Whenever someone mentions Japan, images of fresh sushi, the magnificent Mount Fuji and the busy streets of Shibuya are what that comes to our mind. But for cosmetics and skincare enthusiasts, Japan is a haven with dedicated beauty stores on almost every street. In fact, Japan has the highest per capita spending on skincare and cosmetics and highest sales figures.
And paving the way for halal Japanese beauty is Mieko Mariya Kobayashi, the founder of halal-certified Japanese skincare brand, Momohime. Despite its new entry into Japanese beauty market, Momohime has won the best product award in Moscow Halal Expo 2016.
In celebration of International Women's Day 2018, we interviewed Mariya to learn more about her and the story behind Momohime. Read on the interview below.
The Min List: When did it all begin?
My company originally started as an accounting consulting company in 2010 with my background of CPA. Through my study for MBA in New York and business experiences in USA and Singapore, I became self-employed after working for several companies including KPMG LLP and Goldman Sachs.
While living overseas, I realized that the quality of Japanese cosmetics is very high and they are popular especially among Asian ladies. We started research on skincare products in Southeast Asian countries.
The Min List: What inspires you to create your own halal skincare line?
My husband and I revered to Islam based on our experience in Indonesia. My husband was hospitalized in Jakarta due to acute hepatitis when he visited there on business. I flew to Jakarta from Japan and found that he got very weak. I became anxious about his life and prayed for the God to save his life. I heard Azaan from the mosque near the hospital every day and I got some nostalgic feeling and my mind gradually calmed down.
I was touched by kindness and warm heart of Muslim nurses taking care of my husband. He could come back to Japan with me and gradually recovered his health. With this experience, we realized that we need something to believe in and wanted to know about Islam more and started attending Mosque in Tokyo.
By learning Islam, we found the beauty in Islam and finally did shahada. The mosque we attended was the oldest Halal certification body in Japan, and we decided to create our own brand as Halal skincare.
The Min List: How did you come up with the name Momohime?
I am the third generation of the family running fruits and vegetable store and my mother always said that peach is very good for your health and skin. I got an idea using peach extracts in making skincare products from my mother’s wisdom and named our brand as Momo hime (Momo=peach, hime=princess), wishing for perpetual youth, health, and beauty.
The Min List: What does beauty mean to you?
I think beauty comes from both inside and outside. If your mind is peaceful and relaxed, you look beautiful and your smile makes people happy. Also, if your skin condition is good, you gain confidence and enjoy meeting people, making your life rich. I wish Momohime can be beneficial for both. High quality, moisture-rich ingredients make your skin healthy and elastic, while soothing peach scent makes you feel relaxed.
The Min List: If someone is new to Momohime skincare, which is the one product you would recommend?
I do recommend Momohime Peach Moisture Lotion (Toner). It instantly replenishes moisture and makes your skin very soft and hydrated. Like other Momohime line, we use whole peach extracts, hydrolyzed marine collagen, and hyaluronic acid na. I transfer it to a small spray bottle and apply to my face frequently when taking a plane to prevent dryness. Also, I use it for a “cotton pack” when having a bath to gain moisture within. I feel my skin gets elastic and clear.
The Min List: Halal beauty industry is growing exponentially, where do you see the industry in 5 years’ time?
Halal skincare products represent clean, safe, and ethical ones beneficial for your skin in a long run, so are good for all women beyond religion and borders of countries. The more people become conscious of safe and ethical skincare products, the more Halal products will be focused on. I believe that Halal beauty industry will grow more and no longer a niche market in 5 years’ time.
The Min List: Any advice to budding female entrepreneurs?
“Life is a journey, not a guided tour. You can develop your own life and become a pioneer in any areas if you make your best endeavors.” This is a word that my senior friend told me when I was wondering if I should leave the company and become independent. I remember this word every time I feel difficulties, so just want to share with you.
We hope Ms Mariya's story has inspired you. Whose story are we revealing next? Stay tuned next Thursday!
P.s: If you are interested to purchase Momohime skincare, click on this link to shop now!