Josie Natori, Founder and CEO, The Natori Company: I’ve always believed that my two biggest assets are: No. 1, I’m a woman, and No. 2, I’m Asian. My philosophy is: Indulgence is a necessity. It’s not a whim. I work hard, I deserve it.
Josie Natori: That’s what Natori is based on, on selling to women who really like to take care of themselves, love themselves, work very hard. Whether you’re a housewife or you’re, you know, working in, have the career, it doesn’t matter.
Josie Natori, in a meeting: Okay, great. Get to work! (laughter)
Josie Natori: I knew nothing about the industry, but in many ways, I think ignorance was bliss and so I really approached it instinctively and learned on the job. I really take pride that we are one of the few still family-owned businesses in a very, very tough industry. I couldn’t do it, of course, without the support, without the organization, the team, certainly my family.
Ken Natori, president, The Natori Company, talking to Josie Natori: Because we factored in ordering the fabric and then…
Ken Natori: To my parents’ credit, they never pressured me to join the business and we never really talked about the business that much. I really came in with my own views and was given the leeway to establish new businesses and to address some of these new opportunities.
Josie Natori: It’s really been a fabulous thing to be able to have Kenneth here. Kenneth has been able to bring practices into the company that is much-needed. He’s built the e-com business. We feel that even though we’re 40 years old, that the company — the best is yet to come and that, you know, we are doing everything to make sure that the company is relevant to the next generation
Man in a meeting with Josie Natori: You think that one is more?
Josie Natori, in a meeting: Of course, you’re going to hit it there, you’re going to see it.
Josie Natori: I am very fortunate that I come from a family of very strong women, where my grandmother taught me from age 3 that to be independent and never have to depend on anyone and be your own person. And when the opportunity came to go to college in the United States, I told my parents I would like to go to the United States and then I did. I majored in economics and decided to work in Wall Street and had an amazing career of nine years in Wall Street, where I was fortunate enough to be the first woman vice president in investment banking at Merrill Lynch.
Josie Natori, in a meeting: The numbers are, have greatly improved.
Josie Natori: Although my background is in Wall Street and finance, I’ve had to face what every other business owner has to in terms of the growing pains of the business. Being part of the Wells Fargo family to me has been a plus for Natori.
Ken Natori: You know, knowing that we have Wells Fargo there and knowing that we trust the people there and that we’re with an established bank has really made life easier for us.
Douglas Powell Taliaferro, regional vice president, Wells Fargo: She’s been a valued client for many, many years and she’s an ideal client for us. We have this mutual respect. We understand her business, we trust and admire the way that she’s run her business and she knows that we’ll be there for her when she needs us.
Josie Natori: You can’t be in this business without a strong financial partner, and I think Wells Fargo gives us that. There is a humanity there and there is a caring. To me, Wells Fargo is like family.