Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Fumio Tashiro, Owner of MIRROR IN THE WOODS, LLC, located in Brooklyn, NY, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I run a tea and sake house in Gowanus, Brooklyn. It's a tiny space that stands quietly in the hustle and bustle of the city. If you step into it, you will be surrounded by a different dimension of art space, and you will be able to relax with a good feeling immediately. We offer tea and herbal teas with a wide variety of health benefits in mind, as well as healthy dishes made with organic ingredients. In addition to traditional Japanese sake, we have created original and unique sake menus such as tea infuse sake, sake cocktails, and sake slush.
We are particular about the color and design and made it highly artistic.
In this casual atmosphere, I would like to spread the goodness of Japanese sake, especially to young people and women.
Tell us about yourself
Thirty years ago, I left Japan and came to New York alone. I wanted to challenge myself as a jazz bass player. Then I had the opportunity to meet the respected jazz bassist Milt Hinton. Even though he was a legendary, world-renowned musician, he spoke kindly to me. It was a great encounter that changed my life.
In a real experience living in New York, I felt the differences in race, skin color, religion, and culture, and through real life, he was able to learn a lot from it. After all, in order to coexist, it is inevitable to have a sincere relationship with the community, and I think it is important to be considerate and tolerant of others.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I was able to create an atmosphere by designing a store that is casual, a little funky, and full of art, which is a characteristic of this area.
By successfully combining the traditional Japanese drink sake with interesting ingredients, we were able to create a new and more familiar drink.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Initially, it was a cafe centered on live music performances and art exhibitions, but with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the business format was forced to change drastically in the dark. We urgently created food and drink and take-out menus. We continued to operate in response to the ever-changing situation. Every day was survival.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
I've been playing music all the time, and I'm not a typical businessman, so I don't think I can give you good advice. However, I think that music production and live performances have a lot in common with cooking. For example, you need good materials, ideas, and a sense of balance. I always want to provide something unique and interesting, which requires a constant challenge to new things.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I have launched a YouTube channel comprising interviews with local musicians, artists, and activists. I use this platform to share New York City music and culture with a global audience. We have even added Japanese subtitles to make it more accessible to those in my homeland of Japan. The series is an excellent example of my collaborative spirit and beliefs. The photos for the title sequence, the music, and the hosting duties are all established Gowanus artists - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUemix_ZNKP6bOJLsgbvYyw.
I also continue to support and collaborate with other neighborhood businesses for events and opportunities.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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