“My goal is to be someone recognised internationally so I can go back to Japan and shake people up,” says the founder of Asian cooking school Sachie's Kitchen, Sachie Nomura.
“Kiwis love and enjoy their lifestyle and put their family first. In Japan they put work first and I think that needs to be changed because if you don’t enjoy life you die early.
“I have to be internationally recognised. Women come second to men in Japan; they’d say, ‘who are you and what have you done in the market?’ [My business] is a tool I can use to become someone.”
Nomura’s original business plan, dated 26 February 2010, sits in a pink frame on the wall of her company's HQ, based in Auckland's Parnell. The strategies she and husband Nick Siu, a commercial lawyer in a former life, mapped out to corner the local Asian cooking class market are highlighted in green — the website, the classes, the cookbook, products, tours to Japan to film a TV show.
Two and a bit years down the track and much of that has been achieved.
Sachie’s Kitchen started out to bridge the gap between Kiwi and Asian culture, giving Kiwis a fun and authentic experience of Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese cooking.
The company tweets, has nearly 900 Facebook fans and has been on morning TV and radio. A 10-part Sachie’s Kitchen TV series — documenting Nomura’s culinary travels — is set to hit Prime TV early 2013.
“It’s always about being authentic and accessible to people. It’s something edgy, current and unique," says Nomura, who came from Aichi, Japan, to New Zealand as a student 15 years ago.
"We almost don’t believe in normal advertising. You could stick to one thing, but once the TV show is on, there’s the cookbook and the website and something will happen on Facebook or the radio. You can’t really take anything away. You want to maximise everything to reach a lot of people.”
Now, it's about thinking even bigger to become world famous beyond New Zealand. On a blackboard in Nomura and Siu's home, above the kitchens in Parnell, another version of the business plan is being mapped.
“We’re now forced to think bigger than we have ever before since the possibilities have now become very, very real,” says the 33-year-old. “It’s not about fame and fortune. All our staff are from different countries and love their cultures. We just want to share that and TV is an amazing medium to achieve that to a significant audience.”
The young company has had phenomenal growth, but Nomura is determined she won't be a flash in the pan.
“We feel we have built our brand on the right fundamentals, by creating a sustainable business, happy staff, engagement with our customers and building a really loyal following,” she says.
“People may get tired of the drama of reality cooking shows, but we feel there is still a cornerstone for a blend of fun and education. We keep thinking about who we are as people and what we want to stand for. Our succession plan is really determined by the quality of the team. This feeling of ownership will hopefully mean our message carries on long past us.”
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