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KITAO: History of a century-old company Vol.1 (1919 ~ 1950)

Updated: May 26, 2022

KITAO has a rich history starting over 100 years ago in 1919.

Kitao Cosmetics Old Album

To begin, after the turn of the 19th century in Japan, new technology abounded and there was rapid industrial growth. This led to a new problem in beauty - the pollution from the new plants caused skin dullness and accelerated aging. (We know now that is free radical damage!) So, Nakayama Taiyodo, cosmetic maker, worked with chemist Kunishiro Kawabata. Together, they created a nourishing beauty cream and Kitao Skincare was born!

Kunishiro got private funding to bring the cosmetics to market. These men believed strongly not only in the products they created, but that the trust of the customer would be paramount to the success of the business. Wanting a personal touch with the customer, they didn’t go through a wholesaler and directly dealt with the leading stores in the region. There were some inefficiencies, but the strong relationships built with a quality product grew the company quickly.

But World War 2 ravaged many businesses, and KITAO was not an exception.

KITAO needed to start from scratch after losing everything, including an overseas factories. So our founders built the new brand “Robin” under the Kitao Cosmetics name.

Not only was Robin a trendy, fashion-forward brand, but KITAO started making products for other companies through OEM to help other companies grow.

We will share more story on how KITAO made its 100 years anniversary and its principles that's never been changed in decades in the next blog post. Stay tuned!

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