Updated: Feb 25, 2022
How do you bring an existing product into the United States? What ways can you learn from products and brands that came before you to make your own product or brand successful? Mayumi Ishii, the Founder & Chief of Chrysmela, answers these questions and many more in the Harvest Growth Podcast.
If you’ve always wanted to launch a product and become an entrepreneur, but you are waiting for the perfect idea before getting started, listen to this interview with Mayumi Ishii. Chrysmela is a patented earring back that is the most secure earring back on the market. Mayumi will teach you how to find a successful overseas product and bring it to your own country, which can be a much faster path to a successful product launch.
In today’s episode of the Harvest Growth Podcast, we’ll cover:
How to find good products to source that already have a proven track record overseas and bring them to the United States
How to do free market research to prove your product, service, or brand before you launch
Ways to stay resourceful throughout the entire product launch process and continued growth
Learning from other companies already doing well to save you time and money
And so much more!
You can listen to the full interview on your desktop or wherever you choose to listen to your podcasts.
Or, watch the full video interview!
Go to chrysme.la and use the discount code harvestgrowth for 15% off your purchase!
Do you have a brand that you’d like to launch or grow? Do you want help from a partner that has successfully launched hundreds of brands that now total over $2 billion in revenues? Set up a free consultation with us!
Prefer reading instead of listening? Read the full transcript below.
Jon LaClare: If you've always wanted to launch a product and become an entrepreneur, but you're waiting for the perfect idea before getting started, listen to this interview with the founder of Chrysmela. She'll teach you how to find a successful overseas product and bring to your own country. It can be a much faster path to a successful product launch. Welcome to another episode of the Harvest Growth podcast. We focus on helping consumer product companies, inventors, and entrepreneurs to harvest the growth potential of their product launches and really find success.
Today, I am really excited to be interviewing Mayumi Ishii, she calls herself the Chrysmela chief. Chrysmela is a company we're going to talk about today. You'll get to know her product line very well as we talk through this, but the founder and owner, and really the runner. As she mentioned to me before this interview, she wears a lot of hats as many inventors and founders do. That's part of the story we'll share. I want to dive in and talk about her cool line of products, how she found it, brought it to the US, and really found success here.
We'll dive into the story. You're going to love really our conversation with Mayumi. Mayumi, welcome to the show, and thanks so much for taking the time.
Mayumi Ishii: Thank you, Jon, for having me. So excited to chat with you today.
Jon: For the sake of our audience, not everybody can see you, many are listening audio-only. Can you describe what is Chrysmela?
Mayumi: Chrysmela is the most secure earring back with patented technology. Chrysmela is the most strong and you can apply to any of your earrings, replacing all the known tech backs and lock onto it automatically. It fits, locks and lifts automatically. There's nothing like it in the world. Our technology is patented in five countries, US, UK, France, Italy, and Japan.
Jon: Fantastic. You mentioned in our conversation before we got started, that this is not your invention. You're not the designer in venture behind it. I have to tell you, I get a lot of questions from my friends, listeners, et cetera, that are fascinated, especially those that are listeners to this podcast. They love the idea of being an inventor or a product marketer, but they feel that they just don't have the idea. They haven't come up with anything yet. They've been waiting for that.
I'd love to hear more about your story. If you can share that with our audience, how you found Chrysmela. You found this product that was already successful overseas and brought it to the US. Let's dive into that story a little bit because I think that's going to really resonate with a lot of our audience.
Mayumi: Awesome question. Chrysmela has been around in Japan for about 13 years. My partner, Eri Kikunaga invented it after she lost an important earring which was an important gift from her then-boyfriend. They got into a huge fight over these lost earrings and they broke up over this. She invented this to solve this silly problem of lost earrings, which is 5,000-year-old problem. One day, I'm Japanese grew up in Tokyo and I was reading a Japanese wall street journal equivalent newspaper called Nikkei.
