I had just quit my tenure working in investment bank Goldman Sachs Tokyo a few months back and searching for new opportunities. My wife, who was working for the same company, was asked to relocate to the Sydney office which we were very excited about. Having experience in the field, I started searching for jobs in the finance industry again, but something did not feel right. Why waste this amazing fresh opportunity on something that I've already done and tired and I knew that wasn't going to make me happier.
At the same time, being in a new country outside of Japan, I had the chance to see how people where appreciative of Japan and its products - the unique craft, minimalism, and splendid design it had to offer. New friends kept on asking me how they reminisced the beautiful products they could buy on their trip to Japan or how they could buy the homeware I had in my new home. These experiences got me thinking - could this become a potential business?
After few months of research and preparation, I decided to take the leap of faith and launched Kurasu - which means “to live” or “lifestyle” in Japanese - an online store showcasing Japanese homeware in Australia. 2013 and 2014 was a exciting time for myself and my small team, with my wife right by my side supporting the new venture. I actively reached out to the local community, touring markets and exhibitions gaining amazing friends, network, and overwhelming support. It was a feeling I had never experienced in my previous corporate line of work.
I truly felt the impact of Japanese craftmanship and design had to the world, and the power of building a brand ans telling a story. At the same time, I noticed a particular trend - more than 60% of our sales was coming from the small lineup I had of Japanese coffeewares.
Coffee had always been a central theme in my upbringing. My mother and father having owned separate Jazz Kissaten’s (Japanese coffee shops) which were in the heydays at the time, and even though I didn’t enjoy the drink for myself until high school, coffee was always around me – the scent, beans, vintage equipment’s, and atmosphere.
I began to shift my focus and research into coffee, the Japanese coffee culture, and Japanese equipments.
Sydney, July 2014
Being able to feature Japanese homeware to the Australian was a incredible experience, but to take Kurasu to the next level I felt we needed a precise focus and to target a global audience. That precise focus was coffee and to target the global audience, we moved our logistics operations back to Japan - this way we were able to ship items directly to customers worldwide cutting out as much middle man as possible.
We wanted not just to be a provider of Japanese coffee equipment, but to focus on the education of the Japanese way of home brew, the Japanese coffee culture and the art of coffee itself. With the third wave coffee movement taking the world by storm, we saw how it was rooted from the Japanese coffee scene. The craft, care, and mentality the Japanese put into coffee parallel no other. The new focus has allowed our growth to be exponential, reaching 25 countries worldwide, shipping out hundreds of items monthly.
We have continued our expansion by launched our monthly subscription service partnering with Good Coffee to ship coffee roasted by artisan Japanese roasters on October 2015.
With Kurasu, we aim to change the perception of Japan and coffee. One by one.
Coffee is my passion and it’s what I do right now for a living through Kurasu - spreading the word of Japanese coffee culture and selling beautiful Japanese coffee equipment’s to the world. On a personal level, it’s the process to be able to let go of the hassles or busy work schedule for the day. It’s to enjoy the pour,smell, bloom, and the sound of drip. Moreover, coffee is remembering how my mom brewed for me, and how that experience has shaped me to who I am.