066: Building a Sustainable, Beautiful, and Ethical Business in the Japanese Fashion Industry w/ Aaron Mollin

podcast Aug 17, 2020
 

On this episode of the Small Business Japan Podcast I interview Aaron Mollin about his Entreprenurial journey through Japan and the world and we learn about what he sees are essential elements for creating a business.  

Aaron Benjamin Mollin is a lawyer and executive search consultant who is also engaged in a myriad of creative endeavors, from DJing, to revolutionizing sustainable fashion through his vintage kimono clothing brand, Ichijiku. Aaron has lived in Japan for 10 years and speaks fluent Japanese. 
 

Aaron’s business world weaves through consulting, the fashion industry, and head hunting.  

Aaron turned down a university experience in Tokyo for Kyoto at the last minute in order to get a deeper experience of Japanese culture and language immersion. This Kansai experience had changed his path in life and as soon as he returned to the University of Toronto he knew he needed to get back to Japan as soon as he graduated.  

After that there was a little back and forth, working in bars in Japan, and then getting his law degree in the US. Although he has a passion for law he eventually decided to start a consulting business in Toronto helping Japanese companies get started in Canada.  

Canada has stricter laws though and he wasn’t able to practice law there, it was a somewhat difficult time but he did focus on his consulting company, Omnii, and continued back and forth to Japan. Eventually he started his clothing company, Ichijiku, in Tokyo.  

His main job is as a Senior Executive Search Consultant for HCCR in Tokyo. He focuses on niche technical hires and strategic executive hires for companies in Japan, and also leads the legal recruitment department. He is a specialist in renewables and leads APAC recruitment for that industry as well.

When he started consulting, there is very little overhead so he never needed to take on investors. He was in no rush when starting Ichijiku because he was taking his time and learning about the fashion industry as he went. People made offers to invest but he grew with the company slowly.  

The philosophy behind Ichijiku is: sustainable, beautiful, and ethical.  

Sustainable: “Not taking any more from the earth than you have to. The vast majority of the fabric we use are vintage...” 

Ethical:  “On the ethical side I want to know on every step of my supply chain what’s going on., who is making the products even down to the little tags, how much they’re getting paid, what the working conditions are like. This is all really important to me.” 

Beautiful: “These products are all works of art and each one is absolutely one of a kind."  

He has grown the company all by himself and now subcontracts work to a Japanese tailor and seamstress in Tokyo. Soon he may find that he’s reached his limits and will have to explore expanding a solid team.  

“All lot of people tell me that you have to have a really good story behind it, everybody loves a good story. I personally don’t really agree with all that...The reality is I just want to make people happy and it’s their story in the end.”  

His ideal retail shop would have a DJ booth in the back and it would just be a place where he could hang out and enjoy the space.  

 

Japan is the land of untapped potential. 

 

 

Resources 

Ichijiku: https://Ichijiku.world   
Omnii (Japan outbound/inbound expansion consulting): https://omnii.ca 

Recommendations 

Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller.    

18 Small Business Startup Tips From Some of Today’s Top Japanpreneurs

 

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