I was flipping through, of course, the top article of the day was about Chrysmela and how Eri invented it and how she's making a smashing success in Japan. I was so intrigued and I bought it right away on Amazon Japan, and I had to try it. I happened to be in Japan on business trip, the following week. I bought it, sent it to my mom's house, started using that as soon as I arrived and I loved it. As I called Eri, "Hey, so do you want to bring this to the US because my background is management consulting."
My business has been for many years bringing US companies to Japan to be successful or vice versa. I was talking to her wearing a consultant hat, and she loved my ideas. She said, "You do it. I have zero experience in retail," but I started doing it on the basis that I launched it on Amazon and direct to consumer and here I am.
Jon: That's fantastic. This is not your first rodeo as it were. This is not your first time you've done this where you've consulted with others over the years. It sounds like bringing products to Japan or from Japan to the US as well. What are some advice I guess, or learnings you've had from your current product line, your current business, but also over the years? What are things to watch out for, or to really help you to succeed when you bring a product elsewhere into the US?
Mayumi: First of all, most important it's the product is great and it's not easy to copy. I kick tire visiting all the six factories we use in Japan, all high-tech precision factories. Before I take on this assignment, because I wanted to kick tires, wearing my analyst hat, I was also investment banking analyst in my previous life. I wanted to make sure the product quality, how it's made by whom, and the floors are clean and is it patented. All those things were very important to me.
Jon: Let's talk about Chrysmela. How did you first come across it or first find it?
Mayumi: On the business newspaper, the article.
Jon: Literally, just an article and you reached out to the company and you didn't know them at all other than like anybody else. I wanted to reiterate that because I think that's a great example. It's great that you have connections and a background. Obviously, you're from Japan originally, right?
Jon: You've got a connection, but that's not necessary. Any one of us could have read that article potentially. Keeping your ear to the ground, watching for potential other products overseas. The nice thing today I assume is with social media, et cetera, reaching out and finding, without having to go there necessarily whatever country you're looking at, to be able to bring successful products from elsewhere into the US. You read the article, as you mentioned it's a 5,000-year-old product which I find is that really true? It's been really been around that long.
Mayumi: Since Cleopatra, since ancient Egypt?
Jon: It's a great picture. Fantastic. It's amazing how and in that time it took this long to find a real solution for that problem. How did you know, was it gut feeling right away after you read that article that this was the right product for you to focus on?
Mayumi: I was the user, I was a consumer who have lost my own share of important earrings, like Tiffany, some really, really pretty ones. It happened too often to good people like us. This problem should have been solved many years ago, but it hadn't. When I found it and started using it, I really fell in love with it. I knew I had to bring it to the US to share with millions of people.
Jon: You talked a lot before how you vetted the company, it sounds like visiting their factory, making sure that they're age legitimate and that the manufacturing capabilities are up to snap, the quality was good. What else did you do to confirm the demand? You know you had that problem before, again, you obviously invested a lot of time and effort, and money into this. How did you before you did that confirm that there was a market for this?
Mayumi: Great question. After I discovered and second step was do the market research. It was really not scientific or anything, but just gut feeling with my friends, their mother, their daughters, three-generation covering people who love wearing earrings. Many of them have nice diamond studs or play golf, which I love play golf. Golfers, I thought it would be a good target for high-end earring lock. I did that survey and analyzed the positioning and also price point how far I can push. All those information is very valuable to learn how to position, how to brand it.
Jon: Absolutely. In this survey, you're talking about was done, you said with friends and family to start.
Jon: I think we are big believers. My company that I own is Harvest Growth, like our Harvest Growth podcast. For most of what we are doing a product launch with a client, we always do market research in the beginning. Of course, for our audience's sake, it's better to survey or do market research with people you don't know, but it costs money. Early on a great first step is exactly, Mayumi, how you've done this. It's okay. You got to be careful, you got to realize they still like you, they're friends with them.
