knitwin’s third interview is with Nishikawa Ltd., a company located in Fukuoka prefecture. With the successful wholesale of general sundries as a base-point, they have expanded to providing services such as layout advice to shops and event planning. They also develop some of their own products. What is knitwin’s relationship to Nishikawa Ltd.? Their socks from the natural sunny brand have found a niche in the list of items Nishikawa supplies to shops.
Today we have the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Ito who handles sales for natural sunny and Ms. Wada from the health care products division.

Right: Sales Department, Second Sales Division, Ito Naoto
Left : Planning . Health Care Products Division, Wada Risako
– Nishikawa seems to be a wholesaler predominantly for scented products; what made you decide to do business with knitwin, a sock company?
At Nishikawa, our main focus is distributing general sundries and 60% of our items are scented products. The remaining 40% comprise of items such as bath products, food and clothing, including socks. These days more and more shops market stylish lifestyles through the display of their products. Following the same trend, we looked to expand our apparel department and we wanted to put emphasis on choosing a good sock company. That is when NISHIGUCHI KUTSUSHITA (NK) caught our interest.
These were good quality socks at a reasonable cost, and that was really appealing to us. We got in touch with knitwin, the sock company of NK, right away. Unfortunately, NISHIGUCHI KUTSUSHITA (NK) was a brand that only sold their socks to retail shops directly. As we were a wholesaler, it wasn’t possible to order their socks. It was very disappointing, but we understood their business process and had to accept the fact. As we were ready to embark on a new search, we got word that they were coming to our city, Fukuoka, to take part in an exhibition that was taking place in a few days. Even though we knew that there was no way to do business with NK, we still took the opportunity and visited their booth. That is when we met Mr. Nishiguchi who introduced us to natural sunny, another brand under knitwin. My honest opinion, the prices were unbelievably cheap (laughter)! We really liked that their socks were of good quality and the price cheap; we really had a good feeling about this sock brand.
At Nishikawa, we take part in exhibitions with other companies as well as hold our own 4 times a year. We were introduced to the natural sunny sock brand just at the time when we were preparing for one of our quarterly exhibitions so we quickly decided to add their socks to our display. What a good idea that was. We received lots of interest from clients. Soon after, we took natural sunny leggings to one of our apparel shops, as it was fitting for the coming season. Again, a great idea; they were so popular and we received so many orders. There was talk about creating our own leggings but with how well the natural sunny brand was doing, there really was no point.

– Mr. Ito, from what I understand, you originally come from a background in apparel.
I had extensive experience in the apparel field before joining Nishikawa. From back then, I felt that socks were an accessory that has the shortest life span. Even compared to other undergarments, they tend to wear quickly because the bottom of the feet have a tendency to sweat often and there is repeated friction between the feet and shoes. Many apparel or lifestyle shops don’t put that much effort into carrying socks in their shops because the profit is low compared to clothing. But once a customer purchases a pair and is satisfied with them, they come back for another pair. They may want another color, a warmer pair for cooler seasons, and a different design, or may think of coming back when it’s time to replace their old ones.
Some customers purchase socks as gifts because they have worn the same brand and want to recommend it. Word of mouth is the best marketing. “Wasn’t it comfortable?” “Didn’t it taste delicious?” People naturally want to share their pleasant experiences. Many of our staff at Nishikawa wear natural sunny socks. Their popularity has spread within our company and made its way out to our customers. It may take time, but socks are something you wear every day so if you are satisfied with a pair, you buy 2 and then 3 pairs and then there may be an opportunity to recommend them to people around you. No matter how comfortable they may be, if they are expensive, it’s harder to tell others about them, but with natural sunny’s quality and price, you can’t go wrong! You can recommend their brand with complete confidence.

– Mr. Ito, you share the same passion we have for socks and it is a real pleasure doing business with you. Unlike other clients, your focus is not on sales, but more on taking the time to find and share good quality items.
In my opinion, you shouldn’t rush to market or sell a brand. If the product is good, slowly but surely, sales will increase. Of course we do have to make some profit along the way, but putting too much emphasis on numbers is not our style. When the focus is just on numbers, and you set off to reach that target number, what happens? You end up distributing the products everywhere! When that happens, they end up being an item that you can find in any store. If you want to sell as many as possible, you can lower the price, but with brands that we recommend and sell with confidence, we want to make sure that we market them to reflect their quality. Patience is a key element for us in this line of business.
– It will almost be a year since you started ordering our products. Any new ideas for the future?
We are interested in distributing knitwin’s new brand hakne. Some of the apparel shops we supply to are looking for socks that are of similar cost to other brands that they carry. natural sunny socks are of good quality, have cute design and are cheaper than the average sock brand so they end up monopolizing the sock section. Although they’d look great on the shelves of apparel shops, price-wise, they are more tailored to be sold in shops that carry general sundries. On the other hand, hakne would be perfectly fitting, in all aspects to be sold in apparel shops.
We like to think thoroughly about where each item fits, and watch how their stories unfold, slowly.

Nishikawa Ltd.
812-0016 Fukuoka shi Hakata-ku Hakata Eki Minami 3-15-29
Eki Minami Misawa Building
Phone: 092-431-5599