Desiree // Love for Japan and All Things Analogue

Desiree // Love for Japan and All Things Analogue

We are excited to share the first Love for Analogue interview with our Bk retailer in Europe! Desiree owns Cafe Analog in the Netherlands; an online shop surrounded by a vibrant analogue community. I have loved watching her host Stationery Cafes with passionate like-minded stationery enthusiasts. It's one of my dreams to attend her Stationery Cafe someday:) I hope you enjoy getting to know her more and have a chance to check out what she is up to! If you are in Europe, definitely check out her online store. I am hoping that it will be easier for you to access our BK original items through Cafe Analog as well as their awesome stationery collections from all over the world! 


My name is Desiree Oude Groothuis. I am 57 years old, married to my best friend, and a mother to my daughter Kelli who is 29 and pregnant (yay so happy my first grandchild)! I live in the Netherlands, 20 minutes from Amsterdam in a small village called Huizen (43k inhabitants).

Since 1998, I have owned a successful business in children’s entertainment called Alles Kids ( We specialize in entertainment and activities for youths in addition to creating inspiring events for the whole family. We provide services at business-to-business events such as: baby and toddler care, children’s entertainment, and workshops with activities for large groups of children ages 0-16 years old. 

My whole life I have had a deep-rooted interest in Japan and its culture. It began as a child when I fell in love with kawaii artifacts, and as an adult I immersed myself in all the books and film documentaries that were available. This enthusiasm further developed after Memoirs of a Geisha was released. I was mostly intrigued by the culture, spirituality, and perfection in everything. My biggest dream came true in April of 2017 when I traveled to Tokyo with my daughter Kelli for 2 weeks.

Why analogue?
I need to visually see things and write them down on paper to remember them well. Flipping through the pages to find what I need makes me happy. Writing is also therapeutic for me as it is a great outlet to eliminate negative feelings and refresh my mind. The process gives me clarity.

How This All Started

It all began in 2008 when I became one of the first individuals to post-cross from the Netherlands. The goal was to allow anyone to send and receive postcards from all over the world. For each postcard sent, you would receive one back from a random post-crosser from across the globe. This post-crossing revolution created quite the buzz that you are familiar with today. I enjoyed the fact that you could meet people from all over the world by simply writing a card. Shortly after, I met different Japanese friends online through the Post-crossing Forum and bulletin boards. I took on pen-paling and wrote hundreds of cards and letters which led to amazing relationships especially with women from Japan. I have had the pleasure of meeting some of them, and they have come to visit me in the Netherlands as well.

During my youth, I kept a diary from about 12 to18 years old but life happened. With all the demands of motherhood, journaling became a thing of the past. However in 2011, I discovered Traveler’s Notebook. This new encounter brought me back to where I had left my heart, and reignited my passion for writing, drawing, cutting, and pasting. I journaled about my trips and vacations, but it also included my daily planning along with many lists. I loved how customizable it was! I could make it my own exclusive life carrier. Since then I have it with me wherever I go.

Not many people knew about Traveler's Notebook back then. Through many different Facebook groups that I started about journaling, I met other like-minded people. Meanwhile, I discovered different worlds existed about paper, pens, penmanship, covers, inserts, and stationery that evolved around the TN. I was mesmerized by it all but was especially impressed with Japanese stationery. It embodied the love of paper, and the quality and authenticity really spoke to me.

Desiree's Analogue System

1. Travelers Notebook Regular - 2014 Brown Narita Airport Edition that goes everywhere with me. (I got it through a friend that went to Japan that year). This is the one with the shiny brown leather that I really prefer over the new ones. It's well used and bruised, and it contains my entire private life. It contains a vertical calendar diary and 2 grid/dotted inserts.

2. Travelers Notebook Regular
- 2017 The Tokyo Train Station Edition ( a Japanese friend sent me this one). This is the Cafe Analog book. It has information about everything that pertains to the webshop/community.

3. MD Notebook B6 slim - My book of quotes, simple journaling, and little secrets. I love the size of this one for journaling. I have a leather nude cover for it that ages really nicely too!

4. Leuchtturm A5 in Olive green - I really enjoy the paper and larger size for journaling that requires a bigger space. It's ideal for making spreads, writing monthly check-ins for our #PROJECTME15 journaling, and Cafe Analog writing challenges.

