100 Next-Era Leaders in Asia 2017-2018 -The region's best brightest, most promising-

X-bal Co., Ltd.

President Kusumi Okuda

Message to young people
Focus on what you are good at, and share tasks and responsibilities to achieve goals effectively.

Scent reflects your personality. Those are the key words OR This is the key phrase that I always had in mind as I introduced my company’s signature perfume to the world.

The perfume is named Joli Cadeau meaning a “lovely gift” in French. I had wanted to produce perfumes for more than 10 years until I finally found an OEM company that I could trust. They spent hours trying to realize what I had in mind. There was no room for compromise in making something that would reflect the wearer’s personality.

The time was right, too. I went all the way from Osaka to Tokyo, Shizuoka and other places looking for a factory that I could work with when I first started thinking about making perfumes, but I could not find one that satisfied my needs.

I decided to put it on the back burner while my company took over my parents’ real estate business and concentrated on improving its financial situation. When the time is not right, things just do not fall into place, no matter how hard you may try.

However, when I happened to think about it again after many years, it took no time for me at all to bump into the right people, and things started rolling. The finances of the company had also become healthier by then so we could invest in the new business.

The OEM company I found was located in Osaka, just a little way from my office. Nowadays, the fact that you do not have your own factory to produce goods does not mean that you cannot become a producer. All you have to do is to find people who are as serious as you are about making your ideas take shape.

Before I started my business, I taught at a junior high school for 17 years where I learned many things that have helped me later in my life as a business owner.

Class management and lesson planning have a lot in common with business management. Making the best use of 50 minutes in class is just like giving the most effective business presentation.

When I was well-prepared for the lesson, everything went well and students stayed focused. When my preparation was lacking, I just rambled on and lost the class. You face similar instances when you are running a company.

There were so many elements and skills in education that could be translated into business insights and strategies. That is why I thought I could be useful in the world of business after I quit teaching at the age of 41.

Teaching in junior high school is a physically demanding job. I thought it was time to make way for a younger generation and restart as a business owner, which I can continue to be for the rest of my life.

Our company has no age restrictions for employees either. Happiness in life, I think, is all about having somewhere to go and things to do. The sense of being needed keeps you young and active.

Some of my employees are over retirement age, but I have no intention of letting them go as long as they are willing to work. Their experience is beneficial to the company. Generation diversity stimulates lively exchanges of ideas.

Speaking of diversity, I got to know a widowed female president who had taken over her husband’s company without much knowledge about business, but it turned out that her female perspective, intuition and sophistication brought a breath of fresh air to the company.

Gender, age and background diversity are indispensable in picking up what consumers want.

I will try to continue my endeavor as an entrepreneur. There is no such thing as perfection. Trial and error is what makes the process interesting.


X-bal Co., Ltd.
Production of perfumes and cosmetics