Aya Ohzeki was still just a 17-year-old high school student when she founded her necktie company.
“A company will go down if it fails to earn money, so it’s important to try to keep creating something special and unique that no one else can copy,” the 21-year-old president of Noble Apex Inc. said.
Ohzeki, born in 1992, had wanted to start a business since she was in elementary school.
In November 2006, she took part in the Kanagawa Business Audition, a business competition whose participants were mainly presidents of small and midsize companies. She was in her final year of junior high school.
Ohzeki won a couple of awards at the age of 14, becoming the youngest winner in the competition.
“The awards gave me enormous confidence and courage,” she said on the company’s website.
But the private high school she first attended forbade her to start a company.
After repeated negotiations failed to change the policy, she decided to leave the school instead of abandoning her dream of starting a business.
“I wasn’t able to give up,” she said.
Ohzeki then entered Tokyo Metropolitan Koishikawa High School, which allowed student business initiatives. She completed her basic business plan along with a sample of a tie by October 2009 and founded Noble Apex the following January.
“I want to become a Coco Chanel of the Heisei Era,” she says on her website.
Ohzeki said a thin metal chain in the tie that goes around the wearer’s neck makes Noble Apex’s ties more comfortable than regular ones. They look neat and tidy even when loosened.
Since the ties can also be separated into two parts, allowing the wearer to stay cool, the company claims they match the Japanese government’s Cool Biz program that encourages company employees to dress casually to conserve energy.
Ties of similar design are also available for women, according to the Tokyo-based company.
Ohzeki said she has already designed more than 300 ties and has made more than 1,000 samples.
To come up with unique designs, she said, whenever in town she always searches for hints of the fashion in vogue and what makes life easier and more convenient.