A graduate interview - Yuri Yasuda

Profile

 

 Born 1983 in Tokyo. Graduated from Sophia University with a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology of the Faculty of Comparative Cultures. Yureeka is the founder of Wonderily Co., Ltd (2007 est), an import / export company focused on licensing luxury food & beverage brands. She is also the CEO of The Tea Time Company (2015 est), which operates her flagship store in Takashimaya, Nagoya and coordinates popups and catering events in Japan. A certified tea sommelier of the UK Tea Academy and Japan brand Ambassador of Pont des Arts Wines.

 Born in Tokyo and raised in New York, Yureeka has been highlighted by numerous media for her animated character and unique background. Her interests include contemporary art and architecture in which she contributes essays and photography to cultural platforms. Tokyo Art office Inc established in 2017.

 

 

<Questions>

· Why did you choose Sophia University?

・How do you think about your campus life? ( What was most enjoyable things?/What did you do best?)

· About current work (including what you want to challenge from now on)

· A word to freshmen entering in April

 

 

After graduating international school, I considered going back to NY for university. However, deep down inside, I wanted a chance to immerse myself in Japan further and engage with this culture more. When I moved from the states in 1996 as a teenager, I may have struggled from a slight identity crisis. And it was finally in my later years of high school that I really began to appreciate my own country. 

Sophia University offered the perfect environment for me to comfortably keep studying in my native language, which is English- while being exposed to Japanese life. 

 

For me, it was incredibly easy to adjust since I literally had close to 20 or so fellow international school friends enrolling my freshman year. It felt almost like a continuation of high school. In a sense, I regret not involving myself more with other students and broadening my student network. Having said that, I am happy that I was able to build a lasting relationship with professors. When I couldn't make it to class due to. My media work and or oversea travels, we would often meet outside the classroom and discuss international relations, my career paths, cultural appropriation, and potential business plans. It was a great way to bounce off ideas and refresh my hyper brain. I’m so grateful that I am in touch with my macro economics teacher to this day, and still have an annual lunch “meeting” to stay connected.

 

I founded Wonderlily Co an import/export/distribution company and currently have the license to 5 brands with a growing portfolio. Harney&sons New York teas have been the biggest success, now retailed and or served in over 350 locations nationwide. We have done collaboration projects with luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Lexus, Sony, and have supplied corporate gifts to the American Embassy, Christian Dior, TEDx, and so forth. I opened a permanent tea store in Takashimaya Nagoya 2 years ago and also operate events and catering under my second company, The Tea Time Company. I am the Japan Brand Ambassador of Pont des Arts Wine, a modern concept brand that unites fine wine and art. I’m also a regular contributor of Japanese cultural content to Billionaire magazine and Larry’s List media platforms. This late spring 2017, I’ll be endeavoring in launching my own sake brand mainly for export. This is just some of my business activities at the top of my head. 

I’m the type that creates opportunity rather than waits for it to come knocking on the door.  It may not be the most efficient, but as a result, I end up juggling a lot! My work has truly been a learning experience. Basically I started from zero, so from a business perspective- registering a company, understanding cashflow and the dynamics of my industry, staffing, warehousing, the dos and donts, the who's who, the how tos, - everything was learnt hands on and on site. This process allowed me to know my limits and strengths, to appreciate the kindness and support of others (it’s impossible to do this all alone- emotionally and physically), to realize that commitment and passion is everything. I don't regret the weeks I was locked away in the office shuffling through customs paperwork and samples of boxes while getting 3-4 hours a sleep a night. I could have gone to grad school like my sisters and not “worked”- but it was what felt right to me back then. Here was no choice within myself. I was high life and making things happen with my own hands was so rewarding. I didn't think twice. I was slightly neurotic now that I think  about the work hours, but  I’m so grateful for my staff members, friends, mentors, and  also my mother (the moral support kept me afloat) that was in it with me. I know that I am who I am because of my entrepreneurial “career”. I would have never understood the level of energy, capital, time, dedication it takes to organize a simple popup event or open a small store or launch an original product line. All of which I have done and have learnt valuable lessons of patience and persistence. Kindness and honesty I wholeheartedly believe is the foundation of a healthy business,

I respect and applaud every entrepreneur and business owner out there, whatever their scale or success, since it really takes inner strength and a strong willpower.

 

Your university days should be a time to explore and engage with the real world. HAVE FUN, but also make wise use of your time. Make friends from school and outside campus life. Make smart mistakes. Realize what you don't like to narrow down what you like if you find yourself lost. I think there are really no regrets in anything you do with 100% of your mind and soul.  It’s a great feeling and experience gained in your youth is one of the most valuable assets you can have which will undeniably be resourceful in your adulthood. Learn a language, travel, seek achievement,keep exploring. However small a goal, what’s important is that you commit till the very end.