Principles of Reflexology at your feet with Kenkoh

This brand has applied ancient healing principles to the designs of traditional Japanese shoes. Kenkoh has a unique massaging nodule technology that stimulates the feet from toes to heels. This creates an even blood supply in the entire foot, whereas regular sandals just cause the blood to remain in one area. Rola Sullivan is the Managing Director Europe, Middle East & Africa, Asia-Pacific – Kenkoh. In this interview with Rola, we learn more about the Principles of Reflexology at your feet with Kenkoh.

1.How did you enter the franchise business?

Kenkoh’s vision is to foster an overall state of wellbeing and happiness to people around the world, by helping them walk better in different stages of their lives. Over the years, Kenkoh has built a successful model starting with innovative technology, tailored shoe styles to our markets, creative shop designs in line with our Japanese heritage, and a toolkit of sales and marketing standards. As we already had strong partnerships in place, and a proven business model, as well as a strong demand for Kenkoh partnerships, it was the right time to take the next step and invite potential franchisees to join our team, and our vision.

2.Where and how did the idea of your concept come from?

In 1949, Mr. Kyu-kichi Yamanashi established a small shoe factory, manufacturing traditional Japanese Geta footwear in the provincial town of Shizuoka in Japan. After suffering from tuberculosis, Mr. Kyu-kichi began to experiment with ancient oriental feet treatments including ‘take-fumi’ – walking on bamboo shoots – and ‘soku-sin-do’ Japanese acupressure. The impact on his health was remarkable. Mr. Yamanashi made a dramatic recovery and got inspired to apply these ancient healing principles into the designs of traditional Japanese shoes, and that is when the idea for natural healing in footwear was born.

3.What inspired the brand name?

Kenkoh translates to “health” in Japanese, and it is this philosophy that guides the brand’s designs and vision to this day.

4.What is the story behind the brand’s logo?

The name Kenkoh which means “health” in Japanese, was born in 1965. The Kenkoh logo and name are a testament to our commitment to a holistic approach to health, using the traditional Japanese wisdom to heal the body the natural way. Today, the Yamanashi family continues to design and manufacture Kenkoh using the highest craftsmanship and technology standards, with the aim of promoting an overall state of wellbeing and happiness.


5.What makes your brand different from your competitors?

Kenkoh is the inventor of the massage sandal inspired by the art of reflexology. Each pair of Kenkoh footwear has almost 1,000 rubber nodules which are designed and clinically proven to stimulate the foot’s reflex points in order to revitalize the body, improve circulation, better posture, restore overall balance and improve one’s mood. We are proud of our Japanese heritage and the precision and quality of our manufacturing.

6.What are the essential qualities that you look for in a franchisee?

We look for partners who share our passion to improve people’s quality of life through better footwear. They should ideally have a commercial and retail background, previous management experience and the ability to manage and grow a standalone Kenkoh location in close cooperation with the head office team. Managing a Kenkoh franchise is a full-time job, and Kenkoh is looking for partners who are dedicated, team players, and are passionate about the brand & vision.


7.How long does it take, on average, for your franchisee to realize their investment?

The franchisee should be able to realize his investment from year 2.

8.What was the major challenge you faced in your career, and how did you overcome it?

Navigating COVID-19 has been a tough challenge, but one that we have learned from. When COVID-19 began to spread, it was tough because our retail stores were affected by the lack of footfall. However, we realized we needed to pivot certain aspects of our business including online, marketing tactics, and job roles so that we were able to come out stronger than ever. With the changes we made, our business model has proven its sustainability with strong online growth and we continue to open new locations.

8.1 What is your best achievement?

I am very proud to say that behind Kenkoh’s success is a highly dedicated and passionate team. Seeing the amazing work behind the scenes to spread the Kenkoh concept and philosophy around the world is a great source of pride. Our latest achievement was the launch of the first Kenkoh shop in the Indian market in 2020. I am looking forward to many more successful ventures in the months to come.

9.How does your business day start?

The first thing I do every morning is to wear my Kenkoh sliders as I am getting ready for work. This starts my day off right by boosting the circulation in my feet, leaving me ready to take on the day.

10.What was your best moment throughout your franchise career?

One moment that stands out is when we tailor-made a sandal for our partner in Saudi Arabia, based on local tastes and traditions and launched it successfully into the market. This shows how much we support our partners and are there to help them grow the business.

11.Where do you see your brand in the next 5 years?

We are currently further expanding our business into Europe and Asia, and within the next five years, I would like to see Kenkoh working with some strong partners in those regions, helping people of all ages keep their feet and bodies healthy.

12.Any tips you want to impart to our readers who want to be in the franchise industry?

The biggest advice I can give you is not to run before you can walk. Make sure all the basics of your business are up and running successfully before you start to expand. You need to have proven success stories, a strong & unique brand proposition, and a documented system that can be rolled out and duplicated across continents before you start to franchise. Also, make sure to be ready to offer lots of post-launch support, as franchisees are just extensions to your business, and their success is yours.

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