There are many ways to spread Japan’s Kawaii culture to the rest of the world. One common way, as we’ve seen recently, are mobile apps like Decopic or CocoPPa. But another Japanese startup called MiCHi has its sights set on something else: Finger nails. The company operates an ecommerce service that sells made-in-Japan nail tips, and so far it’s proving to be an easy sell.
Hand-made nails designed by Japanese people are highly valued outside of the country.
For many women all over the world, getting your nails done is an essential part of fashion. In Japan, so-called ‘Gel Nail’ is far more popular than regular manicures. The process involves a gel that dries quickly under special light, and it lasts up to three to four weeks, much longer than the average manicure. But these nails can be expensive. And that’s where MiCHi comes in, providing nail tips designed by Japanese specialists starting at $18. There are over 10 new designs made available every week.
Interestingly, MiCHi was first made available to people outside of Japan, instead of launching in its home market. The ecommerce site was launched back in April of 2013, and unveiled its Japanese version only recently on August 6th.
In an interview with TechWave, the CEO Shun Nakazaki explains:
I’m sure that there are many Japanese women who have received compliments from people about their nails when they visit overseas countries. Hand-made nails designed by Japanese people are highly valued outside of the country. Since these nail tips are light in weight, the cost of shipping them is cheap. It is a good material to bring to the rest of the world.
MiCHi has over 370,000 fans of its Facebook page, and its users are mainly from New York and Paris. By launching a site for Japan as well, the company plans to acquire more nail design specialists to work for MiCHi. There are currently over 30 ‘nailists’ registered, with the hope to have 100 by the end of the year.
MiCHi was one of five startups from recently included in Movida Japan’s acceleration program.