How I found my ikigai

Have you heard the word ikigai? Ikigai (pronounced Ick-ee-guy) is a Japanese term that translates loosely to ‘reason for being’. It’s about finding passion through purpose and aligning happiness with busyness – a rare combination in today’s fast-paced world. I read about ikigai in a recent article and it really resonated with my journey. In this article, I’ll talk more about what ikigai means, how it relates to the dog&boy brand and why it’s an essential ingredient for business success.

All about ikigai

Over the past decade, we’ve seen a global shift in lifestyle goals. More than ever, people are striving to balance the spiritual with the practical. That means shunning traditional ideas of success, like a steady 9 to 5 job, in favour of more meaningful pursuits. It’s no longer enough to merely survive. People today want to thrive. We want to create something meaningful. We want to leave a legacy. We want to bounce out of bed feeling excited about the work day ahead – not counting the hours until we clock off. This is where ikigai comes in. Ikigai is about finding the balance between:

  • What you love
  • What you’re good at
  • What the world needs… and
  • What people will pay for.

It’s not easy, but it’s definitely possible. I’ve found it with dog&boy.

The ikigai behind dog&boy

If you’ve read about how I started the dog&boy brand, you’ll know it’s a story of true love – my love for beautiful scarves. Scarves have always been ‘my thing’. I’ve been obsessed with them for as long as I can remember – so love was the easy part of my ikigai. ‘What the world needs’ was also clear. I’d spent years shopping at designer stores, searching for scarves that combined quality fabrics and original prints that made me look and feel amazing. I found some rare gems over the years, but there was an obvious gap in the market. The world needed more beautiful scarves – and with prices tags of $500+ for some high-end brands, I knew people were willing to pay for them.

The missing piece of my ikigai puzzle, ‘What you’re good at’, was a little more problematic. When I started the dog&boy brand I had no experience in fashion and no idea about running a business. I knew I loved scarves and that there was a market, but I had to learn to be good at business. I couldn’t have done that without passion. And, of course, lots of coffee.

Learning fuelled by love

My vision for dog&boy has always been to create meaningful things, not just pretty things. I knew I wanted to design beautiful scarves that told a story. I knew I wanted to give back to the community and support causes close to my heart. I knew I wanted to make women feel special and bring a touch of luxury to everyday life. This vision kept me going and helped get dog&boy off the ground. It’s what inspired me to learn about business and fill the gaps in my ikigai – from sourcing fabrics to finding manufacturers to setting up an online presence. It made the bad days bearable and, ultimately, it’s been the backbone of dog&boy’s success.

If you’re thinking of starting a business, or the seed of an idea is starting to grow, I think anything is possible when you find your ikigai. Yes, there will be tough times (it can take years for a start-up to turn a profit), but if you can see the bigger picture – and you’re madly in love with your idea – a little passion goes a long way.

I’m still learning about business every day and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for dog&boy – but I’m not just focused on the destination. I’m enjoying every minute of the journey. That’s how I know I’ve found my ikigai.

My ikigai is your ikigai

Everyone has their own ikigai, but ikigai can be infectious – especially when it comes to brands. Rather than choosing the cheapest, trendiest or fastest option, like we did in decades gone, consumers today are much more conscious. We align with brands that echo our values. This is one of my favourite things about dog&boy. By sharing stories, being authentic and focusing on timeless versatile designs, dog&boy attracts a loyal community of women who stand for the same things I do. Sure, we’re all obsessed with scarves, but it’s about so much more than being stylish. It’s about feeling special, appreciating life’s simple beauty, and finding something to smile about every day – even if it’s just a scarf. We all share a bit of the same ikigai. I think that’s a beautiful thing.

Have you found your ikigai?

Tell me all about your ikigai. Have you found it yet, or are you still searching? Share your stories in the comments below. I’d love to know what makes you tick!

Sonya xx


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2 commentaires

Thanks for sharing your experience with Ikigai, it is very inspiring even some years later! ^^
I’m in the journey to find my Ikigai, I hope to be as successfull as you were!

Xoxo ;)


Very inspiring Sonya, I love how the Japanese have the best words that sum up a feeling so beautifully. Much like the Japanese expression…wabi sabi…The beauty in the discordant. I have found my Ikigai with putting my artwork onto fabric. A twenty year dream coming a reality. It is not easy to make a dream a reality but as you put it, the journey is the experience which puts life and resonance into the final product and what makes our lives worth living. Very much seen in your beautiful work. I loved reading this post, thank you and thank you for being you!!!! Much :)xo

Aylie McDowall

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