#28 Keishi Ikeuchi

Interview with Keishi Ikeuchi

Keishi Ikeuchi, President of Ikeuchi Organic, was born in 1949 in Imabari in Japan. In 1983, he succeeded the presidency of Ikeuchi Towel from his father, who passed away right after Keishi decided to leave Panasonic, where he had worked since graduating college. Keishi’s passion to produce quality towels led the company to establish their own brand of “IKT” by using organic cotton under the source of 100% of wind power. Ikeuchi Organic is the first Japanese company to receive the Best New Product Award at the NY home textile show (currently called NY NOW) in 2002. We interviewed Keishi about his view of being an environmentally friendly company as well as his passion for his business.

– Your organic cotton towels known as “Wind Woven Towels” were introduced in 1999 as a factory brand under the mission of utmost safety and minimal environmental burden. Also, your company is renowned as the world’s first Japanese company to be awarded the WindMade label for sourcing 100% of electricity consumption from wind power. Please tell us your company’s philosophy.

Ikeuchi:

We have not particularly set our philosophy. As a manufacturing company, our products form our brand values and represent our philosophy. Our basic policy is to produce the safest products with minimal environmental burden.

At a milestone of our 60th anniversary, we officially announced to be an organic company. It means we aim to build a good relationship with all from cotton manufacturers and consumers to investors. This concept has been developed through interaction with our customers.

– Why do you stick to using organic cotton and wind power to make your towels?

Ikeuchi:

We rolled out our first organic cotton towels around early 1990s. At that time, I simply thought organic cotton was good as opposed to non-organic cotton, but I was not quite sure about the reasons. As I studied cotton, I learned cotton has a tragic history. British people from East India Company who went to India were surprised to see Indian cotton clothes since England only had wool and silk at that time. Then they took slaves from their colonies to America to grow cotton, which led to slavery and the American Civil War. After slavery was abolished, cotton has been harvested by using Agent Orange. As much as 40% to 60% of pesticides consumed in the world is used in cotton fields, which is more than we can think of. Nowadays, non-organic cotton is all genetically modified. In addition, Agent Orange is used to expedite the falling of leaves for the ease of harvesting. I would like everyone to know more about these facts behind cotton.

Since I have realized the quality of organic cotton, I cannot use anything else for our towels.

– You have maintained direct and continuous relationships with cotton farmers by visiting their farms in Tanzania and India as well as donating wells to Tanzanian people. What has been their reaction?

Ikeuchi: