GJPWN Interview series Vol. 1
Interview with Japanese and German women on the theme of "working"
GJPWN (German Japanese Professional Women's Network) introduces women working in a Japanese-German business fields in a series. This time, we would like to introduce Ms. Rei Nakajima, who launched the natural cosmetics brand [REY TOKYO] in Dusseldorf, Germany. We asked her about her experience of starting a business in Germany, which is a foreign country as a Japanese, her thoughts on launching her own brand, and her vision for the future.
After working for a toy maker and a translation / interpretation company, she launched a natural cosmetics brand [REY TOKYO] in Dusseldorf, Germany in 2019, focusing on ancient Japanese beauty wisdom, natural materials, and advanced German technology.
■ Please tell us how the cosmetics brand [REY TOKYO] was established.
The first problem I had when I came to Germany from Japan was my own dry skin. There were times when neither the skin care products I brought from Japan nor the products I bought in Germany fit my skin. Through these experiences of my own, I came up with the idea, "How about I make my own skin care cosmetics that incorporate elements of ancient Japanese camellia oil and rice bran that can withstand the dry environment of Germany?"
At a toy maker I used to work for, I experienced a series of processes from product planning to manufacturing, and realized that I could make use of that experience in the cosmetics industry as well. In addition, I have been working with various clients and seen business structures at the translation / interpretation company. So I was able to start my business without much hesitation in entering the new business area, which is cosmetics.
I like cosmetics, and as a hobby, I have been trying various products. It wasn't something I started thinking about in business or entrepreneurship, but rather I started this business based on what I like and am curious about. I also worked as a graphic designer when I was in my twenties. I have always liked creating works and wanted to start such creating business on my own.
■ I get the impression that your business has started very smoothly despite the new challenge of the industry. Still, have you had a hard time?
Of course there are many. I started from scratch by myself, and it was an unknown business area. At first, there was no one to rely on, so I contacted many companies in the Japanese and German cosmetics industry.
When creating the brand image of the product to be launched, I was wondering whether to make it Made in Japan or Made in Germany by Japanese. Fortunately, a representative of a Japanese cosmetics company kindly gave me advice on the industry and the differences between the Japanese and German cosmetics businesses. This is where I decided on my own direction.
However, it was difficult to materialize it. As it's a new business field for me, I thought that I should make a proper concept at the initial stage. I asked for professional advice, but it took me a long time and repeatedly went through trials and errors phase before I could meet someone who understood my business model and ideas. And here again, I was helped by personal connections at the end.
■ We are facing challenging time due to Corona pandemic. I think it was difficult to have face-to-face business negotiations due to local restriction rules.
I agree. Since the start, I have rarely had face-to-face meetings or business negotiations. Actually, the "communication skills" I have learned at the translation / interpretation company was very useful here. Translation and interpretation companies often do business with clients at distances. At such times, the ability to convey information so that anyone can understand it is very important, and I feel that such things are also useful doing business in the corona pandemic.
■ What do you value as a manager?
It is a personal connection. I started the cosmetics business by myself, and I have achieved this by meeting people with whom I have a good relationship at the right time. The other is gratitude and appreciation. I try to connect daily events to "appreciation." It's my personal motto.
■ Where do you find it worthwhile?
Whether it's translation or cosmetics, you'll discover new fields that you can't know on your own. It's very rewarding to meet and talk to professionals and work with them. Learning new things stimulates curiosity, which gives energy and the power to move forward.
This is something I noticed when I started a business. After many years of working in companies, I seem to have a habit of not working to the maximum level of what I can. However, by starting a business owning my own brand, and taking full responsibility for myself, it is different. I give 100% to what I do on business. This way working is even more rewarding to me. I am fully satisfied with my products and can recommend it with full confidence.
■ Please tell us your vision for the future
Currently, I sell two products, facial cleanser (which produces foam) and all-in-one beauty essence. In the future, I would like to start shampoo products.
A facial cleanser and a beauty essence are created to support busy women to have beautiful skin every day. Target age 35 years and over, anti-aging. Especially recommended for those who have dry skin. Please visit my site to explore the products. You can also purchase it online. https://reytokyo.com/