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OUR STORY ~ My Thirty-Year Struggle with Allergies ~
I was born outside the city of Nagoya in Aichi Prefecture, Japan. My father ran a calligraphy school from our house, which was always lively with neighborhood kids. My maternal grandparents ran a flower shop in a nearby city. Growing up, I was always surrounded by people, and instinctively became very social from an early age. Perhaps subconsciously influenced by my family’s businesses, from about this time I already had aspirations to run my own shop someday. When I was young, I also learned that I was good at working with my hands, and began sewing and dressmaking.
With classmates and kids attending calligraphy school at our house, it was easy to make friends. However, suffering with asthma, I was told to avoid strenuous activity – advice that often went unheeded and resulted in numerous trips to the hospital. I was more susceptible to asthma attacks as seasons transitioned or if there was a sudden change in barometric pressure. Living with these unpredictable and painful attacks, I remember thinking to myself, “What will help me? What can make these painful situations easier to cope with?” Despite repeated hospitalizations and always carrying an aspirator in my pocket, I managed to play hard and enjoyed an active childhood.
As I entered junior high, my sister and I had more responsibilities around the house. My sister cooked, and I did the laundry, cleaned bathrooms and washed dishes.
Cleaning became my daily, after-school routine. Having gotten physically stronger since my early elementary school days, I wasn’t having as many asthma attacks as before. However, just a few months after entering junior high, the attacks started to come back. Thinking it had to do with environmental changes, I didn’t give it much thought and soldiered on. They got worse. Without knowing the trigger, it became an increasingly frightening situation and I started my desperate search to pinpoint the cause.
My condition kept getting worse and I still couldn’t figure out what was triggering these asthmatic episodes. On days I had an attack or couldn’t manage to get up off of the floor, my sister and mother took care of my share of the chores. As more days like that continued, I recovered physically, but emotionally felt guilty for burdening my family, and was distraught with a sense of hopelessness.
After high school, I attended junior college and eventually started working at a local company. By this time, my asthma attacks were extremely rare, to the point that I had almost forgotten I even had allergies. After getting married and doing more housework, the attacks came back! I started looking for any similarities between the two occurrences. Could it have been the detergent? What’s in detergent that could be causing this? And that is how my long battle with detergent began.
This was before the internet age. I frequented libraries and bookstores to figure out what was causing my distress. Through my research, I learned that I was reacting negatively to synthetic ingredients, fragrances and artificial coloring. These are all elements commonly found in household products like detergents, deodorizers and insecticides that can trigger asthma attacks.
For me, fragrances were the main culprit. Artificial scents that were added to evoke a pleasant reaction, had the adverse effect on me. I started educating myself on aromatherapy and herbs that provide safer, gentler alternatives to synthetic fragrances. And it was at this point that I was finally able to enjoy filling my home with natural, lovely scents without consequence.
Eventually, I was blessed with two sons. Unfortunately, they inherited my allergic sensitivities.
My two sons are also sensitive to scents and suffer from asthma attacks as a result. Although fragrances are the mutual cause, we
respond differently to products. My eldest son suffered from asthma attacks, headaches and nausea when exposed to perfumed bath powders, air fresheners and soaps. My younger son reacted poorly to
odor-eliminating products and often had to hold his breath while using restrooms in hotels, stores and parks.
Since I couldn’t find household products on the market that were tailored to my family’s needs, I took it upon myself to create non-triggering alternatives. Since I always enjoyed working with my hands and creating things, I embarked on my mission by learning how to make soap. Years later, I can now make my own bath powder, creams, shampoo, dishwashing and laundry detergents, bath cleaner, deodorizer and bug spray, in order to limit the amount of allergens within our home as much as possible.
By creating my own cleaning products, we’ve been able to enjoy our daily lives without the fear of recurring allergic asthma. One day, it occurred to me that there may be others struggling with similar issues and how I might be able to help having lived through it myself.
I was officially granted sales permission and authorization to sell my bar soaps. What once made my life a struggle, now seems like an ironic gift, as it has led me to pursue exciting new challenges in life. Turning 60 earlier this year, I viewed it as an optimal starting point to pursue new ambitions. I look forward to channeling my own personal experiences into high-quality products that I am proud to share with the world.