Life as an entrepreneur is all about reinventing yourself over and over again. As a yoga teacher and Japanese Cosmo Facial practitioner, who has lived in several countries, Mariko Hiyama is no stranger to constant change.
Originally from Japan, she had settled in the heart of Europe to start her business, only to repack her suitcase and follow her family to Hong Kong one year after starting her company FACE & SOUL. Here she shares her journey from employee to business owner, her advices on adapting to different business cultures and offline, face to face, interactions are still the best marketing channel we have.
Mariko, can you tell us how you started Face & Soul?
I started FACE & SOUL thanks to various people whom I have met during my life.
Probably the very beginning of the journey goes back to more than 30 years ago. When I was little, my mother always said, “Mariko, your lips are pointing down. Lift them up.
Then happiness and good luck will come to you.” It became sort of my mantra. Just making “a hint of smile on the lips” really changes the mood. Try it… wouldn’t you feel better?
So ever since I heard my mother’s word, I started thinking that the face is a reflection of our mind… I also vividly remember the moment when I told myself to study something about the “Face”. It was about 9 years ago when I was visiting a chiropractor in Japan. The doctor pressed some acupressure points on my face. Guess what happened… my eyesight instantly improved and my eyes opened up bigger! I would say that was the tipping point. I told myself that I would one day study about the mechanisms of the face. I just did not know when and how at the time. Later, I took a path to become a yoga instructor and I studied anatomy and yoga philosophy. Then suddenly it clicked!
Facial muscle and body muscle are all connected. Our state of mind & body really reflects on our face. Ever since, I have been studying from anatomy to healing methods in order to improve one’s quality of life from inside and outside, not just moving the body through yoga asana. I wanted to have a holistic approach toward “Well-Being” as well as “improving one’s body & mind conditions”. That’s how I named my approach “FACE & SOUL”.
What is Japanese Cosmo Facial and what interested you in it?
Japanese Cosmo Facial is a unique treatment. I sometimes call it “Face Yoga” as the positive impact on both mind & body can be as strong as Yoga Asana practice.
The technique is based on ancient traditions from South America, Vietnam and Japan. Japanese Cosmo Facial stimulates the lymphatic system and balance facial muscle tone. The technique is a combination of oriental methods targeting reflex points and meridians on the face to affect both body and face from inside out.
It works on rejuvenation of your face, balancing facial muscles, giving positive impact on the whole body, emotional balancing etc. The great thing about this treatment is “ALL NATURAL” and “ALL HAND” which are one of great healing tools. Your face will be instantly lifted after 1 treatment and, as you receive the treatment constantly, the transformation will be dramatic when you compare before and after treatments. Japanese Cosmo Facial could also work as part of rehabilitation for those who have facial paralysis. I am also adding Facial Reflex Therapy on my FACE & SOUL menu. Facial Reflex Therapy has more comprehensive approaches… really an amazing alternative therapy.
What are the steps to become a Japanese Cosmo Facial practitioner?
Candidates must complete an intensive course in order to receive a diploma issued by the Institute Lone Sorensen. Japanese Cosmo Facial Courses are organized & provided by the institute’s official instructors who have been trained directly by the founder Lone Sorensen.
I am one of the instructors and am authorized to give Japanese Cosmo Facial Courses in Luxembourg, Hong Kong, Thailand, Switzerland, and Italy.
The course includes the 13-steps of the treatment, meaning and function of reflex points/zones, additional treatments techniques and more. I will give a course in May in Luxembourg for those who are looking at career development in the health & beauty industry.
What was one challenge that you faced as an entrepreneur and how did you got over it?
Shifting my main business hub from Europe to Asia was a challenge. I basically needed to let go of my business that I created in Europe. But it was my decision to follow my family’s relocation and I told myself to take this change as an opportunity. Indeed, the change gave me a great opportunity to learn and to think about a model of how I want to run projects remotely. So far it is working thanks to those who support my work.
Can you tell us more about your recent move to Hong Kong, what were the steps you had to take to remarket your business in a completely different country?
