Anello opens its first S'pore store in Jewel
Founder says he believes it is the best location
He never thought that success would be like this when he started his equipment manufacturing business, Carrot Company, in 1988 at the age of 22.
Fast forward 31 years later, Mr Takeshi Yoshida also owns Anello, one of the most popular bag brands in Asia.
He joined his father's hardware architecture business after completing high school, but he wanted to explore his own interests and run his own business.
In 2005, during the backpack boom in Japan, he established the Anello brand of bags and accessories, beloved by fans for its minimalist chic, trendiness and timeless quality that can go from college to the boardroom.
The 53-year-old told The New Paper in Japanese through a translator: "Manufacturing backpacks was cheaper than clothes. The minimum quantity to manufacture clothes was 10,000 as compared with bags, which was only 300.
"And it was a good opportunity as there were not many businesses making them then."
Mr Yoshida was in town on Tuesday last week for the grand opening of Anello's flagship store — its first in Singapore — at Jewel Changi Airport.
There are currently more than 140 Anello shops throughout Asia, including Thailand, the Philippines, China and Japan.
He said: "We have been wanting and looking for a good location for more than two years but never got a chance. Jewel is right next to Changi Airport which is always one of the five best airports every year and the biggest hub airport in Asia. To expand our brand to the world and to meet inbound demand, I believe Jewel is the best location."
The company hopes to expand to Europe, North America and South America in the next five years, said Mr Yoshida.
On the sacrifices he has made for the brand, the father of two said that while he did not have enough time to sleep, eat or spend with his family, it was a happy period as he enjoyed what he did and found it meaningful.
But what was most challenging was finding the right staff for the right positions to build the business, a process that took 10 years.
Mr Yoshida's advice to young entrepreneurs? Be kind and take care of the people around you.
"They are the ones who will help you," he added.
Clamping down on counterfeits has also been a concern. Mr Yoshida said his team has been working with the Singapore Police Force's Intellectual Property Rights Branch since 2017 to stop the import of fake products and crackdown on both sellers and makers.
He added: "I feel awful and sorry for the distributors who have the passion to expand our brand, so we have to get all the counterfeits out of the market as quickly as we can."