What is the history of Shiro?
The president has a long history in the beauty industry, working with natural skincare ingredients for over 30 years. The company first came into the market under a different name, Laurel, in 2009 with a collection of skincare products. In 2015, we changed the name to Shiro, which is a combination of the president’s first name and her son’s initials.
What makes Shiro and its products distinctly Japanese?
We use mostly Japanese ingredients but also source from other places, with suppliers that have a similar mindset. It is important to us to have a personal relationship with these producers. Most of the process is done by hand, with love. There is no effort spared in bringing out the best of these ingredients, which we present in the most simplest way.
Japanese women like step-by-step skincare. Our products incorporate these, from pre-cleansing and toning to moisturizing and then makeup. Our ingredients are made with the intention to bring out the brightest complexion—a very Japanese practice—using ingredients such as sake katsu and kombu. Our makeup is developed to create the “perfect face” that appears flawless, light in tone, and with a lot of highlighter.
Why do you think J-Beauty appeals to an international market?
Everyone loves “Made in Japan” because Japanese products are high quality and we care so much about ingredients, production, packaging, and people’s skin to make everyone happy. The Japanese have a reputation for looking young, and people outside of Japan are curious to know how we achieve this. Everyone wants beautiful skin quality that is clear, bright, moisturized, and smooth-textured and to look young forever, like Japanese women.
Why did Shiro decide to expand into the American market?
In general, the economy has not been as prosperous as in the past. Asian beauty has been gaining popularity in the West
so it seems like a good time to expand. We opened the store in New York this past January  and hope to open more US stores in the future.
Does Shiro position itself differently in the USA, vs in Japan?
In Japan, we have 23 stores. Globally we have 4 stores—3 in London and the newly opened store in New York. In Japan, our stores are more full service, with a salon/spa, and cafe. We sell home goods and a full range of skincare and cosmetics. Outside of Japan, our stores have skincare and limited cosmetics. The biggest challenge in our international expansion is not being able to sell products that have not been approved [by the FDA]. Some ingredients are not found in these markets so it will take time for us to be able to sell our full collection of products.
Photo: Shiro Beauty