RealVoice #3 It is important to connect your love of the customer to the customer’s need.
"It is important to connect your love of the customer to the customer’s need after starting a business."
Kiyoko Akashi is the founder of “Kaze no Okurimono”, a specialty shop for Kurume Kasuri in "Kurume Kasuri", originally from Chikugo, a southern part of Fukuoka prefecture in Japan.
This specialty store has been open for seventeen years. Now Ms. Kiyoko Akashi, who started the store, and Ms. Yukari Akashi, her daughter and the current shop manager, are doing business together.
Today, we interviewed her about what is important in order to maintain one’s shop in Japan.
I had nothing before opening my shop.
Kiyoko: seventeen years ago, I started this shop when I was forty-six years old.
I didn’t have any special skills, experience or good sense.
Nothing, Nothing and all of Nothing…
All I had was twenty years of experience as a housewife and a vacant place for a shop.
I thought I had nothing – but later I discovered what my strengths are. I believe my customers helped me improve this skill.
“My strength is that I feel that I like people, and I want to make people happy.”
I have a personality that enjoys making others happy. I have only realized this recently.
Customers in Japan prefer to have a genuine item. In addition to this tendency, it’s important to have love for the customer.
Kiyoko Akashi told me the following in a letter:
Kiyoko: Customers in Japan prefer to have a genuine item. In the case of starting a restaurant, this means “flavor”, while in retail this means “product”.
In addition to this tendency, I think it’s important to have love for the customer.
For this, one must pursue being genuine.
Love can’t be seen, but it’s something travels from person to person.
This kind of love is one-sided. So, it is essential to know what the customer’s needs are.
Is the customer male or female? What about about their age? Their needs change depending on location.
Even if the item one sells is genuine, or one has a true customer love, make sure one is not imposing values onto the customer in order to feel self-satisfaction.
It is important to continually grow and change according to the needs of customers.
At her shop, customers visit from all over Japan and buy order-made items such as cloths and knick-knacks, choosing a favorite pattern and cloth.
Here is advice to someone who wants to start a shop in Japan
Loving the customer will pull attention from people in Japan. Word-of-mouth will expand people’s knowledge of your work.
There is the term “Omotenashi”, or “hospitality” in Japan. Please try to express hospitality alongside one’s love for the customer. Believe that how much one delights the customer will turn into sales and profit.
This is the way to open the doors of success.
Official website of Kaze no Okurimono, a specialty store for Kurume Kasuri
Ms. Kiyoko Akashi’s specialty shop, Kaze no Okurimono provides around 300 different kinds of Kurume Kasuri to meet customer’s wishes. Fans of Kurume Kasuri visit and order from all over Japan, in order to own original goods.
She thought “I have nothing” before starting a business. That was not true, but everyone thinks the same at some point. She shows us this with her seventeen years of experience. Then she shared how to connect with customers, which she discovered through real experiences.
What do you think of this tip from Ms. Kiyoko Akashi’s experiences?
Kaze no Okurimono is a specialty store for items made in the style of “Kurume Kasuri”, a traditional craft from Kurume city. The items Kaze no Okurimono sells cloth, fabrics, bags, hats, stoles, fashion accessories, interior items and so on.
Kaze no Okurimono offers over three hundred types of cloth. People can pick up what they like or tailor their own clothes, such as dresses, men’s-clothing, kid’s wear, Kimonos, mats, goodwill and so on.
Ms. Kiyoko Akashi, and Ms. Yukari Akashi.
Managers of Kaze no Okurimono, a specialty store for Kurume Kasuri and Japanese knick-knacks. Founded in 2004.
Address : Center of Chu-o Ichibangai shopping street, 31-7 Higashimachi, Kurume city, Fukuoka prefecture, Japan.
For more the details about Kurume Kasuri, please check out the website by Kurume Kasuri Union using automatic translate.