Upon entering Kaede Kimonos, our eyes widen in awe at the colors of the garments on the wall. There are clothing racks filled with kimonos of all different patterns: white cranes embroidered on gold fabric, pastel florals, retro green-and-yellow neon prints.
Kaede Kimonos is a fashion consultancy and boutique that specializes in spreading the knowledge of the kimonos and other Japanese attire. So just what exactly is a kimono? If your first thought was a Coachella outfit, you’d be wrong. The kimono is a traditional garment worn in Japan for various occasions. And if you visit Kaede Kimonos, you can learn everything you need to know about the garment: how to wear it properly, where to get it, and why it’s so special.
In addition to being a store, Kaede also acts as the consultancy for many entertainment wardrobe companies. If you’ve recently watched the hit Netflix shows Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt or You, you would have seen some of their kimonos.
The consultancy is also a Wish Local Store Partner. Located in the heart of Manhattan, Kaede completes some of the largest numbers of pickups in the entire program, so we had to know more about their business.
We asked owner Raymond Mongroo, “what inspired you to start your business?”
“I’m from Trinidad, from a mixed background, and Japanese is the smallest part of that background. For our anniversary, I wanted to do a themed wedding based on different aspects of my family culture. We wanted to start with Japanese, and I found myself having a hard time finding Japanese Kimonos in New York. They are around, but it’s hard to get if you’re not Japanese or don’t have strong enough connections.”
So Raymond began his company with the goal of spreading awareness of the kimono’s significance. He and his co-founder Ken started by talking with kimono companies from Japan. The Japanese embassy in New York even came down to help instruct them. Now Kaede has grown into a bustling business.
Raymond continues, “A lot of people are interested in the culture, so our goals are to educate people. A lot of people don’t understand the styles. If you can see a white collar, that’s actually the underwear that [should be hidden and] goes underneath. So we come in and kind of help with that. Our co-founder is Ken Inouye. We have a full team: three dressers, one senior stylist, makeup artists, and teachers who teach others how to wear Kimonos—the full works!”
We asked him, “Why did you join the Wish Local Program?”
He tells us, “We partnered with Wish because we wanted to help people get to know that there is a kimono store in NY. The foot traffic is one of the biggest benefits. People come in and get to learn stuff.”
“Foot traffic is one of the biggest benefits. People come in and get to learn stuff.”
Kaede has quite a few regular Wish customers (roughly 13), and two users who come every week.
Raymond continues, “We have this one customer who comes in, and his thing is our dog, Taylor.”
“He came in to get a Wish package just before Christmas, and his dog had died the day before. He’s come here two or three times since just to see Taylor. Wish customers come in and think it’s interesting. [That’s why] we created Kaede, to help others understand the tradition and the real usage of kimonos beyond a bathrobe.”
We asked Raymond, “Do you have any advice for new stores who are just starting the program?’
He tells us, “The most important thing is to get organized early. One of the mistakes that I made earlier is that you assume you’ll get a certain amount of packages. But you have to plan for people who forget they have Wish packages. Plan your storage and your organization.”
Their flawless organization system helps them get through a ton of pickups each month.
“My showroom manager is a big fan of Marie Kondo.” Raymond tells us, “Every time she comes in, she reorganizes.”
As Kaede Kimonos builds their name in the community through their work, marketing, and participation in programs like Wish Local, they help spread the knowledge and traditions of the Japanese culture.
Raymond explained to us how he chose the name Kaede, and their business is perfectly named.
“Kaede means maple tree, and there are variations of the maple tree on every continent. It’s universal. Culture is universal and should be shared and appreciated, as long as it’s understood.”
Wish Local’s most significant benefit is our mutual sharing of customers. When we introduce Wish’s over 90 million monthly active users to local businesses, such as Kaede, we can share stories, cultures, and bring people together.