Illuminating the Eyes of Women Around the World
Pursuing safety, and beautifully illuminating the eyes of women around the world
While men may not be familiar with them yet, the number of women wearing "eyelash extensions" is increasing. According to one study, more than 40% of women in their twenties have experience using eyelash extensions in Japan.
Eyelash extensions are different from "false eyelashes" which directly stick to eyelids with paste. Instead, it is a beauty regimen in which artificial eyelashes are stuck to the natural eyelashes in the hand of technicians called "Eyelists". From 20 to more than 100 artificial eyelashes are stuck to each eye by glue, making your eyes seem bigger for around one month.
The history of eyelash extensions begins in Korea, which is known for being a beauty powerhouse, around 30 years ago; they were then also used Japan, where they were used to save the effort of putting on makeup every morning, and then spread around the world as a beauty technique through video media websites. Its popularity has been increasing rapidly over the past few years.
Recently HORONIC INC. drew attention as an early bird in eye beauty industry and is developing its beauty related business in Osaka. Eight years ago they began consigning OEM production businesses from domestic eyelash extension brands.
They have focused on developing, selling, and exporting products of their own brand, while maintaining OEM production consignment as their primary business ever since. Artificial eyelashes from their brand "OPTIMA" have a surprising variety, with more than 1,000 types varying in length, thickness, curl condition and color.
We had an opportunity to hear about the company's selling points, which have come to be trusted by their business partners, as well as future business prospects from the managing directors, Mr. Tsuyoshi Mizuhara and Ms. Mina Mizuhara.
Safety guarantee of delicate products leads to increases in trades
Currently, OEM production consignment from other manufacturers occupies the majority of their sales.
They receive consultations from manufactures for plans for high quality glue and original artificial eyelashes, and they single handedly undertake production. This is the result of the increasing number of eyelash extension salons and growing necessity of differentiation.
The safety guarantee of their glue is the point most highly evaluated by manufacturers. They earned trust from manufacturers through many years of good relationships with factories and a reputation of thorough quality control.
"Unlike glue for false eyelashes, the glue for extensions is an instant adhesive. Since it is a chemical product used very close to the skin, a high level of safety is a must. However, there are still places where quality control is not being carried out properly, and the lack of connections with trustworthy factories is a big risk.
Sometimes I receive consultations from manufacturers who commissioned other factories with production which did not do well due to a tendency toward high failure rates and missing parts in the delicate products, which is why I take care to be thorough with quality control." (Managing Director Mizuhara)
As eyelash extensions became popular, some accidents occurred during application. Cases such as glue sticking to the eyelid, or harmful gases volatilizing from low quality glue causing an allergic reaction were reported.
Manufacturers are strict when they check the products, as the safety of the glue and the technical skill of the eyelists are directly linked to the reputation of salons and manufacturers. The company president himself visits overseas factories one by one to confirm whether quality control is thoroughly carried out.
Establishing a system to listen and fulfill clients' requests
Furthermore, the appeal of the company is in the fact that they listen to the requests from manufacturers and salons which actually deal with the extensions, and then aim to develop products fitting their needs. They also keep in close contact with manufacturing factories and are trying to establish a manufacturing system for developing products fitting their needs.
"Via meetings with manufacturers and other events related to beauty industry, we found that troubles related to glue are the most frequent problem. The needs regarding glue differs based on the technique of the eyelists, with skilled eyelists who perform treatments smoothly preferring quickly drying glue to support their swift operations." (Managing Director Mizuhara)
In order to solve their problems, the company will release "OPTIMA", its own brand of glue this November. It is professional, quick drying and high quality glue which is suited for artificial eyelashes of all length and thickness.
Its package design will suit the atmosphere of the storefront of any shop.
Whether or not you can develop products that are accepted in the field depends on reaching out to the customers - the salons.
In order to get everyone experiencing problems speak to them frankly, Managing Director Mizuhara is trying to increase opportunities for conversation beyond the beauty industry.
Listening to direct inquiries from all over the world
The company began sales abroad after beginning its opening at Alibaba.com in July, 2015.
Until then, they dealt with inquiries related to OEM business on their website, and sensed that there was worldwide demand. They were eager to enter the global market before the popularity of eyelash extensions exploded.
"The target market of 'eyelash extensions' is narrow compared to basic cosmetics and other makeup products in the beauty industry, and we were concerned with getting attention from potential customers.
There is never an easy way to reach our overseas customers, and, unlike large companies, we can't afford large scale advertising. When I audited the Alibaba seminar, I thought this it would be a chance for us to advertise ourselves to international manufacturers, so we accepted it." (Ms. Mina Mizuhara)
Inquiries are arriving from all over the world. Inquiries from North America and Southeast Asia are particularly large in volume. Every week there are more than three e-mails which are likely to lead to deals.
Processing the inquiries from Alibaba has become major task for the directors of the company. The interactions are mostly in English. Conversing can be difficult when the customer is not a native English speaker, and they pay close attention to avoid misinterpretation.
Europe, on the other hand, is not so easy to enter, because to export products like glue, which contain chemical substances, Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) are necessary to pass the strict checking carried out by European customs.
Furthermore, large companies tend to be conservative in the eyelash extension market, because the safety of the glue is so difficult to ensure that there is a risk that it might cause health problems. The company utilizing a niche strategy, wherein they compete in an industry which is difficult for large companies to enter.
Women's desire to become beautiful has no borders
"Selling artificial eyelashes is not country specific, and its popularity depends on a certain type of person. Unlike common beauty methods which depend on climate, culture or race, eyelash extensions are different. I feel that the desire to make their eyes appear large is a universal pursuit of women all around the world." (Ms. Mina Mizuhara)
For example, Muslim women wear a head covering veil called Hijab, focusing people's vision on their faces, which makes them more interested in skin care and makeup.
In fact, we have already received inquiries from Indonesia, which has the largest Muslim population in the world, and we expect that sales channels will grow in the future.
The company believes that there is no doubt that demand in international market will increase. History has proved that beauty industry grows along with the economic development of a country, so they're paying particular attention to the trends in emerging countries.
Furthermore, the spread of pop culture in Korea, where eyelash extensions originated, throughout Southeast Asia will further push them forward.
"Regarding the domestic market, even though there is hardly a chance for explosive growth due to population declining, we will continue to proactively appeal to the young, and make it a beauty technique popular to a wider range of age groups. In the future we would like to we will focus on selling our brand's glue. Until now, we have grown our sales through customer reviews and deals at exhibitions, and would like to maintain our trust relationship and provide more safe, and products that are more easy-to-use to our clients worldwide.
(Managing director Mizuhara)