Today we’d like to introduce you to Akina Sato.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I was Born and raised in Hyogo Prefecture in western Japan and graduated from the fashion school Osaka Mode Gakuen. I worked in retail and as a stylist in Osaka for five years before meeting my now-husband and business partner Andrew in 2011. We moved to the US, and began buying and selling vintage clothing shortly thereafter.
Aside from working in vintage, I am also the head of a small international sales agency, connecting Japanese and American brands and stores, and working with brands like READYMADE.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Of course, the biggest challenge was learning English. When I met my husband, I didn’t speak any English. Even now my English is not that great, and I struggle with language barriers all the time. I think it will always be a challenge, to not be able to fully and completely and freely communicate with whoever I want around me. The best advice I have is that you should endlessly pursue what makes you happy. It’s also important to enjoy your work.
What should we know about your business? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I have been working in vintage for a number of years now, and I think that’s what I specialize in and what makes me a little different. I sell at the Rose Bowl Flea Market and LA A Current Affair, but vintage appears in my other work as well. I started a brand called Chemist that utilizes vintage fabrics and shapes to create truly unique and wearable art. Knowledge about vintage is also important when it comes to my work with the Japanese brand READYMADE, which uses primarily vintage military materials.
Do you have any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general? What has worked well for you?
In my experience, you will find mentors and networking success while doing whatever it is you want to do. As long as you are doing what you enjoy, you will naturally come across those kinds of opportunities. I was never great at presenting myself or talking about myself, so I express myself with fashion. Luckily, it seems like that led to people who have similar hobbies approaching me. I find that by not “taking a day off” when it comes to fashion that it makes it easier for people to remember me as well.
- Instagram: @akyana