Way before the Maker movement, a Japanese woman named Eri Kikunaga created a product that answered a very problem for many women. The product is called Hazurenikui Pierce Catch, roughly translated as ‘hard-to-come-off earring clasp.’ This was back in 2007 when she was only 26 years old. Eri is now the founder of Chrysmela, whose earring clasp has been used by over 100,000 women.
The idea for the product came out of Eri’s own personal experience when she lost her earring by accident, and her boyfriend got angry at her as a result. That’s when she drew up the very first design of what the earring clasp would look like. No women is immune to losing earrings, and every time is as sad and dissapointing as the first time. In fact, according to the company’s own survey, 89% of women they questioned have lost earrings in the past.
The ear-pierce holders are allergy-proof, using surgical stainless steel, the same sort of material used in tooth fillings. The product requires precision crafting, and other materials such as silver or gold do not work. Within the 5mm diameter device, there are nine different parts. They are each manufactured at dedicated factories and put together by hand in the final process.
The very first version of the product was released back in July of 2008 and after five years, there are over 700 stores and 100 online shops that sell it. Eri explained about how her invention gained among the public:
The [positive] sales results on the online shops helped convince offline stores to coopeprate. There was an online jewerly shop on Rakuten and they believed in our product and began selling it. The conversion rate was as high as 10%. Our product began to appear in the general rankings and jewerly rankings on Rakuten and this helped us gain exposure to other potential partners. 94% of users who have bought our ear-pierce holder were satisfied with the product, and that helped to bring our product offline. ¶
Chrysmela’s ear-pierce holder was able to hold up to 8 kg in a performance test. The pin portion of an earring can vary from 0.7 to 0.9 mm, but the holder supports 0.6 to 1.1 mm. So one pair would support most earrings that you might have. The product is great, but the price is a little steep at 4,980 yen (about $49), in some cases just as much as the earring it’s holding. The pricing was the biggest problem when the company was trying to find sales partners. Eri explains:
In the jewerly industry, the executives are mostly men. They don’t have a clue about how often ear-pierces fall off. I was really surprised when they said, “If women do not lose their earrings they will not buy another.” Even if women lost their earrings it doesn’t guarantee that they will buy the same one, and because they fall off women do not spend much money on ear-pierce. They would rather buy something cheap because there is always risks of losing them, and this had to be changed. ¶
And she did indeed bring about a change. Chrysmela’s product changed the conception of an earring from an expendable that you’re likely to lose, to a precious item that you will wear for a long time, without the anxiety that you might lose it. The clasp is still being enhanced, with the latest iteration being 0.5mm or 10% smaller than the previous version.
In Japan, we have another word similar to ‘Makers’ called Mono-Zukuri. Mono-zukuri is the output of many impressive technologies in this country, and to see the Eri create an everyday product of such value is really amazing. Chrysmela’s earring clasp is available for purchase on Chrysme.la for overseas readers.