How One Young Unificationist Turned Her Passion into a Paycheck
Kaori Becker was just 27 years old when she started her own business. Nestled in their San Leandro kitchen, Kaori and her mother, Yukiko, began teaching friends and loved ones how to make mochi, a traditional Japanese treat molded by pounding glutinous sweet rice into a paste. What started as a fun side-hustle for a busy teacher expanded into Kaori’s Kitchen, an experience highly sought-after by both individuals and corporations looking for hands-on team building activities.
What makes her business so successful? “People no longer want to buy stuff,” Kaori explains. “These days, people are spending their money on memorable, meaningful experiences.” By tapping into the experience-based industry and using her heritage as credibility, Kaori was able to share her creativity with the world.
Have you ever wanted to share your own talents with others, but wondered where to begin? Kaori believes that she can teach others to be successful experience hosts by following in the footsteps of her own business model. Her new book, Let Your Passion Pay the Bills: How to Start an Experience-Based Business in 30 Days, is a testament to the lessons she learned while turning her side hustle into a full-blown career. In her book, she walks aspiring entrepreneurs through everything from creating and developing an idea, to marketing successfully, and to finally bring the experience to corporations.
Kaori’s road to turning her passion into a career began in college and graduate school. Kaori loved experimenting with food and learning to cook traditional Japanese dishes that her mother had made when she was growing up. Inspired to learn that her own grandmother had owned a ramen shop in Japan, Kaori decided to dive deeper into her roots. While still in school, Kaori taught herself how to make ramen from scratch and began teaching cooking classes on the side. After receiving her master’s in education from Ohio State University, Kaori moved back to California and became a high school English teacher. While there, Kaori shared her love of cooking with her students, teaching them to make traditional Japanese dishes in her after-school club.
Kaori found her career as a teacher to be both challenging and rewarding. Still, she wondered if there was an alternative to the long, demanding hours. Besides, Kaori knew that her true passions were in the kitchen. With the inspiration of her grandmother and the encouragement of her husband, Kaori began advertising authentic Japanese cooking classes on Airbnb Experiences. In the beginning, she offered free classes to family and friends in exchange for reviews. Over the weeks and months, her business continued to spread, and employers began reaching out for private events.
Three years later, Kaori has quit her 9 to 5 job and now works full-time for Kaori’s Kitchen, which offers mochi, ramen, and sushi classes. Today, Kaori brings in more profit annually than she ever made as a teacher. Her book is set to launch November 2019. To become a donor and secure your copy early, check out her Kickstarter here.
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