EDOBIO was launched in 2018 after 15 long years of research went into the skincare company’s all-natural products. Founded by entrepreneur Kenichi Arakawa, EDOBIO quickly established itself as a top-notch producer of high-quality products which distanced it from other Japanese beauty brands.
Arakawa began a career in IT but transitioned over to the beauty industry thanks to an interest in the sector. Since initially starting the basis of what would be the company over a decade ago, Arakawa has worked incessantly to build EDOBIO into a one of a kind brand. That work has paid off with stores in countries across Asia carrying its soaps.
The future of EDOBIO is bright with stores in Australia and Russia on tap to carry its products. Europe and the United States are next on EDOBIO’s expansion list. Customers in both regions already purchase EDOBIO’s products online but could soon get them from their favorite skincare store.
Kenichi, EDOBIO launched with the aim of giving customers all-natural skincare products free of chemicals. What led to the start of the brand?
One of our scientists was suffering from very rough hands, and while this person was researching BiProGE lactic acid bacteria, they noticed that the condition of their hands improved. This discovery became our reason for making the soap.
My grandmother suffered from rough skin too, and I wanted to do something to heal her. With that in mind, I wanted to make a natural soap that people with skin problems could use, and that is why I decided to venture into the skincare business.
In December 2019, EDOBIO held a 12-day holiday event. How was the event received by customers and what was achieved by promoting it?
We really wanted to give everyone the opportunity to discover our amazing products. Now that we have moved from a local business to a worldwide company, our products have been appreciated by our customers everywhere.
Through massive promotions, especially online, our digital marketing team has been working full-time to give our best-selling products the chance to be discovered and used in new markets.
We strongly believe that every woman’s dream is to have radiant skin with no imperfections. Today, this is possible thanks to many great products, but the base of every efficient skincare routine starts with cleaning and soap is a staple product.
Not many people around the world know it yet, but Japanese women have known the secret of the best skincare results since the Edo Period (1603-1868) and to appear in public they needed long preparation. Their most effective skincare treatment at that time was a soap made with rice bran, which is the inspiration of our products. Thanks to e-commerce, this secret method has been made accessible to everyone around the world.
Now, every man wants the same skin care to prevent any skin problems and boost their skin’s immune system. We have been surprised by the number of online orders made by men, either for themselves or to give to their loved ones.
We have received amazing reviews and feedback worldwide and that made us proud to do what we do, and every day improve through our scientific research, in order to deliver our customers the best natural bio products ever. This is the philosophy of EDOBIO, and we will strive to diffuse our secret of Japanese beauty more everyday.
The number of stores that carry EDOBIO’s products continues to grow. Already found in some of Asia’s largest cities, Arakawa outlined the potential expansion EDOBIO could experience in the coming year.
The company’s products hit the skincare market in 2018. Where can customers find the EDOBIO products and are there plans for expansion?
The EDOBIO collection is available at stores in Tokyo and Osaka, Japan, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, as well as the company’s online marketplace. We are going to start selling in Australia and Russia this year. We do have dreams of expanding more overseas. We’re also looking at other big markets around Europe and the USA. We’ve got a lot of customers from the USA who love our soap. We feel there is a market and our product market fits this moment exactly. Customers love our super high-quality plant-based products.
Previously, you stated that EDOBIO “soaps help remedy the various skin problems”. As an all-natural product, how do the soaps treat common facial issues such as acne with its “Japanese Biotechnology”?
Through our research into the history of classical practices of Japan’s ancient beauty methods, we focused on soil-based probiotic ingredients containing adaptogenic compounds, like specially sourced BiProGE®, originally derived from the lactic acid bacteria of Japanese origin, to renew and enrich the skin naturally for inflammatory skin conditions including acne, eczema, and rosacea.
