Breaking Stereotypes —  A Young Foreign Mother & Female Founder in Japan

A Profile of Omima M. Miki or “Mimi” for short.

Introducing Mimi

Mimi LinkedIn.jpg

Impressive. Inspiring. And invigorating! These were the words I immediately felt while speaking to amazing female entrepreneur — Omima M. Miki, or “Mimi” for short. Currently, her task list is larger than most Japanese サラリーマンor “salary men.” One of her latest initiatives is planning and launching an “温泉と旅館” or a Japanese-style hotel paired with a relaxing onsen spa and delectable Japanese-style food.

What’s unique about this enterprise is its promotion of 入れ墨 or “tattoos.” Historically, tattoos were only worn by the やくざ or “Japanese mafia and gangsters.” As such, they have an extremely negative connotation in Japan — a fact that most tattooed-foreigners quickly discover when they are rejected from gyms and spas. Sometimes, they are allowed to enter, if they bandage themselves to cover every speck of the tattoo. Obviously, this isn’t possible for everyone. So Mimi and her team decided to innovate and launch a tattoo-friendly, get-away.

Not only will it welcome anyone with a tattoo or anyone who just appreciates the art form, but it’s also providing an objective history of the tattoo industry in Japan with an artistic, high-tech interior. And it has an important, two-fold mission — to help Japanese and foreigners understand the history of tattoos, and normalize the image of tattoos in Japan. Set to launch during Golden Week of 2019, the onsen will be called Mina-Mizu, or “All from water.”

Mimi described it with these words:

Our design brings forth a unique high tech concept that is usually not associated with water. We want to incorporate not only the traditional, gritty style of the underground tattoo world, but also modern accommodations. Besides the customary female and male onsens, this facility will also have a family (co-ed) swimming pool, as well as a 30-room ryokan, or Japanese style hotel, an izakaya, Japanese style bar, and showroom / lounge that will be designed to showcase the history of tattoos in Japan.
The most exceptional part of the onsen is the Feng Shui architectural embellishments of the interior and exterior décor that truly make the facility a unique establishment. One such example is an enormous, 3D projected dragon that protrudes from the walls, as if it were breaking through the onsen.

Most impressively, the 温泉と旅館 will be featured on NHK, TBS, The Japan Times, and The Asian Times in early January 2017. With investments from the private and public sector, Mimi has her hands full. And yet, this isn’t all that she does.

Her second enterprise is publishing a similarly themed, tattoo magazine next year. With the little spare time she has left, she’s also overseeing a third initiative — a non-profit organization (NPO) in Kobe called あおいたいよう or “Aoi Taiyo” that hosts educational competitions for high schools. It’s similar to Bill Gates Imagine Cup, but on a smaller scale. And the NPO’s mission is to realize the full potential of youth.

And as a screenwriter and producer, Mimi also works on contract jobs from time to time as her fourth revenue stream. Oh yeah, and she’s also raising two amazing ハーフ or “Hapa”children … as a single mother!

Wow, right? Read more to learn about her unique personal history and advice for aspiring, female entrepreneurs.

Mimi’s Fascinating, Personal History

After receiving a Double Masters Degree at the University of California, Los Angeles and EICAR, the International Film School of Paris in Screenwriting and Producing, Mimi started her first official entrepreneurship — a production company that wrote storylines for videogames, made movies, published books, and basically did everything from ground zero. For five years, she ran this incredibly successful production company in Los Angeles, CA (LA).

Seeking a new challenge, and coupled with her Japanese fiancé, Mimi decided to expand to Japan. After all, Osaka’s entertainment industry was not up to par in comparison to LA. And thus, infinite business opportunities had yet to be unearthed. And before she decided to take the leap of faith and move to Japan, she sold her prosperous production company.

Of course, she knew that there would be immense challenges by moving to a foreign country with a foreign boyfriend, but she didn’t realize how many rules governed appropriate behavior for Japanese business negotiations. In fact, it would take anyone years to learn all of the social customs and particular honorific language used in specific circumstances.

Plus, she had the additional difficulties of being a young, female, foreign entrepreneur, who didn’t speak a word of Japanese. In a homogeneous country, it was harder than she could have ever imagined! And yet, she persevered against all odds in this foreign country, including getting married to a Japanese, having children, and then eventually, getting divorced. But with her positive and optimistic nature, none of these trials were insurmountable.

While it was quite intense at times, Mimi appreciated how supportive the Japanese government was of single mothers. And her ex-husband’s family, who are owners of a recycled company — Miki Shoten — based in Shizuoka, strongly encouraged her business endeavors and dreams, even to this day.

Plus, when she first arrived in Japan, she served as a member of the American Chamber of Commerce Japan and was part of the Women in Business Committee and Community Service Committee. With this group, she hosted large-scale charity events and other supportive initiatives for children with cancer and women in the workforce.

By running an NPO to support youth, serving on various committees, and hosting large-scale charity events, she quickly expanded her network with valuable contacts. These contracts proved to be incredibly fruitful, once she decided to launch her private initiatives such as the 温泉と旅館。

Mimi’s Sage Advice

With her unique background and experience, she will soon be hosting a seminar in Tokyo with Takumi Yamazaki for single, working parents. With the goal of helping parents realize his or her true potential, and consequently, inspire their children, Mimi will empower parents to contribute their unique skill set to the world.

