Hiro Nakayama’s commitment to incense has coincided with its acceptance into the fragrance industry.
What’s your story?
Since the last interview, a lot has happened. I have now relocated to Japan, expanding offerings into marketing, consulting, and events. I now focus more on incense because I experienced it frequently at first hand after my mother’s passing. I have offered Creative Japanese Incense workshops in Singapore, Tokyo, NY and LA, and spoke about the art of incense at one of the leading exhibitions for the fragrance industry, the Pitti Fragranze 2020. In fact, they featured incense for the first time. We are about to launch a collection of incense inspired by Japanese history in 2021.
What excites you most about your industry?
The fragrance industry has always been speaking to our emotions as well as functionality. And the industry is growing with the pursuit of innovation, 1) other industries have recognized the power of the olfactory senses; 2) the industry itself, once segregated by categories, came together and started collaborating. Or integrating, I should say. Another aspect is, due to COVID-19, as we were challenged as to how comfortably and creatively we stayed at home, the demand for scent has increased. Most recently, The New York Times featured incense as an alternative to aroma diffusers and candles. The possibility of scent seems exponential.
What drives you in business to push beyond what other people consider normal?
First things first, I am a big believer of “anything is possible”. Normal or not to other people, it doesn’t matter. As long as it is one step closer to achieving “A Scent World, that creates A Better Society”, that is a worldview I envision for the society we are in.
What have been the most useful skills you have learnt and applied in your journey?
I don’t know if this is called skill but being or at least trying to be “moderate” has been useful for me. Or you can call it “balanced” as well. You may learn a hard skill for a short period of time, but you learn the soft skills through your life’s journey. Particularly, applying the soft skills toward yourself takes more time.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Believe in yourself!
Who inspires you?
Everyone who has crossed paths with me. Everyone has their own story that inspires me, influences and impacts on a piece of me.
What have you learnt recently that blew you away?
Entrust. Go with flow. Ask for help. Particularly with the on-going incense project, if I keep these in mind, it moves smoothly. Truth appears when trusting.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing. Everything happens for a reason. One of my favourite Japanese proverbs, 一期一会 (ICHI GO ICHI E) means “one time, one occasion” or “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”. The moment comes only once. I want more time now and in the future.
How do you unwind?
I no longer tend to schedule a time for unwinding. But now and then, I encounter seasonal nature, sniff plants and flowers and listen to the sounds nature plays, and am content at that time. Someone told me a long time ago, “the smallest things matter the most”. I now totally agree.
What is a major mindset change, belief shift or ‘ah ha’ moment that you’ve experienced in relation to your business?
That “ah ha” moment was when I realized that I had everything I needed. I just needed to seize the opportunity when it appeared. For example, my current project started when I was questioned by an industry veteran as to when I would launch my own brand. It is important to analyze the market but more importantly to follow instinct and intuition. Perhaps things I have in mind will appear as an opportunity. Then I just grab it!
Everyone in business should read this book:
I still go with “Who Moved My Cheese” by Spencer Johnson
Shameless plug for your business:
“A Scent World, that creates A Better Society”
How can people connect with you?
Social Media Links?