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Mayumi Ishii: “Launching a business is essentially an adventure in problem solving”

Don’t try to do everything, because it’s not possible. I am impatient by nature and I’d like to have everything done, yesterday. But as an entrepreneur, I have a long to-do list. It can feel endless. I have learned how to come to terms with this. I had the pleasure of interviewing Mayumi Ishii. Mayumi Ishii […]

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Don’t try to do everything, because it’s not possible. I am impatient by nature and I’d like to have everything done, yesterday. But as an entrepreneur, I have a long to-do list. It can feel endless. I have learned how to come to terms with this.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Mayumi Ishii. Mayumi Ishii is the US Chief of Chrysmela. After a career in consulting and investment banking, Mayumi made a late-career shift to running US operations for Chrysmela, the world’s most secure earring back. Mayumi currently lives in Los Angeles where in addition to running operations for Chrysmela, she is an avid golfer, with the goal to play all Top 100 golf courses in the world with her husband. She currently has 10 courses left!


Thank you so much for doing this with us Mayumi! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Thank you for having me! My adventure with Chrysmela began totally by accident, a very lucky accident. I had no experience in retail, nor the jewelry business in my entire “big business” career. I’ve worked in management consulting, including 3 years at McKinsey, been an investment banking analyst covering high tech in Silicon Valley, and then went on to start and run my own consulting firm, MIV Consulting for 20 years, where I helped Silicon Valley startups partner with investors in Japan.

I was not really looking for a new career path or product to launch, although I was always curious how direct-to-consumer works for small brands and startups. When I discovered this amazing innovation on a business trip to Japan, I fell in love with the product, and felt an urgency that I had to introduce Chrysmela, the most secure earring back with patented technology. I have personally lost my share of earrings at inopportune times like on my way to the airport or in a dark restaurant, and knew the market potential of Chrysmela in the US and other countries. I went on to win a business contest on MSNBC, which landed Chrysmela a spot on Home Shopping Network twice in 2018. Being on television was scary, but also so thrilling and rewarding!

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Have you ever lost an earring? Think of those earrings you are too scared to wear outside of the house. Or do you have uneven piercings that look funny when you wear large pearl studs? Chrysmela solves all these earring problems with patented secure locking technology.

Think about it. It’s the 21st Century, and we are solving most of our daily problems with technology — be it an iPhone, a Roomba, or with AI enabled on our devices. But why are we (86% of individuals surveyed by Chrysmela) still losing earrings? Why are the beautiful earrings you love being risked with the use of disposable backs, or locked away in a jewelry box, never to see the light of day?

We’re flipping the jewelry industry on its head, and solving a 5,000 year old issue with Chrysmela: the issue of lost earrings. The same way cars didn’t have seatbelts when they were first made, earring backs often don’t have the structural integrity to hold the weight of an earring, causing them to get lost, or ear lobes to sag. We’re offering the safety of a seatbelt and fashion freedom — the ability to wear whatever earrings you want, wherever the day takes you without the worry of losing them.

So many of our customers say, “where has this been all my life?” “I wish I had known about Chrysmela before,”

We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

I needed so much help from so many people, because I was new to retail, jewelry, customer service — just about every aspect of building Chrysmela’s business. From day one, I’ve tried to find other entrepreneurs who are talented, knowledgeable, and share my work ethic and work together. I am so lucky that there is a deep bench of many professionals in PR, social media marketing, and design who work with startups as independent consultants. Most professionals I work with are far younger than I am, but I love learning something new everyday from them. They all are my mentors. It’s fun and inspiring. And boy, they work fast! I love it. I feel like I finally have my entire team working at the same speed.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

Say yes and show up: If invited to an opportunity, go and see what happens. I almost didn’t apply to the MSNBC business contest, thinking “who would pick me, there’s no chance.” I went on to win it, which led me to 2 live shows on Home Shopping Network.

No guts no glory: Until very recently, I was very weary of spending much on advertising. Some ads were delivering results, but they weren’t fully optimized. Then, a very successful entrepreneur friend kindly had a 30 minute chat with me, and he said, oh so it’s working, why don’t you double the ad budget. Very skeptical, I did, and it delivered.

Don’t try to do everything, because it’s not possible. I am impatient by nature and I’d like to have everything done, yesterday. But as an entrepreneur, I have a long to-do list. It can feel endless. I have learned how to come to terms with this.

How are you going to shake things up next?

We want to partner with talented jewelry designers to create new earring jackets and front-and-back earring sets. Earring jackets go behind your ears, to add some glamour by creating a front-and back style. Because Chrysmela automatically fits and locks any studs, our earring jackets will expand your earring wardrobe with infinite combinations. It also opens new real estate for the jewelry industry: behind the ears! We think this could be a massive trend and shift in the jewelry industry.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

There are so many, but here is my current favorite. Second Life, the postcast by Hillary Kerr, WhoWhatWear’s co-founder. It’s like a case study of a career change that can come at any age. I love learning how to connect the dots in your life path, and shift gears to jump onto new, exciting opportunities.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Fashion Freedom. Protect yourself and your favorite things, proactively. I believe freedom comes from feeling secure. Seat belts in cars were not a norm several decades ago. Now it’s mandatory. Like that, we should no longer worry about losing an earring, ever. The KonMari method resonated with so many of us, because we realized we should live with what we truly love and treasure those select items. At Chrysmela, we want people to feel beautiful and fabulous at all times — not hindered by worry of losing something valuable. Whether we’re sitting at home in sweats under quarantine, or having a fabulous beachfront vacation when this is all over, we want people to live life to the fullest, and enjoy the fashion freedom they desire.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Launching a business is essentially an adventure in problem solving.” Sir Richard Branson.

I am living it and having fun with it, everyday.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Come see us on Instagram and Pinterest @Chrysmela, and at www.chrysme.la Facebook @ChrysmelaCatch

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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