Yoko Obata is one of our Migrant Business Accelerator participants at This Foreigner Can. Before deciding to specialise in cosmetics in 2011, Yoko worked at Virgin Atlantic to support herself as a professional artist whose exhibitions took her all over Europe. In 2011, Yoko decided it was time to carve a career out of her passion for cosmetics. After several years of hard work spent developing her beauty line, Yoko’s first products were approved in 2015 – her company KO・TO・HA London was born. While her dream business is in its early stages, Yoko is currently growing her commercial expertise through the MBA programme. Here, Yoko explains what she gained from a session with mentor Rebeca Riofrio.

The Benefits of Mentoring 

Q. What were your expectations of this mentoring session? What were you hoping to gain from it?

A. To receive objective and professional opinions. Before I joined the MBA programme, I had been feeling that I desperately needed some professional advice.

Q. How was the session organised?

A. Excellently! Rebeca had already taken a look at my website and Facebook site and she gave me her opinions. She has established methods to encourage and develop people’s imaginations…so I was able to think in a very relaxed and enjoyable way.

Q. How did you prepare for the session – did you have specific questions to ask/specific aspects of our business that you wanted professional advice on?

A. Yes, I had realised the necessity of video marketing for my business, but I am not a particularly tech-savvy person. I wanted to receive guidance on applications I can use for video editing. I also wanted to hear her opinion on my video marketing ideas. My idea was to make ‘How to’ videos on skin care, etc. But she said this would not encourage people to buy my products. She advised me to create a video showing how people feel when they use my products… It made sense to me!

Yoko's beauty products are made from natural, high quality ingredients only

Yoko’s beauty products are made from natural, high quality ingredients only.

Q. How did Rebeca’s experience and expertise help your business goals?

A. Not only have I learned the importance of visual materials, but her personality was purely inspirational. Her attitude made me feel that I also want to be helpful to others when I become successful (hopefully!).

Q. What practical pointers did you learn from this session?

A. We made a plan to create my first marketing video and we will meet in few weeks when I shoot some shots.

Q. What was the most helpful or important lesson that you learned from this experience? Did anything you learn make you adopt a different attitude or adjust your vision at all?

A. I learnt how important it is to make everything visually attractive. It is the most effective and straightforward way to appeal to people’s minds.

Q. Is there anything you learnt that you would like to share with other entrepreneurs who are in the early stages of their own ventures?

A. I would like to recommend that they seek advice on anything they are unsure about. Most of the advice I’ve had so far from professionals has been something I did not expect, and it opened my eyes.

Q. How valuable is mentoring when you are seeking entrepreneurial success?

A. Extremely. If you are doing everything on your own, you often don’t realise your errors. Mentoring points us in the right direction. Meeting the person who has specialist knowledge is a very inspiring experience. It really helped to keep me motivated.

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