We continue to develop cutting-edge, simple, yet effective, products that promote healthy and beautiful skin, our products are aimed at supporting the skin’s barrier function, while maintaining appropriate dermal pH balance for optimal results. Transforming the health of the skin’s microbiome and skin-flora, which is composed of a whole community of organisms that live on the skin, such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi, to impact how the skin functions through the restoration of balanced and healthier-looking skin.
For years, Korea has been known as a top producer of skincare products. However, Japan is starting to be recognized for its incredible work in the industry. Although not as well-known as Korea for skincare items, Arakawa believes EDOBIO will show the rest of the world why Japan’s beauty products shouldn’t be overlooked.
In the last two decades, Korea has become a country known for its skincare products. Is Japan overlooked as a skincare product producer?
I think a lot of people are talking about the difference between K-Beauty and J-Beauty now. I think the biggest difference is that Japanese skincare doesn’t follow trends. We would rather follow tradition, innovation, and quality ingredients. We do not add anything beyond what’s necessary. We want customers to use one product for a long time, because minimalism is such a focus for Japanese skincare. The goal is for your skin to be healthy, beautiful, and radiant without makeup.
Japanese beauty has always been popular and well-known in Asia for decades. Skincare has always been a big deal in Japan since ancient times. I think Japanese beauty is fit for the current market’s needs of natural and holistic lifestyles. I think consumers are looking for more quality and effectiveness from skincare products.
One of the reasons I think Japanese beauty was overlooked is because Japanese culture and personalities are too modest. In Japan, there are several thousands of local Japanese skincare brands. We had enough market in Japan 20 years ago and small-medium niche Japanese brands didn’t know how to expand into the world at the time. K-Beauty is amazing for marketing technology to attract western consumers and this trend has helped an interest in Asian beauty overall.
The artwork used on the packaging of EDOBIO products is gorgeous. What influenced the brand to use the classic Japanese designs on packaging?
We would like to pass on Japanese culture and history through our products. We decided to work with a design agency based in New York who understood our concept and came up with a fantastic idea for our package design.
The package has a unisex “Japanese Minimal” design to attract Western customers. We use cypress and pine wood for the outer package which is traditional wooden material in Japan and used as Sake cups. Instead of the traditional Japanese strings, we created a paper sleeve. A round die-cut paper sleeve elegantly reimagining the Japanese flag.
We took inspiration from Ukiyo-e and created an abstract icon. We used original Ukiyo-e print transformed with line art. Japan’s modernity, tradition, and the sense of cleanliness give a feeling of luxury.
EDOBIO has a growing reputation in the west for its beauty products and continues to see more customers from western nations purchase its offerings. Although EDOBIO is yet to expand into western countries, by the time it does, it will have a large customer base thanks to the growing online purchase it receives.
Are more western nations and customers moving toward using traditional eastern skincare and healthcare products?
We have been approached by many western retailers and customers through our SNS and emails. We feel that more and more western customers are interested in using Asian skincare and health care products. Nowadays, there are online beauty forums discussing J-Beauty or K-Beauty everyday.
Consumers are more educated now and they can connect easily and talk about Asian skincare. So, they learn about Japanese skincare products before they purchase them. They know that Japanese skincare is about the quality and a lot of innovations come from scientifically researched formulations, so that information encourages customers to try something new from Japan.
BiProGE® Lactic Acid Bacteria is a proprietary ingredient that helps regulate the condition of the skin used in EDOBIO products. Can you tell us more about BiProGE® Lactic Acid Bacteria and how EDOBIO discovered it?
From the soil in Japan, we successfully found an original strain of lactic acid bacteria and yeast, and by applying our own biotechnological techniques to it, we discovered it had improved immunity activation properties, so we went ahead and got a patent for it.
Soil contains a lot of nutrients (minerals), and it is a known fact that the condition of the hands’ skin improves after touching soil. So, we thought there might be something useful that could be discovered by studying soil, and that is where we started our research.
While continuing our research, we were able to see that BiProGE®︎ lactic acid bacteria not only led to improved immunity, but there were indications that it could also help normalize (skin) turnover. We are working hard to discover other new ingredients that will help and resolve even more skincare issues that people may be having through our continued research.
