We had the chance to chat with Tatcha founder Vicky Tsai! In part 1 of our interview, Vicky reveals why Japan is the cornerstone of beauty rituals and how Tatcha is helping with disaster relief abroad.
B: Tatcha has blown up in the past year--Aburatorigami blotting papers have seriously developed a cult following. What do you think most attracts people to the brand?
"I wish someone would tell me. Honestly, I'm completely overwhelmed by the response from customers and press. In Asia, blotting papers are a standard--we use them daily as kids! Busy women are missing simplicity in their routine, and TATCHA blotting papers are the kind of product that keeps you looking fresh, fits in your bag, and doesn't cake on excess product to your face. It's also about quality--when people know something is made in Japan, they understand that its created with a certain eye towards quality and perfection that's hard to find anywhere else in the world. That, and they're truly holding a piece of history."
B: Holding a piece from history? Tell me more.
"Aburatorigami papers go back 300 years. Once upon a time, I heard the best beauty secrets originated in Japan with the geisha, and I decided to go see if that was true. I found myself in a little community in South Kyoto where artisans were hammering gold leaf by hand. The papers that lay between the gold are the Aburatorigami—abaca leaf infused with gold flakes. It was Mecca. In Japan, this special paper was so treasured that only the imperial court, theater actors, and esteemed geishas could use them (and trust me, geishas are very picky ladies--they'll only use the best) I wanted to share these papers with the world, but they were hesitant. So that's when I decided to take a risk, sold my engagement ring and used it to buy a serious quantity of these little beauty treasures."
B: You sold your engagement ring to buy the aburatorigami?
"It was the only way I could prove to the artisans that I was dedicated to honoring their craft. I literally had stacks of boxes of this special paper sitting in my dining room."
B: These papers are that special?
"Absolutely. It's unusual to find something truly historical. The further we get along in the future, we must realize that there's wisdom in the past to look for. I think it's a beautiful concept to perpetuate old rituals and secrets, and if people in Japan still use it after 300 years, it's working."
B: Why are you so intrigued by Japanese beauty rituals? Do you plan on exploring other Asian countries?
"Japanese women have the longest life expectancy of females in the world, with an average of around 85 years. Beyond that, they're famous for never wrinkling or aging. My point of view: 'I'll have what she's having'
The reason that we focus on Japan is because our inspiration comes from 300 years ago. Japan and America are similar because they import the best practices, knowledge and art. Japan synthesizes everything is takes in to make something better and their own. For instance, when Chinese writing, religion, and herbal medicine came to Japan, they completely transformed it and gave it their signature style. Japanese beauty is a kaleidoscope of secrets from all over Asia. They continuously search for the best around Asia and don't limit themselves to Tokyo. In this sense, our products are truly combination of all the best Asian beauty secrets from the past hundreds of years."
B: You and your company are so connected to Japan. How do you feel about everything that's happening over there right now--the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown?
"Our team abroad hasn't suffered any losses. I'm mostly concerned for the citizens of Japan--the whole nuclear meltdown, the destruction, it's absolutely heartbreaking and devastating.The whole reason I started TATCHA was to pay homage to a country I have profound respect for, I'm heartbroken.
We've put together a Japan Benefit Gift Set to support Save the Children, a humanitarian organization dedicated to the littlest survivors. Our goal is to raise $10,000 to donate. 100% of profits are going to relief efforts. We're trying to do everything in our power to help."