Lucky Things Inspire: Sonoko of Shepherds London

For long time Mr.H and me have loved things from Japan. We finally made it out to Tokyo earlier in the year. The other month I discovered photos of Sonoko’s Made in Japan Monpe trousers on Instagram. They’re traditional workwear trousers. Although already a busy mum, Sonoko decided to start distributing these Japanese made trousers in the UK. So, she set up Shepherds London. Here’s what Sonoko had to say to Lucky Things about her love of London, art therapy for kids and her friends’ amazing cooking …

Hi Sonoko, tell us about the three favourite things about where you live? We live in Kensal Green in North West London.We love the community spirit on our street.  We look out for each other. The Graceland Cafe, on College Road NW10 offers the most amazing salad. They also they have yoga and other classes in the yard behind the cafe.  Queens Park, with its playground and cafe, is the oasis for families in the area. I live with my husband and our two children, an eight-year old and a four-year old.

What encouraged you to set up Shepherds London?  I wanted to support my hometown’s great traditional industry (Kasuri textile and Monpe trousers) and to market it for our generation
worldwide, as I believe in its quality and design.img_20160522_221009

What challenges did you have to overcome to get it going?
The current exchange rate, especially after Brexit. I’m having trouble keeping the retail price as same as before to be honest. But I haven’t changed it!

Do you have another day job? I’m a freelancer. I do Stage Set Design and this is my main job, designing panto sets for Millfield Theatre every year.  I’m also a GCSE Art teacher 2 days a week.

What is the inspiration for Shepherds London? I wanted to import a true Japan quality product, which isn’t yet available in the UK.  I am proud to be an exclusive Kurume Kasuri Monpe seller in the UK.

dsc_0656What’s the best thing about setting up Shepherds London? And what’s
the worst thing? 
Meeting amazing people through selling Monpe trousers.  My customers are enjoying the Monpe so much, and their positive feedback always make me happy.  The worst thing?  As I am a online seller, it has certain difficulties to tell the feeling of the cotton, and how it gets softer and comfier over washes.  This is something I am working on at the moment.
What advice do you have for parents and carers who want to encourage
their little people to be feel good about themselves? 
My eight-year old daughter had a difficult time in the year 3, and we have been going through art therapy.  Ever since she was born, I believed she was a happy, creative and bright child and didn’t notice her little anxiety early on when it was developing in year 2, and early year 3.  I am very ashamed of myself for not noticing those early signs properly.  This is my big regret.  So what I could have done differently was take any early signs of anxiety more seriously and reassure my child fully each time.

That couldn’t have been easy for you all. What motto helps you to get through any tough times? Appreciate the love and support you have.

What’s your favourite childhood memory? Jumping into the river and swimming for hours right next to my house in the deep countryside of Japan.

What have your children taught you about lifeLove is unlimited.  Happiness is multiplied when you share.


Sonoko with her family

You always look lovely in your photos. What are three of your favourite items in your wardrobe? My Monpe collection, without this I don’t have thing to wear at work,
on my children’s school pick up, weekends, and holidays! Cotton camisoles from Muji and dresses from & Other Stories.

Juggling a business and two other part-time jobs must keep you busy. What are your three tips for staying organised as a working parent? To write down to do list of the week and put it on the door.  It works better than typing it online for me.

We all need a bit of me-time every now and then. What would your dream weekend be if you’re on your own?  Going to Istanbul on my own for a weekend and exploring the little streets.
And if you’re with your family? Going to Highlands in Scotland and enjoying a nice walk together.
If you were given time and a deal to write a book, what would it be about? My friends’ delicious home foods recipe book.  For example my Syrian friend always offer magical dishes from her native Damascus.  I would love to go and see the gorgeous city in the future, when the crazy war ends.

Tell us about the tunes you’re listening to at the moment?
I’m feeling Autumnal so I am listening to the Jazzanova album called In Between.

What grown-up tunes do you enjoy playing to your children? Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is a Japanese female pop singer and her fashion, music videos and songs are really cool and for my children. Try her song Pon Pon Pon!

What tunes do you remember listening to growing up? The Beatles as my dad is a big fan. Most Japanese in their sixties are!  A Day In The Life blew my mind forever.

And finally, what are your three lucky things (some other things you love, apart from your family and loved ones)?  North Cyprus. We visit here once a year, the sun, warm people and the slow time there always make me happy. My home in the countryside in Japan. I can fully-charge my energy every time when I am there. London. The world in one place.  My friends are from all around the world and we appreciate the cultures each brings to this wonderful
city.  I am so happy my children are growing up in London.


Thanks Sonoko for being part of the Lucky Things Inspire series. You can check out her Japanese Monpe trousers at (spot Zoë from Dress Like a Mum).

You can also follow Shepherds London over at:

Instagram: @Sonoko_shepherds
I hope the Inspire series brightens up your week. Make sure you check out the other posts in the Lucky Things Inspire series, there are lots of inspiring people who will be appearing on the blog over the coming months. Previous interviews in the Lucky Things Inspire series have featured Joanna from Raising Women, Yvonne from KemiKids, and MAMA by Rachael Kellett.
All photos used in this blog post have been provided by Sonoko and published with her permission.
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