2015 BBA Winner Profile: Entrepreneur of the Year - Junko Kemi
Nov. 26, 2015
Eighth annual British Business Awards (BBA) ceremony held on November 13 2015 at Palace Hotel Tokyo | Junko Kemi named Entrepreneur of the Year
The British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ) is delighted to announce that our 2015 Entrepreneur of the Year is Junko Kemi.
Through a voting process involving six independent judges, Kemi was recognised as a BBA winner for having carved out her own niche in ladies apparel - a very competitive market in Japan. She describes her firm, kay me, as a "problem-solving brand that addresses the needs of modern professional women". Since its establishment in Japan in 2011, kay me has achieved rapid growth and opened operations in the UK in 2015.
Beginning with limited financial resources, Kemi drew on her marketing and consulting background, to collect and analyse data - spotting trends and gaps in the professional work-wear market.
She soon concluded that kay me should focus on delivering a line of clothing to professional woman in the finance, legal, or management sectors.
With this in mind, Kemi invested considerable time and effort into personally contacting hundreds of lawyers across Japan, inviting them to participate in the "kay me experience". While resources did not stretch to opening a kay me shop in a new location, or when department stores would not stock her designs, Junko’s instead used hotel rooms in new locations across Japan, creating her own luxury boutiques inside that "bringing the shop directly to customers".
From a start-up in 2011, kay me has grown to become a highly successful venture with impressive turnover figures which continue to grow. Kemi says: "kay me has revolutionised the way working women dress and now has customers throughout Japan including television celebrities from newscasters to actresses as well as orders from overseas".
Ginza was the location for kay me's recently-held, second fashion show (July 2015), highlighting the upward mobility of the business. The show attracted foreign media interest and will be featured in a prominent European based magazine for high networth individuals in December 2015.
kay me’s core mission is to "support professional businesswomen through fashion". Fusing tradition and technology, every item is hand-made, easy to coordinate, and cut with perfection to flatter a woman’s shape. The kimono-inspired materials are selected with great care: each item is stretchy, machine-washable and perfectly designed with unique prints to wear both at the office and in a post-work social setting.
Collaborating with a specialist fabric house in Kyoto, Kemi has succeeded in creating the world’s first stretchy machine-washable dress made of 100% silk.
She is keen to help professional women succeed in juggling work and life by saving time and providing day-long comfort. An office delivery service also allows professional women to return any items to kay me free of charge, saving the customer the trouble and energy of returning to the store.
Though a daily blog, kay me currently has its finger firmly on the pulse, providing a platform for modern women to share thoughts and requirements about fashion, political, social, and business trends. kay me’s Facebook page now has over 22,000 Likes and Kemi will often respond individually to customer posts and questions. Through such media, kay me receives customer insights on a range of key issues. This feedback is a valuable resource not only to Junko, but to decision-makers in government and business who can use the information to better serve the needs of the professional woman.