Q. What do you think has set the foundation for Mikimoto's global expansion?
A. Every year, we present two new collections of high jewellery. We always challenge ourselves with the creation of new style, new materials and exploring new technology and techniques.
We operate stores not only in Japan but also in major locations in the United States, France, England, China and more. Our presence at different corners of the world is growing, catering to jewellery lovers and pearl lovers across the globe.
Q. What has been the biggest challenge for Mikimoto's global expansion and what's your strategy in tackling the difficulties?
A. There's no shortcut in the luxury jewellery business. For us, the quality of materials, the craftsmanship, and the knowledgeable and experienced sales [staff] are important factors [in tackling challenges]. I also believe that the trust we build with our customers is the most important element. All of our staff have to understand that building trust with customers takes time and consistently sincere and helpful [service]. The opening of our flagship store at Hong Kong's 1881 Heritage is an important milestone in the Asian market.
Q. What is your vision for Mikimoto's high-jewellery business beyond iconic pearls?
A. We celebrated our 120th anniversary in 2013. Today, we strive to create new designs [and new categories] of pearl jewellery that are young and wearable. Instead of the traditional high jewellery necklaces, we are developing products such as body jewellery and hair accessories - high-jewellery pieces that you can wear every day. We are always challenging ourselves.
Q. Founder Kokichi Mikimoto is a pioneer in the cultured pearl industry. How has innovation been carried out within the company?
A. The founder has always been an inspiration to me. It took him a lot of effort, hard work and great imagination to create the perfect cultured pearl. He conquered the struggles with passion for high quality, unique ideas and the vision to focus on the world market. We also invest in sustainable natural pearl harvesting and eco-friendly ways of [developing] cultured pearls. Luxury is the unique beauty that comes from nature, human wisdom and effort as well as innovation. [While maintaining] excellent quality, we also need to respect and protect nature. It's a philosophy that we continue to [embrace] at Mikimoto today.
Q. What is the key to longevity in this industry?
A. We have been a top runner in the pearl jewellery market for more than a century now. Heritage is important to us but innovation is what keeps us [ahead] as the market leader. It's essential for us to keep the brand alive and thriving through understanding and keeping up with new trends. Our philosophy is to preserve our heritage and legacy. We build the brand by always cherishing our customers and catering to their needs.