Business Owners Report: Yumi Color Studio

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Your name: Yumi Toko

How many years have you been living life in the Foreign Service?

11 years

Where have you been posted?

Taiwan, Shanghai, Washington DC, Tokyo, Washington DC and Kyiv.

Briefly describe your career path:

After graduating from college in Tokyo, Japan, I earned my master’s degree in International Education/Intercultural Management at the School for International Training in Vermont, U.S. A fluent speaker of Japanese and English with a working knowledge of Chinese, I’ve combined my educational background with my experience living in various countries and cultures to conduct workshops for expats on ways to overcome culture shock. While in Shanghai, I also attended a specialized school for color consulting and, after two years, was certified as a personal color consultant.

During the past 7 years, I have conducted personal color analysis for over 400 clients in Shanghai, Tokyo, and the U.S. During color analysis sessions, I provide custom-tailored advice on the types of color that match each client – whether for clothes, make-up, or hair. The goal of personal color analysis is to bring out the beauty of a person through the use of colors that suit him or her.

Since I wanted to combine my color analysis work with my intercultural background, I’ve also hosted workshops on ways to build a positive and strong self-image, particularly for expats living in foreign cultures. Being an expat overseas can be a challenge but I’d like to show that by gaining confidence through the discovery of one’s “best colors,” it is possible to overcome the challenges of transition and culture shock, and to have a fulfilling experience in a foreign environment.

What is the name of your business?

Yumi Color Studio

Briefly describe your business:

Clients are invited to my home for a two-hour personal color analysis during which they discover what colors complement and help radiate their natural tone. They will also learn how different colors change their image and which colors suit them best for make-up, accessories, hair, and clothes. They may choose to buy a set of color swatches (samples) especially assembled for them, which they can use when they go shopping for clothes and accessories.

For a 1.5-hour workshop usually with a small group of 5-10, clients learn not only their best shade of color but also how they can change the impression they give others by wearing different colors. Having this basic knowledge can help them build positive self image and express themselves anywhere they go.

When did you start this business?

30 November 2008

What makes you stand out from your competitors? What makes your business unique?

My personal color analysis is not only about how you look outside. Colors are one of the tools we can all use to build self-confidence and express ourselves more fully. It is also one aspect of self-identity, something we can carry with us wherever we go.

How does your business fit into the Foreign Service lifestyle?

The skills are very portable and it provides me an opportunity to expand my circle of friends and acquaintances among not only expats but also the locals.

What has been your biggest challenge with your business so far?

It is more difficult to find clients when back in the Washington DC area. I feel people are much more flexible and eager to try new things when overseas. Also people often go back to full-time work in the States, making it difficult for them to find time during week.

What has been your biggest accomplishment so far?

Clients’ smiles! It’s really humbling to hear comments such as “you changed my life!” or “I think of you every morning when I choose what to wear.”

What resources have been particularly helpful to you when you were starting your business?

Which resources do you use to maintain your business?

Besides the websites listed above, I use newsletters, Embassy community sites or expat community sites (e.g., Facebook pages) at post to advertise. Other than that, it’s mainly word-of-mouth. A happy client leads to more happy clients!

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