A tête-à-tête WITH MEGUMI OSHIBA OF MOTO KOKO


 

Based in Asia, Megumi Oshiba is a self-made, e-commerce success story. Here we talk to the mama of 2 about life in Japan, the challenges of being an online retailer with young kids under foot, and the perks of having a small business. 

Writer: Rebecca Walker, The Conscious Wordsmith

When and why did you launch Moto Koko?

I moved to Sydney in 2019 due to my husband’s job. He was asked to station there for 2 years, so I followed him with a 2-year-old toddler and a 6-month-old baby.

In June 2020, I bought my first pair of Mumsie overalls (The Bella). Actually, I had been eyeing them for about 4 months and when I wore them for the first time I wished I’d bought them sooner! It was that amazing. It was such a game changer for me. I’d been struggling to take two little kids out in an environment I wasn’t used to. The Mumsie overalls literally saved my parenting life.

When I recommended these to my friends in Japan, I realised nobody knew about them. So I did a little bit of research and was surprised to find that no shops or companies in Japan carried these baby-wearing overalls.

For many Japanese people, buying things online from a non-Japanese webpage can be challenging. I myself needed 4 months to make the first purchase. That’s when I thought, “Oh, I should open a store to introduce The Mumsie overalls to Japanese mums!”.

From there, it was so fast. I opened the online store in October after 3 months of preparation. My main purpose was to be an ambassador of The Mumsie to the Japanese market. That was how Moto Koko started.

 

Your store focuses on small, independent labels. Why is it important to you to support small business owners?

I love how small business shows its own unique style and its love towards the products. And I love how Australia is so conscious about domestic brands and local businesses.

Along with The Mumsie overalls, I got to know a lot of other beautiful Australian brands while I was living in Sydney. I wanted Japanese mums to know about them too and wanted to find a way to introduce them to the Japanese market.

There are so many things I learned after opening the store. Running a business is very challenging! So I want to support small business owners as much as I can.

My store also carries some American brands. Mainly because I lived in the United States when I was younger, so I like supporting small American business as well.

You recently moved back to Japan after living in Australia. How has that transition been for you and your family? 

I was only in Sydney for 2 years. Truthfully, I didn’t want to come back to Japan. I really wanted to raise my kids in Sydney. Australia is such a beautiful country, so I actually felt very sentimental after returning to Japan. Moving overseas during the pandemic was not a pleasant experience. We had to endure so much paperwork and covid tests, as well as quarantine with 2 little kids.

My children often say they want to go back to Australia, but they are now settling into their new environment in Japan which I’m grateful for. I’ve held onto the beautiful memories I made in Australia and thanks to my collaboration with The Mumsie, feel that a piece of my heart is always in Australia! 

You are a mama of 2 young ones. How do you juggle mum & business life?

Oh my, it’s so hard!!!! I struggle every day! I wish there was 30 hours in a day, so that I could actually get things done. I always have my kids around me when I’m working. I’m such a multi-tasker. I play with my kids while I pack orders and do all the housework at the same time. It’s crazy.

My youngest is starting a kinder in 4 months (sob), so I’ll have a bit more time for work soon.

I try to have a little bit of ‘me time’ at night though. Even if it’s just 10 minutes, it’s nice to lie on the sofa and enjoy some ice cream. I also work out at home for about 30 minutes every day which is a nice ritual for me.

What are some of the challenges you’ve had to overcome since launching your business?

Selling clothing online can be very challenging, especially here in Japan. Japanese customers are known to leave strict reviews, so it’s difficult to satisfy them without serving them in person. I have been working on creating easy-to-understand product pages and guiding them online to the right size. It was very difficult to gain customer trust in my shop at first, but the amazing word-of-mouth helped me to be where I am now.

What is the best thing about having a small business?

After launching Moto Koko, now I have more appreciation towards all services and people who are involved in them. Since I run the shop all by myself, I have to rely on many services. From a logistics company to a graphic design company. Prior to running mu business, I hadn’t realized that the world is full of many amazing services. 

Also, getting know many new people online is such a wonderful experience. I feel blessed to be able to meet these people and create new connections online. I wouldn’t have known this if I didn’t open Moto Koko. It really broadened my world.

You sell lots of Mumsie’s via your online store. We’ve heard babies aren’t the only thing people carry in them. What else are they used for?

Oh yes, customers in Japan are very unique! Some people carry their pets in the bibs, like dogs and cats. Other people carry their favourite plushies toy. At Tokyo Disney Resort Park, some Disney fans like to carry their favourite Disney plushie with them in the bib. They take pictures of the plushie at the park and upload them on Instagram.

Actually sometimes I put my daughter’s toys in the bib because she refuses to carry them by herself while we are out (even though she insists on bringing them and promises to carry them herself!).

What are your future plans for the business?

I’d like to try meeting my customers and sell products in-person. A pop-up store could be a great place to start!

My goal is to spread The Mumsie love in Japan. The other day, when I took my kids to the park, a mum asked me, “Are those baby-carrying overalls that you’re wearing? I saw them on Instagram!” I was so excited to actually feel that more mums in Japan know about The Mumsie overalls!

To check out Megumi’s online store visit https://motokoko.thebase.in/