1. Realize Your True Potential with an Eye Towards Lifetime Achievements

If you are constantly expending energy focusing on the small details of life, you will miss the opportunity to accomplish your larger vision. Instead of concentrating on small, household minutiae such as making designer ベントlunches, or “bento,” Mimi is encouraging parents to focus on the larger picture with these types of questions:

  1. What do you do once you have received everything you have ever wanted?
  2. What do you want to have accomplished by the age of 30? 40? 50?
  3. How do you want your children to remember you?
  4. And what are you passionate about, or excited about?

To truly inspire your children, Mimi wholeheartedly believes in pursuing your own unique skills, goals, and dreams. That way, you can contribute to the world in yet another way, in addition to raising wonderful children.

Mimi provides the wise advice to focus on realizing your true potential by contributing your unique gift to the world.

2. Only Tackle What You can Handle by Ruthlessly Prioritizing

After all, no one can do everything. No one can be a superman or superwoman all the time. In fact, it’d be difficult for me to last more than a few hours.

In a similar vein, you don’t have to frivolously waste hours with unnecessary things such as making the perfect lunch box, wearing a flawless outfit, or cleaning every single particle of dust in your house. By simplifying and eliminating extra errands through ruthless prioritization (within reason), you can accomplish more in a day, week, month, and over the course of your lifetime.

By taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture of what you want to accomplish over the course of your lifetime, you can then decide on what’s actually important to achieve now, what’s unnecessary, and what can be done later. Then on a daily basis, you can concentrate on finalizing the most important tasks that will provide the maximum ROI, or return on your investment.

3. Do What is Best for You to Positively Impact Your Children!

Those who are truly happy are the ones who are fulfilling their life goals on a consistent basis. Plus, they attract more positivity into their lives and make a small, positive difference for society.

The positive energy exuding from someone can be sensed immediately. And it makes all the difference in business negotiations, daily conversations with the grocery store clerk, and most importantly, your children!

In fact, your energy is one of the most important things that will have either a positive or negative impact on the lives of your children. Fundamentally, Mimi knows the importance of her energy, so she smiles all the time, is true to herself and her values.

In a call-and-response game she plays regularly with her children, Mimi calls out:

“Fight for people!”

And her children respond with:

“Save the World!”

By instilling in her children a mission to help fight for the rights of other people, Mimi is instructing them to make a positive impact on the world. And by remaining true to herself, she knows what she is doing and not doing is absolutely perfect!

Nothing bothers her anymore. She knows she is busy, and can’t be bothered with anything that’s irrelevant. In this way, Mimi effectively blocks out what is not needed in terms of energy. As such, she attracts more positivity into her life and the lives of her children.

4. Consider Starting Your Own Business — Here’s Why

Reason #1: Why not? What Have you Got to Lose?

Of course, there are a millions reasons why you may think you can not start a business at this very moment. But the more you think, instead of acting, the more you stop yourself from putting your raw talent out there.

Reason #2: Consider Why it Could be a Good Idea to Start Your Own Business?

Instead of thinking of all the reasons why you should not start a business, why don’t you try to consider why it might be a good idea.

For example, it would potentially free you from a typical OL or “office lady” role, where you are expected to be in the office between 9 am and 6 pm everyday with very little rest, overtime responsibilities, and very little time to actually spend with your children, let alone anything personal.

Instead, by starting your own business, you will not only unlock your true potential, but you will also potentially be doing something that will free from a typical working woman’s lifestyle.

Don’t limit yourself! Just go for it!

Reason #3: You Never Know the Hidden Opportunity in Society, Unless if You Try!

Many Japanese women want to do more with their lives, but feel limited by society. And some may have so much raw talent that they don’t even realize.

But if you take some positive actions towards unleashing your creativity on a daily basis, you will begin to see the realm of possibilities expanding around you. By starting and enabling your unique talent, you will make all the difference in becoming one step closer to starting your own business.

After all, you never know the hidden opportunities that await you in Japanese society. And the business, itself, doesn’t need to be big. But by creating something, you are activating the potential to be in the right place at the right time.

As they say, your entire life could change in one instant. So, why not try?

And It’s a Wrap

Mimi knows from personal experience that having multiple businesses and initiatives is the most freeing thing in the world. And that’s why she’s working hard and constantly busy to make her dreams a reality.

Waking up at 5 or 6 am every day and sleeping around midnight, Mimi works extremely hard to manage both her career and family. No one is saying that her task is an easy feat. However, the more she takes on, the more time seems to be less of an issue.

When working towards her life goals and mission, Mimi cheerfully takes on one challenge after another, never letting anything get to her. Plus, she is inspired the most by her two children, who are smart, athletic, and creative!

Thus for the sake of her own life, those of her children, and other single parents in Japanese society, Mimi works hard.

Thank you very much for reading this article! Enjoy The Art of Love by Mimi!


This article was originally published on Women2.0 on December 20th, 2016. 

Enjoyed it? Read more about other impressive, female entrepreneurs with their own words of wisdom, perspective, and ideas.