東村山1丁目 diary


木曜日は翻訳の日 ~Ignitionより~


The Story of ”minne” : How a Latecomer Rocketed to the Top of the e-Retail Market for Handmade Goods


“Analog warms” is the secret of mine’s success, says founder Masayuki Abe


In Japan today, the market for handmade items, knitting, and other hobby crafts is booming.

Total market volume has been estimated at 69.8 billion yen, and in recent years all eyes have turned to the online “consumer-to-consumer” (CtoC) market – an e-commerce marketplace that lets makers and buyers arrange direct purchases with each other.

市場規模合計は69.8兆円と推定されており、近年ではオンラインでのCtoC(カスタマーtoカスタマー、消費者間取引)市場に注目が集まっている - その市場とは、制作者と購入者が互いに直接購入することを可能にする電子商取引市場のことである。

A number of Japanese CtoC sites first took off around 2010, and that frenetic growth continues today, helping to raise the profile of “one-of-a-kind” homemade pieces and empowering consumers who want to buy order-made items custom designed for their tastes.


Operated by GMO Pepabo, minne is a CtoC site launched in 2012. Currently, the site sits at the top of the highly competitive e-market for Japanese handmades, with 140,000 registered product makers and 1,540,000 registered items as of August 20. Specializing in accessories, the site sells everything from clothing to furniture, alongside fabric and an endless array of other items.




minne’s users are mostly students and homemakers, aged between their twenties and forties.


Around ninety percent of users are women, many of whom create their products during breaks between housework and childrearing responsibilities.


From this group, a few “star” artists have already emerged who are earning over a million yen a month through the site.


But how has minne, a relative latecomer to the handmade game, been able to tap so deeply into Japan’s hidden demand for craft products, and how did it leap to the top of the market so quickly? How did the company come into being, and what kind of future is it building?


We talked to site founder Masayuki Abe – known online as “Xavier of minne” after Francis Xavier, a Jesuit missionary who helped spread Christianity throughout Japan – to learn how minne’s influence spread so quickly.

我々はサイトの発起人であるMasayuki Abe氏に、どうやってこのように素早くminneの影響力を広げたのか尋ねた。(Abe氏は、日本でキリスト教を広めた宣教師であるフランシスコ・ザビエルにならい「minneのザビエル」としてインターネット上で知られている)

A simple service, designed for people who live in the analog world


Abe-san works for GMO Pepabo, a company that, since its founding, has striven to develop services that “help support creative people.”


In 2011, the company circulated an internal memo soliciting ideas for new service projects.


Abe-san had loved going to flea markets and craft fairs for as long he could remember, so he took the memo as an opportunity to propose the minne concept.


“I took something I loved and combined it with something I thought people were looking for – that was how the project got started,” he says.

「私は自分の好きな物と人々が求めているであろうものとを結びつけました 。それがプロジェクトがスタートした経緯です」と彼は言った。

“There’s a lot you can’t find out just by doing a web search for handmade artists or their work, so I thought if there were a specialized site for handmades, it might do a better job of satisfying people’s curiosity.


More than anything, I just wanted to provide support that would help my favorite artists get noticed.”


Until recently, the main distribution channel for handmades had been the “craft towns” operated in different regions around Japan.


But obviously, that method can only share charming new products with people who actually live in those areas.


By using the web to distribute handmade goods, Abe-san believed he could build a community where far more people would see them, and where more people would be inspired to buy and sell more things.


By 2012, there were already twenty or thirty sites competing in the handmade market.


How were consumers supposed to distinguish between them, and how could Abe-san make his own site stand out?


He decided he would create a simple service where anyone could register anything they’d made.


“With an online shop, it’s important to get people talking about you – to have a crowd – so the first thing I did was try to increase the number of products we had.


Obviously, the best way to increase the number of products is to get as many people posting items on your site as possible.

「言うまでもなく、商品数を増やすのに一番いい方法は、できるだけ多くの人にあなたのサイトの商品を投稿してもらうことです。」(※訳者メモ この辺のget~ingの使い方がよくわからない)

But when I looked at the handmade sites that were active back then, it seemed like their interfaces were all very complicated.


A lot of handmade artists don’t use the internet regularly, so I decided minne should have a simple interface that would make it easy for that kind of artist to register and start selling.”


“But I also worried that I might not get any response, even with a down-to-earth interface designed for people who spend most of their time in the analog world,” Abe-san says.


To lower the hurdle even more for his users, Abe-san set up a system that allowed them to register as many items as they wanted free of charge, and that only charged a service fee when items were actually sold.


He set the service fee at 10%, the lowest industry standard.


In addition, he set up a number of support functions to help drive sales, including a feature that posted exceptional items to the site’s front page and e-mail newsletter.


A lover of handmades himself, Abe-san has even experimented with giving direct advice to artists, sharing his impressions and recommending that they use a certain fabric or a certain color.


You might say he’s taken an “analog” approach to selling analog items – one that values face-to-face interaction between real people.

彼はアナログの商品を売るためにアナログ的な手段を取ったのだとあなたは言うかもしれない - 彼は生身の人間同士が対面で交流することに価値を置いているのだと。

(※訳者メモ この辺りに出てくる代名詞oneの使い方がよくわからない)

Through communication with artists and the regular sales events minne offers, Abe-san says he wants his users to feel like there’s a real person behind minne, one who values their work as highly as he values his own.

作家とのコミュニケーションや定期的なminneのセールスイベントを通して、ユーザーに、minneの背後にリアルな人間がいるように感じて彼らの手仕事を高く評価してもらいたい - 自分が彼らをそう思っているように、とAbeさんは語った。