They're not going to be as objective as other people, but it's a roughly free way to do it and a great way to get started. You can get some great feedback. I love how you talked about, don't just go to your neighbors, but you went to three generations. Talking to the old, the young, and the middle It's don't just focus on your direct friends, but another free way to do that is to talk to friends of them or family members of them. The further you can get it separated from your immediate circle, the more honest frankly they're going to be with you.
You intuitively did all that. I just want to make sure it's very clear for our audience as well. As you think back to this process you've been through, what most surprised you? What did you least expect from when you first got excited about this, reading the article until you became a success? What was one of the biggest surprises along the way?
Mayumi: Biggest surprises, you don't know what smashing success or surge in sales would from it. One example, a couple of years ago on April Fool's Day, I was having breakfast with my husband. It's April Fool's Day and then I was watching on my phone on Amazon app. The sales picked up so dramatically like a rocket launch and I go "What's happening? Is this some kind of fluke on April Fool's Day?" No. Somebody wonderful at yahoo.com wrote about it, totally organically and called it, this is a new essential.
People Magazine followed right away after that and they called it the most genius jewelry invention ever. Then after that, followed by Real Simple called it, Chrysmela may be our favorite Japanese import since sushi. I wish I wrote all those copies but all those things happened starting on April Fool's Day. Who knew?
Jon: Oh, that's funny. What opportune timing that is, for sure. A lot of the interviews that I do have a moment like that. It's going to be a different story for everybody but they've got the moment where the business turned, right? All of a sudden, it's puttering along and doing whatever speed and it's that immediate growth. For you, it's a big article that gets written in a very positive way. To continue to have success with your business, you've got to capitalize on that. I'd love to chat about-- That was this inflection point in your business as you really started to see it grow.
After that point, what's worked best for you? What marketing channel or strategy has really worked best for you to really capitalize on it and keep your business growing?
Mayumi: Video, product video. I'm not saying it only because you're in video business. No. Honestly, video is the key. We have this little tiny product it's little green pea-size. It doesn't photograph well and nobody wants to show your back of your ear. It's very difficult to come across exactly how it works, what it does, especially who are not looking for earring backs just because they just lost one. Video is most effective. I was really lucky to work with these amazing Hollywood producers through another third party, the Marketplace.
They made two minutes-- We chop them up and I've been, to this day, using 10 seconds to seven seconds clip as Amazon ads which started last year and it's been one of the most effective advertising on Amazon for us.
Jon: Absolutely. That's very true. That's a great approach to take with videos as a start. As you mentioned, two minutes is a very common length for what we call a full story or full-length video. Then chopping it up and using that whether it's Amazon or, for our listeners, again, other platforms that work really well, Facebook, Instagram, et cetera. Those shorter videos that people are able to digest more quickly, especially in digital formats. You can do that when you've got all the tools, right?
Doing that full-length video to start can give you the tools, the bells and whistles you need and then chop it up into different pieces from that point. That's great to know. Over time, what resources have you found that have been really helpful for you in your business? If it's a book or podcast or conference or-- What's been really helpful for you that our audience might benefit from?
Mayumi: I'm sure everybody knows all of the books and all of the specialized websites with really deep knowledge base, but many of the tool companies like Shopify or other advertising platforms, so Klaviyo, they all have amazing tutorials. Depending on what you're looking for, what kind of knowledge base you're looking for, you just Google or go into like Shopify, if you use Shopify, or even if you don't use Shopify. They have amazing resources to go through and they just easily understandable just in shorter segments so you can follow during your break.
Just quickly pick up what's the latest, what's the cool way to execute some things or solve your marketing challenge or whatever. Another thing I love is, I love shopping, don't we all? Whenever I find a new brand or a new product I really love, I go into a little dig deep what they are doing. What kind of site they're building. What kind of sequence they're explaining products. Where their product recommendation reviews are positioned, is it on top or the bottom or where and why are they doing it?