I strongly believe that “from people to people” is always key for better marketing. I choose to work with people who run businesses based on a “good cause” philosophy. They support my work and I support their work in order to spread the word about our work. If their and my clients can benefit in terms of “well-being” from what we do, that would be more than anything we could wish for. Of course, digital can help spread words but in the end “words of mouth” through experiences and strong local networks are extremely important to me, especially given the nature of my services.
What are three things you learned while running your own business?
- Letting Go
- Being Patient
- That there are really different ways of doing business in different countries
Can you give us some examples of different ways of doing business in different countries? How does it affect your work and business in general?
One of the best examples is a marketing method. I sometimes have to change my mindset to an aggressive style in Hong Kong which I never did in Luxembourg. If it were in Japan, it would be a different story – I would need to choose a humble way to approach the market. It is simply because of different mentality and culture. Having lived and worked in various countries, identifying different tendencies is not so difficult for me.
Can you tell us more about how you plan to work remotely?
Due to the nature of my work, I first meet people whom I would work together with, including customers and students, or speak via Skype or Telephone. Once both parties agree on intentions or details, it becomes easier to communicate via email. I also use my traveling opportunities including holidays in order to meet people and speak with people for new projects or continuous collaborations as much as I can.
What is one accomplishment you are most proud of?
I think that I am always in a process of improvement…
Receiving papers such as diplomas and certifications are accomplishments but they are rather milestones with knowledge & experiences to me.
What advice would you give to your 20 years old self?
I would be happy to say “Things happen for a reason. Continue working on things that coming to you.”
Who do you see as an innovator in your industry and why?
Definitely my teacher, Lone Sorensen. She continues to introduce powerful therapy techniques. Moreover, her work towards people in need is one of the most remarkable signs of compassion.
What was the best life and business advice someone has ever given to you and why does it resonate with you?
I learned a great lesson from my families in Japan and Italy. Everyone in my family works hard and takes care of others.
What I learned from them was to have compassion, gratitude and sometimes forgiveness towards others. That’s how they live and work. I see great results through them when someone works based on such beliefs.
What are your plans for the coming years?
If I decide to stay in one country/city for longer time, I would like to create a main hub center for FACE & SOUL education and continue to introduce alternative methods to improve body & mind conditions. Otherwise, I will maintain a “Well-Being” therapist Nomad life/work style.
Three favorite book on your bookshelf?
The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell – I have been carrying around this book since 2000 wherever I move.
TAO by Hua-Ching Ni – this book wraps up elements that I am integrating into my works.
The last one is actually a cooking book focused on soups. I think the title of the book tells me so much about the author’s love toward life and food. “for whom you love – soup recipe for life ” written by Mrs Yoshiko Tatsumi (she is actually over 80y and she still active in her field). Her soup book gives me great ideas from traditional Japanese soups to international soups.
Five fun facts about you :
I am not sure what are fun facts of me but I noticed that many people found interesting when I reveal that I particularly enjoy;
Food, Wines, Latin Dance (Salsa, Merengue, Bachata etc…), winter sports and martial arts. I guess people who see me as a yoga instructor or therapist associate me with a calm, peaceful, yogic lifestyle personality…
If you could have dinner with three people (actual or historical/ real or fictional) who would it be and what would you talk about?
Mahatma Gandhi, Dalai Lama, and Pope Francis. I would love to hear what these three great people would talk over the current society and how they could work together.
Who inspires you?
Eric Standop – a “face reader”. I have learned a lot from him in regards to “Face” and “Health” without touching the Face. Eric reads from the history of the person to health conditions from faces. We have a common theme, which is “Face”, and we both go beyond the “Face”. I look forward to learning more and working with him in the near future.
What is your daily routine?
Morning routine: Start the day with Qi Gong & 15 – 20m Yoga Asana practice as well as muscle tension release exercises.
Favorite breakfast: Coconut Milk Cappuccino & a small portion of fruits or traditional Japanese breakfast if available
Work schedule: My work schedules changes every day as I work with individual clients. In terms of deskwork, since I communicate with business partners & clients in Europe, I normally start working around 15:00 Hong Kong time when people in Europe start checking their emails.
Favorite lunch: Literally anything… as far as I can eat lots of fresh vegetables
Favorite workout: BUDOKON Yoga & Qi Gong
Evening routine before going to bed: Turn off my iPhone!
Photography by Francesca Mey