Encyclopedia of niime

niime History

chapter 1

2019 . 01 . 01

Happy New Year.
We hope you enjoy the “niime Encyclopedia” this year as well.
Today, from the first day of the New Year, we would like to begin our new series; the “niime History.”
Tamaki Niime herself will discuss the progress of ‘tamaki niime’ over the past 12 years.

“I would like people to know about the days when I was struggling with pursuing my ideals and how my roots would lead me to the present.”

Taking questions from younger staff now, Tamaki makes opportunities to give a talk at her company. First, how and why was she able to come so far? How did she build her company, and attain the awareness that she has? This is the first chapter of the “niime history”. Discussing the theme of “her desire to become independent”, she thinks back to her struggles and gaining a realization of where she wanted to be.

I didn’t think I was a designer, but I was a pattern maker.

When I met Sakai In high school, I assumed I’d be a pattern maker or something, not a designer. I thought Sakai would be the type of person for making designs because he could create ideas from nothing, making 1 from 0. If I could make my own brand in the future, I thought he would be a designer, and I would take the role of pattern maker. Designers need to have natural-born talents and senses which we cannot get from studying. So I didn’t think I could, and my favourite thing was making patterns. I thought, for mastering patterns, school wasn’t good enough, I needed to work and gain experience. I believed I’d excel at patterns if I had vast experience in creating. That’s why I got worked at Company T, which was a significant firm of the clothing industry.

What I got was a position where I wasn’t needed.

I made a presentation by wearing clothing I made at the company interview. And at the interview, I was told I wouldn’t be a pattern maker, but rather a designer. Because my presentation was about the clothes which were designed and advertised for comfort. They said my presentation was more for that of a designer. (laugh) I told them that I made that pattern as well and would rather be a pattern maker. After all, they hired me as a pattern maker because they thought I seemed to be an interesting worker. Behind the fact they hired many new workers in that big firm, they tended to want pattern makers who could respond to the rapidly shifting mid-career level, basically. I couldn’t just shift gears, which is what they needed at their workplace. I was not given any pattern making work, and my job was helping part-time workers who were assistant pattern makers. That’s why I didn’t have the chance to make patterns, all I did was odd jobs. I wondered why I worked there and was frustrated for about six months. I was not happy.

I appreciate the jobs I enjoyed.

What should I say? It cost a lot of money for anything I did until I got out of vocational school after graduating from college. Buying even a piece of paper or cloth, used up all the money I earned at my part-time job, and also I depended on my parents for all the fees for creating. That’s why I was so excited that I could do that in my work. I felt like if it was ok to have a company pay to provide me with all paper, even a salary and let me do the things I enjoyed. It was like heaven. So as a pattern maker, I was excited to begin work, to be able to make my hobby a job, but people at the working place were always complaining. I thought if I were a customer, I wouldn’t want to wear clothing made by people who just complained all the time. That was apparently the adult society. When I think back, their complaints and gossip weren’t seriously irritating, they just made sarcastic remarks which I should have let it slide. However, they made what I thought to be heaven, more like hell. I appreciated the work I was given, so I didn’t understand why they complained. I suffered through about six months of listening to complaining that I didn’t understand.

I set aside time to obtain new knowledge and ideas.

With all my effort, I got into this company. My goal was to be independent someday. I pulled together and decided to set goals and a timeframe. This set my mind at ease, letting me analyze my own work while still at the company.
I tried to learn to communicate with the sewing factory, logistics, how to work with sales staff, how to run a company, and how the systems operate. For making patterns, I used to do by hands at my vocational school. It was around the time CAD was introduced, and I had a chance to study it at the training workshops in the company. The company provided me with the opportunity to absorb a lot of new ideas. I had about 80 different coworkers who taught me the systems, not only from my own department but marketing, design and other specialists. At the same time, there was a rumour that the company may cut the number of pattern makers to reduce costs. Even though my job of making patterns was increased a little, I was not given much work. I thought if someone left, there would be the possibility of an increase in my own work. If so, there was the possibility that it would end up with it being more difficult to leave at a later date. Since I had worked over a year and a half, and had more than enough experience and knew the rules of pattern making, I told the company that I quit.

I was able to change myself by setting my goals.

For the first six months, it was tough feeling that I was not needed. I knew we humans don’t have energy when you feel you are not needed. It wasn’t very easy. For the next six months, I knew worrying about such things wouldn’t make me go anywhere, and did the things I could do and tried to learn and challenge myself. I was determined to be independent and had decided to quit my job.
So, for the last six months, I really enjoyed working more. Because my time at the company was limited, I wanted to absorb as much knowledge as I could. I went to the office at seven in the morning and I finished my job as fast as I could. After that, I went to the different departments for research. So, I was very content. During my first six months, I was stressed out because I felt I was not needed. It was tough. As time passed, it was a small thing, however, back then I didn’t even want to go to work. I lived freely before I started working for the company. I couldn’t stand the pressure as an employee. I’m surprised that I didn’t run away. I wouldn’t have that experience if I didn’t work. I was able to change myself by setting my goals. Since I decided that I would leave the company in six months, I realized I still needed to learn this and that. Until then I felt like I was running in a long endless tunnel. All I needed was setting a goal. I used to wait for five o’clock to go home and watch my supervisors’ complaining to see myself in several years. It was creepy. I think it was because I didn’t see any appreciation for work from them.

Things change as you become more aware.

I came here to work as a pattern maker. Some people had excellent skills but complained all the time. I found myself responding to their complaints and as I got used to it, laughed with them. Six months ago, however, I hated those complains and gossips. I noticed myself in joining with them as one of the members. The moment I knew, I felt uncomfortable and withdrew from them. A sense of crisis was born within myself, and I was aware that this was not my place. That’s why I set my goals and pondered what I must do right now. I had determined to quit my job after mastering CAD and obtain knowledge of the industrial systems. That awareness was immense for me. I used to feel it was hell, and even though nothing had changed, it became heaven by making it worthwhile as my motivations had changed. I want to tell the younger company staff that things can be changed via perception. I truly experienced differences and told my staff that your work environment can be heaven or hell, depending on your view.

Original Japanese text by Seiji Koshikawa.
English translation by Adam & Michiko Whipple.