Japanese beauty is rising in popularity again and expected to compete with K beauty on a global scale. Entrepreneur-led brands with roots in Japan are making their way to the States and finding consumers online. Reiko Kanise founded the LENAJAPON brand over 10 years ago; more recently her daughter Lena brought the brand to wellness-loving consumers in the US.
Here, the new beauty entrepreneur shares a profile of herself and the brand.
Name: Lena Kanise Østergaard Jensen, Founder and CEO
Indie Beauty Company: LENAJAPON USA
Launched: November 2017
Headquarters: Boston, Massachusetts
Cash flow: I own 100% of business. LENAJAPON USA is funded from my savings. We don’t have investors…but are considering it.
After the Indie Beauty Expo [in New York City this past August], our sales doubled!
Indie how? To me an indie beauty brand is unique and independently funded by the founder.
Team work: 3 employees I am full-time; the others are part-time helpers.
Distribution: LENAJAPON USA is only available through our online store. In the near future, the brand will also be sold on Amazon and at a salon in Boston. (The LENAJAPON brand is originally from Japan, and the products are still available there.)
Years in beauty: As LENAJAPON USA was launched, I started to working in the beauty industry! I used to be a professional ballerina and have been an artist my whole my life, and I also teach yoga, so I’m definitely aware of mindfulness and physical care, but I’m still learning how to run a business. It’s great though! Full of excitement and surprises. Of course, I have a great mentor: my mother who has been working in the business over 30 yrs.
Years at LENAJAPON USA: I was the reason the brand was born (11yrs ago), but I was just an image model for years. Then when I turned 30, which was 2 years ago, I decided to fully join the business and start my own US company.
Entrepreneurial experience: This is my first company. I could never imagine being hired by someone in a big company.
Before starting LENAJAPON USA, I was an artist (still am) and ballerina for my whole life. I had to manage myself and promote myself when I was a dancer; but now I have a company to promote and improve, which is really amazing.
The business: The brand introduces to the US market Japanese top-quality mindfulness skincare products that bring you truly natural, radiant and youthful beauty. Our philosophy and values are simple and elegant, offering the safest, nontoxic products for healthy growing skin. LENAJAPON’s natural botanical products, born from a mother’s love in 2007, are designed for all ages and skin types.
The wow-factor: Our products are so simple: 2 steps. Wash your face and nourish your skin with moisturizer, which is perfect for a busy life and it takes care of your skin simply yet well. Our products are created by science and nature…proven to be safe and efficient.
The customer: The LENAJAPON USA customer is 30 and up.
Milestone moment: Attending IBE in NYC, and being nominated for BEST IN SHOW. Also, being featured on the cover of a Japanese NY weekly newspaper.
Advice for fellow beauty entrepreneurs: Just keep doing. It’s ok to have bad days because there are always good days waiting. Never compare yourself to others or envy others. Just learn from them and make it original.
Just one: Kanise says her go-to beauty product is the LJ TRAVEL SET! I always carry it. It’s not one item… but it contains all I need!
Deanna Utroske, CosmeticsDesign.com Editor, covers beauty business news in the Americas region and publishes the weekly Indie Beauty Profile column, showcasing the inspiring work of entrepreneurs and innovative brands.