According to Arakawa, EDOBIO knows the skincare market is packed with competitors. Yet, the company is absolutely fine with the competition. The EDOBIO products speak for themselves and individuals can learn just how its soap can improve their skin. According to EDOBIO, its products will make users BIO-tiful inside and out.
In a very crowded industry such as the skincare market, how does EDOBIO market products to customers hoping those individuals stop using the skincare items they already use?
We are truly aware that this is probably one of the most crowded industries, with new products released every day by the most famous brands and, of course, from a plethora of medium and small companies, which most of them are doing a great job, trying to efficiently solve every aspect of the skin’s issues.
With that in mind, our goal has never been to change individuals’ preference about their most loved products but, instead, to make women and men learn that the most effective skincare routine has to start from a delicate cleaning to remove impurities from the pores, irradiating the surface of the skin with natural ingredients, and permitting their skin to be healthier before applying any other product.
This is our favorite motto: BIO-tiful inside and out.In other words, we want everyone to try to go back to the basics of the skincare routine. Our products are the basis of everyday skincare.
Our background is as an IT and biotech company, so EDOBIO, meaning EDO and Biotechnology, created a line of products that capture the essence of the ancient Japanese traditional beauty ritual from the Edo period and advanced Japanese biotechnology.
These cutting-edge innovative products were based on the local Japanese patented ingredients and our laboratory research team is working closely with our scientists to develop new Japanese plant-based ingredients.
We aim to be a leader in this industry with the simplicity of our best traditions and everyone in the world will know that Japanese women have wonderful skin, thanks to our traditional skincare routine from the Edo period.
How long did it take to go from the initial idea of EDOBIO to launching the brand in 2018? What were some of the lessons you learned as an entrepreneur?
It took 15 years. We were actually selling these products in Japan under the different brand name called HinataHina. We were lucky to have a lot of loyal customers, and a lot of our customers told us that HinataHina’s facial bar soaps were the best for their skin. We wanted to let the whole world know about our evidenced and tested products. That was our reasoning as we rebranded and launched the new brand EDOBIO.
One of the lessons I have learned as an entrepreneur is that you must do your best for the world and for the people in it. It doesn’t matter what, as long as you are doing your best for your customers’ satisfaction. That in and of itself will allow you to feel true happiness.
Kenichi, what is a day in your life like?
Every day, I wake up and eat a proper breakfast, and later lunch and dinner. I wake up at 5:00 am, and am in bed by midnight. I believe that only when the mind and body are both healthy, can one feel happiness.
What is something most people don’t know about you?
I love to cook, so I make healthy bento (lunch) boxes, not just for myself but also for my family every day!
Can you share two of your favorite quotes with us?
“Justice before profit.”
It’s Japanese “Yojijukugo”: The Compressed quote of Four-Character Idioms. Before thinking of one’s benefit first, it is better to always think of what one needs to do for the world and the people, and to do it to the very best of one’s ability. I have always believed in this principle from the days when my company was founded.
If you had the power to change just one thing in the world what would it be?
I would like to be able to purify sea water.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
I started in the IT industry, which is a far cry from the skincare industry, so every day, I learned something new. In learning new things, I learn a lot from our customers, and I am very grateful for that. I hope to continue to listen to what our customers tell us as we take EDOBIO and grow it into a brand that is loved by people the world over.
EDOBIO is set to reach more customers than ever before in the next 12 months. As the company looks to expand and reach stores in countries around the globe, the potential for growth is high.
Arakawa may not have started off in the skincare industry, but the entrepreneur has worked hard to build EDOBIO into a premier company. EDOBIO is now answering the call for authentic Japanese beauty products and delivering more than expected to customers. The proof is in each user’s skin.
For more information on Kenichi Arakawa and EDOBIO, visit www.EDOBIO.com
Journalist and author. Contributor