Luxury business brings exclusive products from Japan to Yorkshire

Johnny Pawlik

Sheffield has welcomed a new retailer which stocks exclusive goods from Japanese producers.

Goods at Atelier Japan, based in a 300-year-old former toolmakersbuilding in Arundel Street, include handbags crafted by a former Samurai Sword producer, hand-painted traditional fans and intricately designed jewellery. 

The store has been six years in the making and is the brainchild of Johnny Pawlik, founder of ethical marketing company Mantra Media, and his business partner Masa Kuno.

Pawlik said: We saw these small family businesses in Japan – that had been around for 300, 500, even 1,000 years – struggling.

The domestic market there was shrinking because of the low birth rate; we wanted to do something about it.”

While Sheffield is known for making steel, Kyoto was a centre of traditional arts and crafts. Pawlik and Johnny and Kuno worked with the Kyoto Prefectural Government on the project.  

Pawlik added: We told them the building where our Sheffield store is is a former toolmaker building. The whole street used to be ateliers, or what we would call workshops.

They loved that heritage aspect and said Sheffield was like the UKs Kyoto.” 

Firstly an Atelier Japan e-commerce platform was launched, proving popular. Last year a physical store opened in a Kyoto hotel. 

Now the Sheffield store is expected to be in high demand, particularly among the citys international student population.

Most of the products on sale – from matcha tea to hand-painted ceramics, coasters and artwork – are not available to buy elsewhere in the UK.

Pawlik said: Many of the products are one of a kind. They cannot be made again because they were created from a particular clay that no longer exists, for example.

Weve been inundated with requests from people asking when we will open, what we have in stock and even if they could work in the shop. The Sheffield community has embraced this in an incredible way.”

The store opening has also created two jobs, with recruitment open for a part-time retail assistant and part-time retail manager.