"Introducing an emerging designer creating captivating leather fashions."
Mai Mukaida Interview
Makeup Artist / CEO, Lalitpur.
Believes in the power of cosmetic
and lives with women in Nepal.
Mai Mukaida established a cosmetic company called Lalitpur. The brands factory is in Nepal. Lalitpur was started from her determination to provide women in Nepal job opportunities. This is also a chance to help them to recover from emotional damages from social problems that frequently happen to women in Nepal. She also has been organizing the Coffret Project workshops. The workshop’s goal is to care for women’s mental who are living in shelters in Kathmandu. She mainly works in Tokyo, Nepal, and New York. Now Mai lives in New York.
1. Where is your favorite place in NY?
Mai: Outside. Especially, I can feel much comfort from outside in summer. I love the sparkle from sunshine. I love sunshine filtering through foliage. I love the moderately dried and beautiful weather in NY.
2. Do you love NY?
M: Yes! I love NY so much. Especially I love the people. They live in their own original way. I feel comfortable when I see the people.
Everyone is different in origin, because they are from different countries. They have different skin tone. They have different face line because they use different muscles to speak their language. They are very individual and don’t change themselves for NY. I love the fashion from their seeking originality.
3. What is the attraction of your job?
M: It is that I can meet people from a variety of countries. I am Japanese but I can touch a view of life and a life style in Nepal through my job of creating jobs for women in Nepal.
Recently I started to work in NY in addition to work in Tokyo and Nepal. So now I have more opportunities to meet various kinds of people having different cultures or different languages.
4. What is the main difference between Tokyo and NY in your business?
M: I usually face the difference of uniqueness. However, it is not bothering me but rather fun. It is interesting to adjust the way business runs based on finding the uniqueness of people.
5. How do you feel when you work in places other than Tokyo?
M: It is surprising and interesting. Sometimes, I am shocked with something positive. Anyway, I am not upset in any cases.
6. What is an interesting thing that has happened in your job?
M: I received a soap made from Nepal before, I was surprised because it was different from my request. And when I asked about the reason, I was surprised more. It was made from the correct plant, but the mountain where the plant was growing was different from my request so the scent was different. It was fine for Nepalese, but it was not fine for Japanese.
7. Why do you choose this job?
M: I have two reasons.
First, to be honest I do not have the feeling that I chose this job. This is lead by my natural thought that I would like to feel joy and to contribute to society while meeting people and thinking about my role. I decided to go to Nepal from a special meeting. And there I met women who are interested in cosmetics, I decided to have workshop of cosmetics for them, and I found their needs that they need job. And finally, I established my company. So, this is very natural.
Second, if I would try to think the reason why I chose this job, it is because I wished to go many countries on business and to meet people from many of different countries to do business. And it happened to me. I can continue if I can enjoy. Sometimes I think it is lucky if I could find something I want to do even if I need to pay money.
8. What have you learned from your job in NY?
M: It is a different question, because it is difficult for me to separate my job and personal life. My personal life is attached to my job. It is nothing to balance my job and personal life, so I have worked with my best friend, and some of the people who I met through my job have became my friends.
I think we can find lots of people like me in NY. In NY, we can get stimulated from other things than our jobs. We can gain various kinds of inspirations from all of our lives here. I feel much comfort and enjoy my NY life. Because we have open relationships in NY, we can have various meeting and we can have many opportunities to make a personal connection. It is indifferent about position title or sexuality, and we can open up soon with what the person is doing. Many opportunities are here in NY.
9. Where does your inspiration come from?
M: Music, novels and movies. Work is a rational action with words and figures. But music, novels and movies can stimulate my emotional side, so I can find my inspiration and my ideas from them. Also I can find solutions suddenly to solve issues that I have not found the answer by logical thinking. Such as this color is fine or this combination is good.
My company is still small. So, speed is very important. But on the other hand, we can do something special by using speedy action and inspiration, and some of them are what big company cannot achieve.
I think so-called prototype style, to proceed one by one at the same time of thinking of something, is more reasonable for start-up than starting after making a detailed plan without failure by logical thinking.
10. What is a turning point in your life?
M: It is that I met Ryohei Takatsu when I was 15 years old. He came to my school to make a speech at the lecture meeting. He had worked for literacy education in Nepal, so it was my first encounter with Nepal. The story spoken by him gave me a direction for my life.
11. What were your dreams when you were a child?
M: “Mystery Hunter,” it is a reporter of Japanese TV program of “Sekai Fushigi Hakken.” She goes all over the world to solve a mystery.
When I was a child, many peoples from many of different countries visited to my house because my parents had many friends in the world. So, I had thought that I want to go the countries where they live in.
12. What do you do when you are not working?
M: I go to listen to music or go to watch movies. And I love to eat, so I go to restaurants with great food and eat slowly over time with family and friends.
13. What is your hobby?
M: Travel. When I go anywhere new, I feel the new scent of the air. Everything is new, such as how the sun is shining or the star we can see. Language is different and behavior by the people is different. Just looking all of the things makes me happy.
14. Where is your most favorite place in the world?
M: I have been to 40 countries for now. And there are lots of places where I love. But if I can go now, I want to go to Sevilla in Spain. March is early summer in Sevilla. There are many orange trees and orange smell are in the air. I remember so often by closing my eyes
15. What is your goal in life?
M: I have a goal for my company but I don’t have goal for myself. I always concentrate on the present moment. When I meet someone, I concentrate on the person in front of me. I want to focus on the moment.
Future is just a concept. Now is the all of our lives. So, I place my importance on the now moment as a human and as a living being. Though so many words are given to me, I want to think simply.
16. What words would you use to describe yourself?
M: Love and peace. When I say this answer, I feel ashamed. But nowadays, my theme is love and peace.
17. What do you most proud of?
M: Family and friends. I think I have lived with really wonderful people. I was raised with my parents’ love and I have never doubted their love. My friends are unique and great people.
18. Who do you admire?
M: Yoko Ono and Yuichiro Miura.
Yoko Ono is exactly not just the person whom I admire, but rather I should say she is the person I keep thinking of. Especially in NY, I can’t keep my eyes off her. From her books, I was encouraged and supported. She was hated from people all over the world. But, she had given her love even to the people. And then, such a temper disappeared. I felt impacted by her like a strong flash from her.
Yuichiro Miura is the world’s greatest climber and he is the oldest person to achieve climbing Everest. Actually, he is my parents’ friend. And he was a ski teacher for my father. I met him on flight to Nepal from Bangkok. First when I found him, I was impressed with the power of his eyes, that was shining strongly. It was powerful aura. And I talked with him a little. Now I am so interested in what he saw through those strong eyes at the top of Everest. I really admire him and his humanity.
19. What is your strength and weakness?
M: My weakness is that I am quick to feel sensitive.
My strength is my spirit is never broken. Of course, I have faced a lot of things that make me shocked. However, I never give up. When I am in trouble, I always think that I am not much of a person. I think I can overcome any difficulty if I have not a high expectation of myself. I started from scratch. That means I can restart from zero at any time. I have no fear about it.
20. What is your future plan or dream?
M: I can't imagine. I don't know at all about my future. Of course, I hope to grow my company for the future. But I don't have any concrete future plan for me. I don't know where I will be in the future. I don’t know if I will be dead or alive in the future. I want to live in the moment because our future is coming after living the now.
I remember well a painting by Escher ”Drawing hands.” It is that each hand is drawing the each other hand at the same time. We create the moment, and it creates the future. I think that's our life.
EDIT AND WRITTEN BY: MAYUMI
PHOTOGRAPHY: KOHEI KAWASHIMA