TRIM NEW YORK
My interest in hair started early when I was 10-years-old. I vividly remember a particular salon near my house in Nagoya, Japan. A friendly couple owned the place, and it was always teeming with people, always a line.
What made the place special was the service this couple provided and how hard they worked. They were both extremely polite and very skilled but had fun while working and were genuinely interested in the customer sitting in front of them.
I carefully watched how they cut hair while I waited for my turn and practiced cutting my parents' and friends' hair for fun. As I grew older, I knew I wanted to be a hairstylist. While I was in high school, I obtained my hairstylist license through correspondent school. By that time, I was working full-time at the couple's salon. It was the nineties, and back then in Japan, a lot of hairstylists were getting attention in the press, being treated like celebrities in Tokyo. There was glamour to the profession, and I was very interested in being part of it.
After working in Nagoya, I moved to Tokyo in 1996, determined to start my next chapter. I took the night bus from Nagoya to Tokyo several times after work to look for a job and place to live. Luckily, I had some experience, so I landed a job at a top salon in Tokyo relatively quickly. But I found that everyone was doing the same thing- it wasn't creative, and I could see I wouldn't last very long at my first salon job in Tokyo. In fact, I lasted only two weeks! I found what turned out to be my true calling quickly thereafter.
I looked at all the hair credits listed in magazines- which was no small feat since there was no Internet back then. But I discovered Katsuma Yokoyama, a famous stylist who worked for many designers during Paris Fashion Week and created the iconic looks of many pop singers, like Namie Amuro, in the nineties. I found his agency and contacted him. He gave me a test and a trial for several weeks- which I passed. I found my creative outlet once I became his assistant, helping artists define their look and image.
My ambitions grew, and I focused on how I could grow internationally. I had seen Oribe's credits on all the photos of supermodels in major fashion magazines in the nineties. He ran an insanely spectacular salon inside Elizabeth Arden on Fifth Avenue in New York. When Oribe came to Japan for a hair show, I was young and couldn't afford to buy a ticket to attend. But I knew he was THE person to work for, so I decided to move to the Big Apple to meet Oribe in 1998. It took me a month of negotiating with Oribe, and I spoke very little English then, but I eventually nabbed an interview and a tryout. It didn't even occur to me that I should look elsewhere; it was Oribe or bust.
I still clearly remember every detail of my first years in New York. Oribe gave me a tryout that lasted a few weeks. After passing, I obtained a working visa six months after landing in the U.S. I worked at the Oribe salon for five years, first as an assistant, then as a stylist. At the same time, I started to freelance and worked on test shoots for small magazines in between salon work.
In 2005, I had an amazing opportunity. I found out from a friend that a legend in hairstyling, Julien dY's, was looking for an assistant in New York. I immediately got an interview and became his assistant for three years before starting my freelance career.
I learned so much from Julien and all the people who he worked with- including the photographers, stylists, and makeup artists that worked on the high-end fashion editorial shoots and ad campaigns. I'll treasure these events and memories forever, but my favorite memory is when I worked with Julien, alongside photographer Irving Penn, on the AngloMania exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. That was a very special experience.
My own career started when photographer Albert Watson started to book me for editorial work in magazines like Vogue and Interview.
I have been represented by the Wall Group since 2007, and although I have moved to a new agency, Walter Schupfer Management, I am thankful for all the people that have supported me over the years. It's a great feeling to be working with the top agencies.
I consider myself a risk-taker and see Trim as my next challenge. Having your name grace the door of a salon isn't the only way to grow your business now. For clients, Trim will be an easy way to book stylists to come to your own home. For stylists, the platform will be a way for all of us in the business to be part of a team, a family.
Hairstyling isn't just a job for me, it's my life, so I see Trim as the beginning of my next phase. I can't even think about slowing down or things going astray. My intuition tells me it won't. If you don't give up and truly believe in yourself, things will always work out.