Courtesy of KOKOIST
KOKOIST CEO Koko Kashiwagi was a professional nail artist herself who developed her company's products.
- What inspired you to join the professional nail industry?
“When I lived in Sydney, Australia, 30 years ago, I stopped by a nail booth that was in the beauty section. I was shocked at how instantly my nails became so beautiful. I immediately knocked on the doors of Sydney’s nail school to step my foot into the nail world.”
- When and how did you get started in your career?
“In 1995, I opened my first nail salon in Sydney, Australia, then in Hawaii in 2000. Eight years later, I started to study gels, and in 2010, established KOKOIST International.”
- As a female leader/professional, what are some obstacles you experienced, and how did you overcome them? Have you confronted gender-related roadblocks in your career?
“I did not experience much of a roadblock as a female. However, my husband and my family’s support during childbirth and raising a child was much needed. In my case, my husband was very supportive of raising our son. Because of his loving support, I was able to go on business trips to Japan and overseas for about half a year at a time, doing product research and development.”
- How can women support other women in this industry?
“The nail industry is a place where you can be successful regardless of gender. My mission is to create products that can help nail technicians/artists grow their business.”
- What is one thing you know now you wish you would have known when you started in this business?
“I wish I would have known more about chemistry and the medical field when I first started this business. Therefore, I continue to study more to expand my knowledge and understanding.”
- What other key learnings and practices do you wish you to share with other professionals?
“I have been in this business for many years now, and I continue to learn on a daily basis. With that being said, I would recommend [using] products…that help the nail technicians/artists be more efficient [with their time] while serving customers. Also, I would suggest [they] use [different] products to expand their design options with the current trends.”