That kind of stuff is a good mental exercise for me because here I discovered this new product or brand, why do I like it? Why am I so sold right away? They must be doing something.
Jon: That's great, I love that. I think our interview so far if I could summarize some of the great points you brought up is all about being resourceful, right? For you, you found this amazing idea by reading an article that I'm sure thousands of people read and didn't think twice like, "Hey, really cool idea." You took that, you're resourceful. You took it to the next level to now bring this to market. Then, as you've mentioned, it's looking for and finding tools that are out there, Shopify, et cetera. They've got some great information. I totally agree.
One of the last things you mentioned, I think, I want to really drive home to our audience that it's missed by a lot and you could save so much in terms of mistakes and just money and time. That people invest in getting a product launch in the right way is, again, being resourceful by looking at both your competition but also other products that are out there that are maybe not a direct competitor. What are they doing well that you can learn from? Paying attention to that and then testing it on your own site, for example.
It might be on your packaging label, whatever it might be, and seeing what works, what doesn't. You'll save a lot of-- Especially bigger businesses. They've spent time and money along the way and made some mistakes. You'll learn from their mistakes by avoiding them, right? Not everything is going to be working. Don't copy competition. One of my old colleagues used to say is, "Borrow with pride." Learn from competitors and others that are out there and really being resourceful. I think that's great advice.
Mayumi, this has been, I think, a great interview. I've learned a lot, I'm sure audience has as well. Is there anything I didn't ask that you think would be helpful for our audience?
Mayumi: You covered a lot of ground and you're an excellent interviewer.
Mayumi: One thing I want to mention is, don't hesitate to show up. As you just pointed out, thank you for reminding me that. When I saw Chrysmela in the newspaper article, a paper article back then, I was so intrigued. I took action. First, I bought it. I fell in love with the product as a consumer. Third, I contacted the inventor, and then here I am. Taking an action and participate and show up is so important. Another example showing up is, three years ago, I won the MSNBC pitch contest. I almost didn't apply because that application deadline was end of the year after Christmas.
They wanted me to make one-minute video and I happened to have cold. Of course, I sat on it until the last minute and I didn't have anything. I lost my voice. I was wearing a jammy and my husband goes, "If you don't apply, there's no way you're going to get in." I was pouting, "There's no way they will pick me so I'm not even bothered making it." He goes, "No, apply." I change my top, keeping my jammy bottom, put a little bit of makeup, and then recorded the one-minute video and submitted it.
Guess what? They pick me. You never know so don't hesitate to apply anything. If Jon invite you to come on air, say yes.
Jon: Love it. Great way to say that, you said show up, right? Often, even with yourself and so many that I've interviewed, a lot of success comes from doing just that, is showing up. Not everything is going to work out but nothing can work out if you're not there, right? If you don't take the time and take the effort. That's how you find these great-- Sometimes people call it luck, right? The first part of luck is showing up. You got to be there in order for something good to happen. Well, this has been a great interview, Mayumi.
I do want to mention to our audience, please go to Mayumi's website. Her business Chrysmela is spelled C-H-R-Y-S-M-E-L-A and the website is the same but it's C-H-R-Y-S-M-E-.-L-A. I'll put that in the show notes as well. If anyone's driving, go back and just look up the podcast, you can see the spelling. Also, she's been kind enough to offer our 15% discount code to any of the listeners. Just use HarvestGrowth, one word, and you get a 15% discount on her website. Again, Chrysmela-- I was going to say .com but it's Chrysme.la.
Separating the two just put a .la in the end of the word Chrysmela. Again, it's in the show notes as well. Also, be sure to check out Harvest Growth podcast to see other episodes we've recorded. If you like this episode, you want to learn more about how you can profitably grow your consumer product business, please subscribe to our show and leave us a review at iTunes or Google Play. Mayumi, thanks again so much for your time today. I really appreciate it.
Mayumi: My pleasure. It was a fantastic conversation. Thank you so much, Jon.