A positive, curious, and successful business woman, mother, and wife, Miki Yamamoto epitomizes the ideal blend of managing both a career and family. In 2011, Miki made her childhood dream — to start her own business — come true, when she opened a stylish bakery in Kameoka called Patisserie Perle or パティスリーペルル.
Impeccably designed, her store features exquisite, ready-made gift boxes and spectacularly-designed goods. Plus, Miki's baking skills even earned her 4th place in a national competition in Japan. With over 10 years of experience, a nationally-recognized baking award, and a year of apprenticeship in France, Miki is a top-notch baker in Kyoto's backyard of Kameoka.
Endorsement From Advocates
I asked her good friend, Akiko Sakai — a local councilwoman and mother — to provide a testimonial. Here's what she had to say.
“From the first time I met Miki Yamamoto, I was enraptured by her exquisitely-designed pastries, her impeccable attention to detail when crafting a one-of-a-kind cakes for customers, and her overall thoughtfulness. Even though her store is located in a quiet, residential area, Miki has no shortage of customers. Fans flock from far away to visit her pastry shop. And even though I live close, I stop by at every chance I get!”
“When I first visited the store, I felt like I was entering a stunning showcase of the most gorgeous pastries I have ever seen. And since then, I've been back to sample some more of the delicious baked goods.”
A Little More About Miki
Recently married, Miki decided to take a huge risk and move to France for a year to study under the best bakers in the field. Leaving everything that she knew and her brand new husband, Miki dove head first into developing and perfecting her skills. By focusing on her craft and working upwards of 10 hours a day, she was able to disregard feelings of homesickness. One year later, Miki returned to Japan as a stronger, more fulfilled, and more skilled baker.
After returning to Japan, Miki began working at a successful bakery, where she stayed for the next 10 years of her life. During those years, she gave birth to a beautiful little girl, and began taking care of household and childcare duties.
Even though her life was quite hectic, Miki knew from the bottom of her heart that she wanted to start her own business — one that would provide her with ultimate flexibility and the ability to be her own boss.
A Little More About Patisserie Perle
Financing her company through personal savings and a small government loan, Miki took the biggest leap of her life, and started her own business.
As a 前向きor forward-looking, positive person, Miki viewed obstacles she faced as an opportunity to grow and a lesson to be learned. That's why she feels like she never really encountered any difficulties — after all, everything was a fun challenge!
With an inherent interest in acquiring more knowledge, and further developing her skills, Miki enjoyed working at her bakery until the wee hours of the night to expand her product line, and add the perfect touch to a customized cake.
Due to her attention to detail and strong desire to make her clients happy, Miki's business quickly became profitable and she was able to repay her debts within a few years. But she couldn't have done it without the amazing support of her family and husband, who provided strategic advice about the business, as well as took care of their child.
After 5 years of running her business by herself, Miki was able to hire her first staff member, who has become an indispensable asset to the company. This move provided her with even more flexibility.
The Macro & Socio-Economic Context of Japanese Society
Understanding Miki's advice for Japanese women, requires us to first look at the macroeconomic context of Japanese society. While Japanese women are increasingly expanding their sphere of influence and obtaining more powerful positions in society, a gender equal society is still a faraway vision.
In my Japanese aunts and uncles generation (born ~1950), the majority of women stopped working right after getting married to take on the important role of managing the household, the finances, the children's education, etc., in what was known as the “M-shaped Curve.” Often, women were encouraged to stop working by their parents, extended family members, and even husband.
As most people are aware, the Japanese economy has been steadily declining over the past few decades, leading to lower salaries across the board. As a result, it has become increasingly challenging for Japanese couples to rely on only one income. For example, out of the small sample set of my 6 married, Japanese video of politicians second cousins, both the husband and wife work at either part-time or full-time jobs.
Whether they enter the workforce or not, many Japanese women are relegated to part-time roles with very low salaries, no benefits, and no career track. And by working full- or part-time, women have less time to take care of all of the household errands, even though they will still be responsible for the majority of it.
Yet, Japan is changing towards a more gender equal society. In an effort to understand what it's like to be a pregnant woman, and to encourage more Japanese men to help out with housework and childcare, politicians in Kyushu wore 16-pound vests. They quickly learned how difficult it is to be a pregnant woman, and became more sympathetic and empathetic towards women.
Not everything can be changed in an instant, but by becoming aware of the macro- and socio-economic shifts in Japanese society, women can make more informed decisions about their future career paths.
Best Advice for Japanese Women
As a mother, wife, and entrepreneur, Miki has a few words of wisdom to share with fellow Japanese women who are considering an alternative career path.
1. Plan Ahead to Create Your Ideal Career
One of the most important things for women all over the world is to plan ahead. Women have the unique ability to give birth, but this window of opportunity is not unlimited. As such, if women would like to have children and start a business, Miki encourages them to plan ahead.
Taking a step back, and determining everything you want to accomplish in life, such as having children, getting married, starting your own business, working for a few years, or obtaining your Masters or Ph.D, is the first step towards creating a life that will make you fulfilled!
2. Work Hard to Make It All Happen!
Miki gave the following advice:「頑張れるときにしっかりと実力をつけること。」“When the time comes to work really hard, apply yourself with everything you've got!” In other words, give it your all and do your vest best!
By working extremely hard with the task right in front of you, and doing your best to enjoy each moment, Miki believes that Japanese women can have it all — a family, a business, and overall satisfaction with the way their lives turned out. After all, we are the playwrights of our own victories!
3. Live Life Abundantly!
As the final words of wisdom, Miki recommended that women enjoy every step of the way.
「企業のプランを立てる共に、自分の人生も豊かに生きることも忘れないこと。」This means that “At the same time as creating your business plan, it's important to remember to live your life abundantly and with no regrets!”
While it's easier said than done, obtaining this goal is much closer and within reach than women realize. With the right timing, ample support from loved ones, and a strong determination, women can make anything happen! And by doing so, Japanese women can act as good role models to the younger generation of women.
The Best Advice Given to Miki
The best piece of advice Miki ever received was:「いい蕾は美しい花が咲く。」Directly translated as, “A good bud will become a beautiful flower,” it means that you do not have to rush. By persevering through the difficulties and remaining patient, you will achieve the goal you set out to accomplish. So don't give up along the way!
Once again, if you ever have a chance to visit Kameoka in Kyoto Prefecture, then grab something delicious to eat at Patisserie Perle. It's definitely worth a visit! You can follow her on Instagram and like her Facebook page.
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