Hiro Nakayama is taking her time to smell the flowers. She launched a business in the fragrance industry and is expanding it throughout Asia.
What’s your story?
I have always loved fragrance but never thought of a career in the industry. In October 2008, when I walked out of the courthouse after filing my divorce, I smelled the flowers and veggies at the farmers market in Brooklyn. It was a real joy! Soon after I learned that stress can cause anosmia and our sense of smell can be regained. It was then I decided to pursue a career in the fragrance industry. It was not an easy ride to land a position as the industry is very segregated. I networked heavily and found a gap between the front end and back office; the voice of consumer was unheard. There was also a need for smaller niche players to enter the Asian market but the perfumers and creators did not know how. In 2013, I launched Project Felicia, my own fragrance business, in New York, with the mission of bridging the world through fragrance. In 2014, a marketing role at MNC chemical company brought me to Singapore and I incorporated in Singapore last year. We took two niche brands to Shanghai in 2013, however the market was not ready. In addition to distribution, we run experiential events and workshops where we advocate active smelling. I think I have found my niche in the fragrance industry.
What excites you most about your industry?
The fragrance industry has been hitting the ceiling for quite sometime among big players. Now, with niche brands and other forms of fragrance emerging, consumers are exposed to a wide range of fragrance products and services and they are taking control of their choices. It is a growing industry, especially in Asia as we did not grow up wearing fragrance unlike our western counterparts. Another exciting factor about the industry is, while the industry has been known in the western world, we have witnessed a movement of locally and regionally grown brands over the past few years. We are now proud to introduce Asian perfumers and brands to the world.
What’s your connection to Asia?
Born and raised in Japan. Now living in Singapore after spending time in the United States and other places for over 20 years.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore! Still the hub city of Asia. Once hit, it will prevail smoothly around the region.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Believe in yourself!
Who inspires you?
Wow, soo many. Whoever is passionate about something in their life, career, hobby and family inspires me.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
If it is right, it happens. All you have to do is wait to see how it grows. That being said, you are fully prepared and know when and how to seize the moment. No need to put pressure on anyone or anything, even yourself!
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing different. I think all my experiences finally came together.
How do you unwind?
Yoga. Travelling. Dining. Diving. Sniffing!
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Recently I discovered Siem Reap which is lovely and rich in culture.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson
Shameless plug for your business:
Let us style you with a perfect scent!
This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:
Callum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries. He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence. A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.
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