Women's History Month Spotlight: Koko Kashiwagi

Koko Kashiwagi
Koko Kashiwagi
Courtesy of KOKOIST

KOKOIST CEO Koko Kashiwagi was a professional nail artist herself who developed her company's products.

  1. What inspired you to join the professional nail industry? 
    “When I lived in Sydney, Australia, 30 years ago, I stopped by a nail booth that was in the beauty section. I was shocked at how instantly my nails became so beautiful. I immediately knocked on the doors of Sydney’s nail school to step my foot into the nail world.”
  2. When and how did you get started in your career? 
    “In 1995, I opened my first nail salon in Sydney, Australia, then in Hawaii in 2000. Eight years later, I started to study gels, and in 2010, established KOKOIST International.” 
  3. As a female leader/professional, what are some obstacles you experienced, and how did you overcome them? Have you confronted gender-related roadblocks in your career? 
    “I did not experience much of a roadblock as a female. However, my husband and my family’s support during childbirth and raising a child was much needed. In my case, my husband was very supportive of raising our son. Because of his loving support, I was able to go on business trips to Japan and overseas for about half a year at a time, doing product research and development.”
  4. How can women support other women in this industry? 
    “The nail industry is a place where you can be successful regardless of gender. My mission is to create products that can help nail technicians/artists grow their business.”
  5. What is one thing you know now you wish you would have known when you started in this business? 
    “I wish I would have known more about chemistry and the medical field when I first started this business. Therefore, I continue to study more to expand my knowledge and understanding.”
  6. What other key learnings and practices do you wish you to share with other professionals? 
    “I have been in this business for many years now, and I continue to learn on a daily basis. With that being said, I would recommend [using] products…that help the nail technicians/artists be more efficient [with their time] while serving customers. Also, I would suggest [they] use [different] products to expand their design options with the current trends.”


Related: Women's History Month Spotlight: Gloria Williams

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