This month Sarah Rumme Nishida, born in Kyoto and living in Nagoya introduces Pure Hearts Natural Soy Candles
Most days, Sarah is a WAHM specializing in “very technical and boring translations. My wonderful husband Taka, and two great kids Karen (11) and Taika (8) have patiently taught me to how to relax and enjoy life with surfing, skiing, fishing and spending lazy days at our cabin in Nagano!”
1. Tell us about your business
Pure Hearts Natural Soy Candles – hand poured in Nagoya, Japan
Pure Hearts candles are soy-wax candles poured in unique Japanese pottery and glass containers. Made of high quality ingredients imported directly from the US, these candles are gently scented with phthlalate-free scents.
2. What have you found to be the biggest challenge being a small business owner? How did you overcome it?
Scented candles are hard to sell to the Japanese who still associate candles with little Butsu-dan candles. Did you know that the little candles are just long enough to burn during one okyo (Buddhist chant)? Since they have a hard time imaging a scent, it’s very hard to sell online. This may change soon with the latest craze for scented laundry products!
Luckily, there were many “artsy” moms at the kindy my children went to. They started having small craft fairs around town, and I would join them. Being able to explain the product in Japanese and let the customer smell the candle was the key. My booth is always at the entrance now. The organizing moms know people will be attracted by the scent and the foreigner. I’m 6’. I can’t hide anyway, so I let them use me as their sign.
3. What do you enjoy the most about being a small business owner?
I’m an introvert, and don’t like answering to people. I deal with three translation agents every day, and have panic attacks all the time. One of my first agents said, “You are living in Japan, and we don’t celebrate Christmas so don’t expect a day off.” Then for New Year’s he said, “You’re an American. Americans work during New Years.” Not knowing how to fight back, I ended up working almost ten years with the odd day off every few months. With Pure Hearts, I get to control my pouring and delivery schedule. I can say “NO” when I don’t want to work. Now that DD is 11, she helps with the pouring and packaging
4. What advice do you have for fellow momtrepeneurs?
Pinpoint your target. Are you selling Asian things to a worldwide market, or do you want to targetJapanese market? If Japan is your target, pick a store name that easily converts to katanaka. Putting foreign names into katakana can be a pain when searching for something on the internet, especially when you’re typing on your smart phone.
Don’t be afraid to use simple Japanese to advertise your product and interests. Make use of free blogs. Once you figure it out, Ameblo is no more difficult than WordPress or other free blog sites. If you’re not comfortable writing in Japanese, write your blog in easy English and add a Japanese description. It doesn’t have to be perfect Japanese. As long at the google robots can find descriptions of your products, they will appear in a search. I write about all sorts of things: my candles, being a TCK trying to raise bicultural kids, my cabin. You never know what interest will lead readers to your products.
Samples are free advertising. I used to make tea light candles with leftover wax and give them out at craft fairs. Now they are one of my best-selling products.
Lastly, we all know kindy bazaars are a pain. A real big pain. My DS graduated three years ago, and I still run the mitarashi dango booth. However, the moms who make those little knickknacks may be more business-oriented than you think. Craft fairs featuring mama-san artists are popping up all over the place. My main craft fair only charges Y2000 a session, and doesn’t take any extra commission off sales.
KA Blog Discount
Check out www.rumme.com and use the discount KABLOG to get a 10% discount on candles.