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#072 HIRO Co., Ltd.Pincushions(Ishikawa)2018/05/30

““Pincushions” with a difference from Kanazawa, where traditional crafts are alive

Offering the “Genuine goodness” to everyday life with their sewing technology
handed down from generation to generation

There are a remnant of the castle town and elegant streets during the Edo period in Kanazawa, Ishikawa. Lots of traditional crafts and performing arts are handed down here because the lords of the Kaga domain, who governed Kanazawa, promoted culture projects. HIRO Co., Ltd. has a history of being founded by the grandmother with one treadle sewing machine about 85 years ago and passes along the sewing technology handed down from generation to generation. Today, they not only sew clothes but also produce small articles made only by sewing experts.

This is a pincushion with a Issunboshi (one of the old tales of Japan) motif and a Yamanaka lacquerware; “Pin Story - Issunboshi -.”

Pincushions made with Kutani wares are cute with various combination.

There are some special sewing machines to deal with various orders in the factory located next to the office.

As she has the founder grandmother and the father inherited the company, sewing has been familiar to her from her birth. “I have been acquainted with making goods not only clothes but also baking bread and making ceramics since I was a child. So, I naturally decided to pass along my father’s business in the future,” talked the CEO of HIRO, Ms. Hiromi ONUMA. When she joined her family business several decades ago after graduation of school and training at another company, she began doing piecework of sewing by receiving orders from major apparel makers. However, as the orders were gradually placed with firms in other countries, the deadline were shortened, and price was reduced, the sewing business had entered a new era different from “before.”

Ms. Hiromi ONUMA studied in Australia during her school days and keeps trying to find her field in overseas for a long time.

While she was suffering from this new era like others, she came to think about issues in the sewing business and the role of manufacturers more than before. “I want to pay the appropriate price for sewing jobs based on the quality of works. I want to propose my own products, not just wait for the orders. That is why I have come to think of starting my original brand. About 9 years ago, when my father’s company agreed to merge, I took over ‘HIRO Co., Ltd.’ and started my original brand. And about 5 years ago, I quitted doing all ‘pieceworks’ of sewing several same products according to orders. However, I had never developed markets for selling my products while I had a skill to make good products. I had greatly suffered during a few years of ‘planting seeds,’” said Ms. Onuma, looking back her past. With her groping for an original product made only by “HIRO,” she naturally developed collaborative products with traditional crafts of her hometown, Kanazawa.

“DECO-T” with Noto crepe was first released as the original brand.

Only a little accident led to develop pincushions with kutani wares and evoked responses beyond expectation.

The release of new products which may open a new path,
benefited by “Monozukuri of Japan” movement

The first original brand released in 2010 was “DECO-T” with Noto crepe. Although it seems easy to make at first sight, elastic and non elastic materials cause sewing slippage and tend to stretch differently through many times of washing. That is why this t-shirt needs high quality to make. The product-planning and product-making ability of the hard-released product was highly esteemed and won the grand prize of “Kanazawa brand” in 2011. After that, she keeps releasing other products such as “100YOU shawl” on which 100 people put in 100 ways. A big change happened when she took part in a product fair with pincushions with traditional crafts of Kanazawa, kutani ware. “One day my mother was about disposing of chokos (small cups for sake) of Kutani ware. Thinking that wasting, I utilized them as pincushions and sold them at a product fair. In fact, we sold them a lot more than clothes. I felt a new possibility of sewing which was different from clothes,” said Ms. Onuma.

They made more than 1000 pincushions per year one by one by hand.

The point is tightening the thread by a force of appropriate strength at the end.

Cases for pins are also hand-made with selected materials and size.

The cases are particular about a specific “way to pin.”

As monozukuri (making of things) of Japan came under the spotlight recently, monozukuri of HIRO and products which had already been released, such as “pincushion of Kutani ware” and “small sewing box”, also came to draw more attentions. “I think that was just good timing. My real wish has been to hand over technology and feelings for issues of sewing business and originality, which has been handed down since my grandmother’s days. So, I was so happy that my business became to go smoothly step by step with help of many people. Finally, I felt I could understand the true meaning of my father’s word: ‘cordial monozukuri,’” told Ms. Onuma with a smile. Imaging their customers, they has been particular about everything of monozukuri even just a thread. Supported by “Ishikawa resource utilization fund for industry” and “Japan Brand" Development Assistance Program” of Ishikawa, their products have attracted people both in Japan and abroad.

Basically they use No.60 or No.80 of “ACE CROWN.”

They store hundreds kinds of colorful and vivid threads.

The hexagonal-shaped handicrafts instrument for piercing holes in cloth and thread-cutting scissors ordered from Niigata are especially selected.

Proactive development of overseas markets
and monozukuri in the future

Ms.Onuma started developing overseas markets proactively from an early period. The cause of that was because she got a million yen as a supplementary prize of the grand prize of “Kanazawa brand.” Winning the prize led to winning of “crafts of the Renaissance project ‘WAO.’” Selected by Ms. Yoshiko Ikoma, a fashion journalist. When she visited Paris and New York, “I felt reaction from people in exhibitions and differences of thinking. Partly because of my experience studying overseas in my school days. I came to think that I wanted to do business with foreigners and get various stimulations from them. Since then, I have utilized the reward to participate in overseas exhibitions while saving as much as the cost. We registered to Rin crossing in 2015 and are trying to make as much encounters and chances as possible in Japan as well.”

Hiro’s original sewing box, “small sewing box” is popular as a gift.

They even work on the direction of their original Kutani ware, having designers draw original pictures by hand from scratch.

This “okamochi (carrying box) set” with a pincushion, a plate, and pins was resulted from a order from a customer in San Francisco requesting Kutani ware without lead.

“If the import regulations of EU is relaxed in the future, I want to sell these awesome sewing products of Japan in overseas. I want to make a pincushion with Momotaro motif following Issunboshi and Kaguyahime. Furthermore, I want to make clothes including kimono with Kutani ware pattern!” We were surprised by plenty of ideas of Ms.Onuma. We look forward to her future products made by her smile and power of connecting people, figuring out of craftsmen’s sincere thoughts.

Their latest product released at the gift show held last fall: “Pin Story - Kaguyahime -”

#072 HIRO Co., Ltd.

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