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Interview With Jasper Momma! Founder of Shigoto Fashion

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What up guys, I got the opportunity to pull some strings (ok, I didn't) to interview the man behind Shigoto Fashion, Jasper Momma. He was also General Manager of Heineken Japan before quitting his job to devote his concentration fully on Shigoto.

Here's the interview, which is also available for viewing at our Global Streetwear Fashion and Hip Hop Music Blog

1. What is the start-up story behind your pursuit as a designer?

When I lived in Japan I was very intrigued by the eccentric fashion style of its Japanese Construction Workers (tobi), as most foreign visitors were. I wanted to do something with it, especially when I found out that this style was not known anywhere else, yet.

I quit my 18 year corporate career to give the idea a shot.

I involved a long-time good friend, Mibu Minami, who is my Japanese business partner. She is a well-known media personality in Japan and loves the idea to bring Cool Japan to the rest of the world.

What we both really like about Shigoto is that it is not just a new look, but it has a very interesting and old story behind it: it originates from the Samurai and Ninja. The tobi have their own culture and code of conduct, too.

2. Describe Shigoto, what is it? What are three words that best define it?
Shigoto combines the traditional and the eccentric from Japan in a fashion style. Two words: Very Japanese (= Kaizen Quality, Innovative, Eccentric)

3. What is your definition of success, and how much of it do you think you’ve achieved?

When Shigoto Fashion is recognized as an eccentric and authentic setter of Japanese trends in the Western world we have achieved success.

We just started and we already have an interesting collection and presentation. Still a long way to go before we’re seen and heard.

4. What are some recent achievements you’re proud of and would like to share?

Our introduction during NY Fashion Week drew quite some attention. Both press and the fashion in-crowd embraced our look as something remarkably fresh and interesting.

5. What’s something that’s always running inside your mind lately?

Two things: 1. How to make ourselves heard without the big budgets of big corporations; 2. How to keep on refreshing our collection with new and interesting designs.

6. What would you spend a million dollars on?

Getting our brand out there. We have the capacity to design and make very cool new items, but we don’t have the budget to show it to the people who will love it.

7. What’s one incident that would serve as a turning point to your life?

On average, every three years is a turning point in my life: I move, I do something completely different, I meet new friends, I rethink my life. Nothing is ever constant except for my principles & passion, and the people I un-conditionally love, like my family.

I grew up with an autistic brother with whom I am still very close. I have developed some important qualities because of him. He is an important influence in my life.

8. What three pieces of advice would you give to others when it comes to life and business?

Passion, passion and passion. You can only do something really well (including living) if you develop a passion for it. Everything that is important comes from it: positive energy, optimism, determination and a contagious sense of making things happen. If you’re not passionate about your idea or your job: don’t do it.

9. What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?

We make mistakes every day and I believe it is the single most important way to learn and improve. One thing I regret is that we should have started when I had the idea 2 years ago. It took a while to digest before I got serious about it. Another ‘should have’ may be the addition of a women’s line. The idea is inspired by the male Japanese construction workers. Now it seems that women love the look for themselves. We’ll have a women’s line in April.

10. What’s a typical day in your life like?

I ‘live’ in many different places: my home is in Barcelona, our company and sourcing is in Japan, the market is in the US. So I am travelling all the time. If I am not on the road I am either glued to my computer communicating with my partners around the world, or I am seeing people who really know something about fashion: designers, fashion marketers, fabric makers, etc.

At night I try to mingle among the people who might be wearing our brand in the near future. It is so important to understand them and be part of their lives.

I sleep on the plane.

11. What’s one of the highlighting moments in your career? Why is it so?

I had many jobs and in every job I did something I can be proud of and experienced memorable moments. I don’t like bragging so I don’t know what to mention. I guess the most impressive moment was when we organized the biggest Rock Festival in Italy. I spent an entire night at a bar with a big rock star after his performance. Despite his stellar show for a 100,000 audience, he felt depressed and suffered a writers block and thanked me for the most sincere conversation since long. 6 months later he released a new album with a few nr. 1 hits. I will stay discreet.

12. What stops you from throwing in the towel and giving up during those frustrating days of being in this industry?


13. Biggest risk ever taken?

Leaving the safe comfort zone of my corporate career and do something I am not particularly familiar with.

14. Who has influenced you most and been your greatest inspiration?

U2. They are passionate and modest. They have this urge to create an improve and meanwhile they use their status to seriously improve as much of their direct environment as they can. They are so real and so down to earth. I love that.

15. How do you go about marketing your business or yourself? What has been your most successful form of marketing?

We have no choice but to be a viral marketer. We will slowly but surely add some guerrilla tactics, but our line is appreciated by a niche rather than a big crowd. We need to spread the word in a credible and affordable manner. I am in the middle of what we do. The best I can do is to connect with as many people who are relevant for our business: the people who would wear it, the fashion press, the influencers (stylists, celebrities, fashion gurus, etc.). So far our PR approach is doing well. The biggest virtue at the moment is patience. We are an on-line business. It takes quite some time before we’re spotted on the web.

16. In three words, characterize who you are.

Positive, creative, a bit crazy.

17. Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?

Red Bull: horrible taste & ridiculously expensive. Yet so successful.

18. How do you achieve balance in your life?

Always do as many things that are good for you as bad for you. I usually eat very healthily, I do a lot of sport, I spend time with the people I love, I keep myself trivially informed and I can relax. I won’t run down the bad things for you.

19. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
In 5 years hopefully opening a unique and very cool Japanese boutique, called Shigoto.

In 10 years, hopefully opening several stores of a unique and very cool Japanese boutique-chain, called Shigoto.

20. What’s the first thing you would say to the world if all attention was on you?

I’d quote Obama. It’s time for a change. And, yes, we can do it. Look in the mirror every single day and ask yourself what you can do to make your world better. It has helped me a lot. And look at Shigoto, that is something visibly different. It marks the start of a new era.

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