Kazuyo Takeda, a Santa Barbara County resident, spent years as a designer for women’s clothing in New York City, Milan, and Tokyo until she took a 10-year break to raise her family of four. Parenthood ultimately brought Takeda back into designing, but this time, it was kitchen products informed by parenthood.
Takeda took her skills as a designer and her experiences as a parent to create Good Kitchen Products (GKP) — a company that aspires to incorporate style and sustainability into aprons and trash bags. Takeda said she aims “to create beautiful products, design-oriented products,” that are both practical and sustainable. GKP is a female-immigrant-owned company that uses local artisanship and sustainable materials to produce aprons and trash bags.
“As a full-time mom, you’re standing [in the kitchen]; you spend a lot of time in the kitchen preparing food for [the] babies, and it’s a lot of work in the kitchen,” Takeda said. “During those years, I started seeing like some products are missing. I wanted to use certain items in the kitchen, but they don’t really exist on the market. And that’s how I started having the ideas for for GKP and aprons.”
According to Takeda, Santa Barbara’s “energy and positivity, and welcoming [nature], creativity, and innovations,” made the county the perfect place to begin her journey of entrepreneurship.
In 2017, Takeda was inspired to start making aprons and sharing them with her friends and family. After positive feedback, Takeda started slowly expanding operations. In 2019, Takeda officially registered GKP as a business.
As an avid fan of Chef’s Table, Takeda thought why not just try sending the aprons to some of her favorite stars, including Nancy Silverton, Grant Achatz, Niki Nakayama, and Dan Barber. All four chefs ordered her products, gave her feedback, and supported her new business. Takeda said it was “an amazing experience.” The chefs’ support and social-media presence combined with Takeda’s innovative spirit and design acumen allowed GKP to court a wider audience.
Despite all the progress the company has made, Takeda still takes the time to personally check each apron and each product before it’s shipped to the customer.
Recently, Takeda released sustainable and innovatively designed trash bags.
“I always felt guilty about using plastics for trash bags,” Takeda said. “I wanted to change this whole experience of trash bags so that you feel good about using it, because you know it’s going to biodegrade.”
As the company is expanding operations and releasing new products, Takeda said she takes inspiration in the small, everyday beauties around her, such as “fruits [and] flowers.” Takeda said she hopes that her customers take inspiration from the aprons for their work in the kitchen.
“I think when you put on a nice apron, a beautiful apron … people get inspired by wearing it and they feel good,” Takeda said. “It’s part of your daily clothing, almost like an outfit.”