From Enjoyment to Connection: Creating Joy with Unused Cosmetics

Tokyo Sogyo NET Interview
Tanaka Hisanori, MANGATA Co., Ltd.

Siblings Join Forces: Combining Merchandise and Cosmetics Research for a New Business

I chose a career in cosmetics research and development because I wanted to follow a path less traveled. While my peers went job-hunting, I pursued graduate studies and opted for a research role in the cosmetics field, an uncommon choice for men at the time, instead of a general research institute. In an industry known for its glamour, I aspired to leverage my expertise not only to enhance people's appearances but also to nurture inner beauty and confidence.

I built up a comprehensive skill set and specialized knowledge through approximately seven years in development. Then I began contemplating the next chapter of my career, ultimately leading to my decision to launch my own business.


My sister, who co-founded MANGATA with me, had a background in the merchandise industry. Watching her use eyeshadow for drawing and creating colorful candles, I got the idea of repurposing unused cosmetics as art supplies. Surprisingly, 86.3 percent of cosmetics users in Japan have unused products, and nearly half of these are discarded. This dilemma occurs alongside the significant volume of cosmetics that are disposed of by cosmetics companies before they are put on the market.

To address the issue of cosmetic waste, we developed the SminkArt Kit, a product designed for fun. While ensuring the safety of cosmetics suitable for direct skin application, we were determined to craft a coloring material that would maximize the nuances of these available cosmetics.

Entrepreneurship in Tokyo: Leveraging Business Support Initiatives for Startup Success

Although I had a background in R&D, I knew little of marketing or branding when I decided to start a business. For help, I went to an SME consultant at Tokyo Sogyo Station. Armed with a rudimentary business plan, I consulted with their expert, who provided invaluable advice and assisted in refining my plan.

Since this was going to be a new product, one of my concerns was market size. However, the guidance on creating a target persona was instrumental in shaping my product concept. It was eye-opening to realize the potential of addressing issues related to discarded cosmetics, finding solutions, and incorporating them into our products to build a business.

I remain committed to the concept of developing businesses rooted in addressing real-world challenges rather than solely relying on technology.

In addition to formulating our business plan, we sought guidance from professionals at the Tokyo Sogyo Stationon various aspects of entrepreneurship. This included consultations on loans, grants, and meetings with tax accountants and judicial scriveners. We successfully completed our registration with the Tokyo One-Stop Business Establishment Center, which offered invaluable assistance with administrative procedures related to launching our business. We fully leveraged the support from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government for business startups.

Photo: iStock

Pivoting Amidst a Pandemic: Adapting to a B2B Approach

One of the challenges we encountered was the outbreak of the COVID-19 just a few months after our launch. Our original plan was to offer hands-on product experiences, as we believed in showcasing our products through direct interaction rather than verbal explanations. However, due to the pandemic, we were unable to host events as we planned. We also faced significant delays in overseas deliveries.

We adopted several strategies in response. We initiated the sales through our e-commerce platform and ventured into crowdfunding campaigns. We maintained an active presence on social media, which eventually led to a feature on TV. This increased visibility allowed more people to learn about us.

Although our journey took a bit longer than anticipated, we have now started receiving inquiries from other businesses. As a result, we have successfully transitioned to a B2B-oriented approach, aligning with our original goals.

Thanks to the growing recognition and trust we've earned, we now source cosmetics from nine companies as valuable materials for our products. These cosmetics encapsulate the unique expertise of each company, even though they were originally slated for disposal. Additionally, we collaborate on events with other companies that have approached us, offering individuals the opportunity to enjoy and make use of cosmetics they no longer require.

Fostering Fun Cosmetic Repurposing Products

Now that our business is flourishing, we are embarking on projects to address the issue of waste cosmetics in a more fundamental manner. For instance, we are currently collaborating with various companies to develop printing inks and oil-based pens that incorporate cosmetics as ingredients. As color materials, we use cosmetics that were going to be discarded. Each batch results in unique colors that can never be replicated. Interestingly, more and more people are embracing the charm of producing limited edition colors with each iteration, reflecting a shift in societal values.

Our aim is to create versatile products that harness cosmetics as coloring materials, tapping into the underused cosmetics that would otherwise be discarded.

While we are increasingly aware of SDGs and sustainability, our primary focus remains on delivering the joy of using the colors from our cosmetics to our customers. Ideally, the pleasure derived from using them will encourage their continued use, ultimately benefiting the environment. While achieving zero-waste cosmetics may be our long-term goal at MANGATA, our current approach is centered on making the most efficient use of cosmetics produced today.


Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

 Aspiring entrepreneurs should seek support for starting a business, even if their exact path is unclear. By engaging with resources like Tokyo Sogyo Station, you can absorb valuable insights and navigate challenges. Through this process, your vision and direction will likely become clearer over time.

I have been fortunate to steer my career in the direction I initially wanted. Following my days as a corporate employee, where I often produced predetermined products, I am grateful for venturing into entrepreneurship. It has allowed me to pursue what I truly enjoy, challenge myself, and find a greater sense of fulfillment. Of course, there are moments of uncertainty, but for someone like me who seeks a unique path, starting a business has provided the opportunity to pursue my aspirations and lead a more enriching life.

In hindsight, I wish I had sought their guidance earlier, instead of contemplating my journey in solitude. If you are considering entrepreneurship, I encourage you to take that first step.

Tokyo Sogyo Station

This is a business start-up support center jointly operated by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Tokyo Metropolitan Small and Medium Enterprise Support Center. It is designed to introduce individuals to the world of entrepreneurship. If you're interested in learning more about starting a business, meeting experienced entrepreneurs, or launching your own venture, we recommend starting your journey at Startup Hub Tokyo and Startup Hub Tokyo TAMA.
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Tanaka Hisanori MANGATA Co., Ltd. 

After completing his graduate studies at the University of Tokyo, Tanaka worked in cosmetics R&D for about seven years at Albion. On September 20, 2019, he founded MANGATA Co., Ltd. There, he spearheaded the development of the 'SminkArt Kit,' a unique product enabling users to repurpose their used cosmetics into paints. He actively engages in sales and event planning collaborations with various organizations.
MANGATA Co., Ltd. website
*This article was originally published on "Tokyo Sogyo NET."