From Bees to Balm – MM Apothecary
I’m a fan of all things natural as long as they are authentic and effective.
I first met Reina Hirayama at my stand at the Tokyo Farmers Market, where I was selling home made essential oil blends. Attracted by the scents, she came over and we talked organic beauty, oils and life in Japan.
Reina is originally from the cutest little beach front town, just outside of Tokyo called Kamakura. She now lives her life as mother of two young boys in Tokyo. Having a sister and a husband with very sensitive skin, she is continuously seeking for clean, natural skincare items, and organic food.
She started her working career as part of a foreign capital company in Tokyo, where she experienced the importance of creating a healthy work-life balance. She was meant to be connected to the founder of MM Apothecary, who strongly believes that anything you put on your skin has to be clean as you eat it, as it is the food to your skin. Ever since she discovered this brand, Reina has been the Distributor&Director of MM Apothecary in Japan. Another working Mum - girl boss I so much admire for putting it all under one hat.
We had a conversation on the industry and the whole organic movement in Japan:
What about the beauty Industry still tugs at your heartstrings today?
Generally speaking, Japan is getting more conscious about the ingredients of cosmetics recently. However, our most interesting topic is “BIHAKU” (whitening/brightening) we all want white beautiful skin. BIHAKU related cosmetics sell well here!
What sparked the birth of Sweet Bee Balm Japan?
This is to be honest, birth of my first son. Since he came into my life, I wanted to give him the clean, safe, good quality skincare and nutritious food that boosts up immune system that would protect him.
How do you recharge from modern day burnout?
We all try to get out of Tokyo, even for a day trip down to Kamakura, get locally grown organic veggies from farmers, get some ocean breeze and come back!
When we have a day or two, we drive to Karuizawa, get some fresh air, play tennis “seriously focused” with my husband, get locally grown fresh veggies from the farmers on the way back!
What advice would you give to a change maker aspiring to turn his/her beauty products into a sustainable one ?
I believe in this product and it may take some time but correct branding would be more important than sales figures for the future. Sweet Bee Magic’s ingredients are medicinal level and very effective. Very carefully handled, made only in their apothecary. This is the most important fact.
The only advice to give would be “please create more honey/propolis related items such as soaps, body wash, toothpaste etc,” we want more!
What gives you the greatest sense of hope for our world right now?
I read an article recently that every second farmer in Japan wants to become “organic”. They know about the bad effects of pesticides and they get the bad allergies and sickness from handling pesticides. However, the distributor and retailer are not as conscious, they want competitive price to sell cheaper than store next door. I really hope that organically grown vegetables will be distributed as “standard” of food industry in the near future.
What places in Tokyo and Kamakura can you recommend for a good meal, beauty treatment or quiet moment align with your organic principles?
I highly recommend, early morning walk in Meiji Jingu Shrine wood, or Kamakura temple visiting such as walk around “Meigetsuin” (temple well known for their beautiful hydrangea garden).
Food wise, I like traditional soba place called “Kosuzu” near the Kamakura station, where you can find a very good dessert as well, or “Sangosho” on the beach line which is famous for Beef Curry and Beef Salad with locally grown vegetables. And last but not least, GARDEN HOUSE is nice café near the Kamakura station.
My grandmother and her family was in German style “Ham & Sausage” business back in early 1900’s. “Kamakura Ham by Tomioka Shokai” has been loved by the locals and throughout Japan for more than 100 years. This Café has various locally crafted menus, and they are all goo