5. Vacation journals - I usually make separate TN inserts when I return back home from traveling.

I have been doing this for ages, so there is quite a stack of them already! I keep them all in the TN archive binders. While on vacation, I take a stack of daily dated envelopes with me (enough for the whole trip). At night I put every piece of ephemera I collected for that particular day in the envelope. On the outside of the envelope, I write the highlights of the day. This makes it very easy to create a travel journal after returning without forgetting the why, when, and where pertaining to the trip.

6. Junk journal - I have a TN insert that was made by a friend where I glue in all the thank you notes that come with packages, happy mail, or whatever. Yes, there are a couple from Eunice and Wakako in there that I cherish!


Japan 2017

During my trip to Japan in 2017, I had interesting meetings and discussions with artists, designers, and shop owners. I also had the pleasure of spending time with other stationery lovers at Bunbougu Cafe. This led me to the realization that there was a deeper meaning that led me to love Japan apart from just beautiful stationery.

I found a deep sense of spirituality at the temples, shrines, and in the parks. I developed an even deeper appreciation of Japanese life, culture, and the symbolism behind it all. For some strange reason I feel so at home and safe there; like I belong there.

I was so inspired by the events that transpired during those two weeks that I went home with a head full of ideas. One night, about a week after returning home I couldn't sleep. I got out of bed, sat down with a notebook and a pen, and that's when Cafe Analog was born. I wanted to pioneer one more time and start something new; something that I so strongly believed in. My Dutch business, post-crossing, Facebook, and my first Instagram account allowed me to have had a bigger network, fresh knowledge, and contacts. All these resources gave me the insight to start up something new. 

Now 2019

Two years and twelve Stationery Cafes later, we have a lively community and an online webshop (Cafe Analog) that sends out numerous packages all over the world. We just reached the point that Baum-kuchen is ready to share their original artifacts with us through our webshop. I have always looked up to Baum-kuchen in a big way!

Recently, I’ve noticed that I’m lacking the time to write and journal as much as I did before. Running two businesses is kind of overwhelming at times. We are trying to sell Alles Kids so I can run Cafe Analog full time. However this August, I am becoming grandma to a granddaughter, and I can already foresee some time management issues.

Despite the lack of time, I will always remain very enthusiastic and passionate about my work, my beliefs, and my hobbies. I can totally lose myself in letterpress stationery, handmade washi paper, beautiful fountain pens, and gorgeous leather products. I feel the need to share that love with people that appreciate it as much as I do.

Another mission that is very close to my heart is to support female entrepreneurs and small businesses. For example, most of the stamps we carry at Cafe Analog are made by women I really believe in. I love that they can use their talents for a better life, and together we can share and spread analogue love around the world. I believe women should support each other!

My personal belief/motto/philosophy
My personal motto is: If you can dream it, you can do it. Where there is a will there is a way!

To me, "A life well lived and loved" means CARPE DIEM: Seize the day. That sentiment embodies beliefs such as: treat people like you want to be treated, use chances and opportunities, grow in yourself and in your relationships, don't sit and wait, get everything out of life, make mistakes, keep trying, get out there. Be honest with yourself and the people around you even if it makes you less popular, try your best, and enjoy the little things!

In the end, I believe those will count the most.

You can find Desiree at:
Instagram: @cafeanalog17
BK Products mentioned or shown in Desiree's story:


  • Rosamond Jourdan: April 05, 2022
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    So wonderful to read your story Desiree. I really enjoyed it and can relate to your love of Japan and Japanese stationery. I also have that love and hope one day to visit Japan. I am so happy and lucky to have a few Baum-Kuchen products and treasure them so very much. Thank you for this inspirational editorial.

  • Sasja: June 13, 2020
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    Thank you for a great interview with a fantastic person!

  • Corine: July 07, 2019
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    I enjoyed reading this article so much! I am one of the lucky one who has been attending some of Cafe Analogs Stationery Cafes and meeting Desiree there.
    I can only say that Desiree has been a big inspiration for me and encouraged me to start journaling and share (some of) my work. Also the challenges that Cafe Analog offers in #projectme19 keep me inspired to play with the beautiful papers Washi tapes and stamps.

  • Roksanna Stephens Anderson: July 03, 2019
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    Lovely article. Now I know a bit about you, your passions, your work. Thank you !

  • Desiree: July 03, 2019
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    Thank you so much for making such a authentic portrait of me and Cafe Analog. We are so proud to be in this special Analaogue Community as your partner! I hope people get inspired!

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