi sabi is the beauty of imperfection. I find so much joy in how Mother Nature creates things. I can look at a decaying leaf and find so many interesting patterns in it. Or driftwood that's been tumbled in the sea.

What's one piece of advice you wish someone had given you when you first started your business?

To find your own unique voice. We all have it but it takes a lot of courage to step into and find it. Don't let anyone sway you from that voice once you find it. Being authentic to you is very powerful. Once I found my voice, I became more confident about my business. It gave me a sense of purpose.

Credit: Chikahisa Studio

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start selling their art or creative product?

Be passionate about what you're doing. You have to have the passion to get you through the tough times. And there will be many ups and downs being an entrepreneur!

What's something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?

I am a fanatical pickleball player! I started about two years ago and play three to five days a week. It offers everything—exercise, community and competition!

As creatives, we can be continuously creating and refining our art. How do you handle perfectionism?

Ah! Perfectionism is a killer. There's a fine line between perfectionism and improving a piece. You need to push the creative process as far as you can without overdoing a design or perfectionism. Some of those minute mistakes that you see most other people don't. Have the confidence to be done with a piece and not second guess yourself. This has helped me move beyond perfectionism.

Credit: Chikahisa Studio

What's something that surprised you about running a creative business?

It was discovering that the business side is also creative. I've learned how to do marketing, which can be very creative. I've learned how to use words to express my work as well as learn how to shoot photos and videos for social media. You wear many hats as an entrepreneur and I've acquired many new creative skills!

What’s your advice for handling the highs and lows of running a business?

Mindset is everything. Staying positive during the lows has helped me to move through the rough times. And often by staying positive, I would learn something about myself or my creative process.  For example, there have been slow sales periods, and I often would question why I was doing this. And what I learned is that  there is nothing else I would rather do. Designing and creativity feeds my soul and I wouldn't be me without it.

Has someone ever criticized your work? How did you handle it?

All the time! At first it can be hard to hear the criticism. And sometimes there are nuggets in the criticism that can help you be better. Listen carefully and take what resonates with you. If nothing does, leave it at the door. As you get stronger in your design voice, you'll know. The most important thing is: don't let someone's opinion destroy you. Keep going!

What's a cause you are passionate about?

I love the non-profit organization Dress For Success because it gives women opportunities to better themselves. Not all women have access to resources, and I believe by helping them with resources can only enhance their chances for success and economic independence.

Credit: Chikahisa Studio

Can you share the name of a supplier or vendor that you use for your business that you just loveone that makes running your business a bit easier? 

I love Shopify. It's my website platform, and it's grown over the years with me. You can start with a basic store, and as the business grows, you can modify it to suit your needs. Without Shopify, I wouldn't be able to sell successfully. 

What brings you joy?

Community. I love connecting with people and learning about them. Often times when I meet someone, we have a commonality like a mutual friend or interest. It blows my mind how small the world really is!

Thanks, Ann! You can learn more about her jewelry business at

Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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