A born entrepreneur, Seiji Yamaguchi was just 15 when she created her own line of makeup after discovering that she was allergic to the harsh metals and chemicals found in most consumer brands. Growing up in California, she had also become deeply concerned about the amount of plastic that was being found in the Pacific Ocean every day. Seiji decided to donate two percent of her net profits to Ocean Champions, a nonprofit which works with members of Congress to pass pro-ocean laws, and the Clean Ocean Project, an NGO which raises awareness of the dangers of ocean pollution.
The daughter of famed hairdresser Billy Yamaguchi, whose cutting, coloring and makeup techniques are informed by the five elements of Feng Shui, and energy therapist & motivational speaker, Melissa Yamaguchi, Seiji grew up in a home where product formulation was a regular topic of conversation. “My parents have owned salons for 20 years and have their own haircare line so I learned about hair and skin care by osmosis,” says Seiji.
“I told her she could rely on us to help, but that she had to be involved and that she had to put up half the money,” says Melissa. So after a modest investment of $2,000, The Seiji Collection became a reality. Initially, it was sold at her parents’ salon at the Four Seasons in Westlake Village, CA. As luck would have it, Huffington Post co-founder Arianna Huffington noticed the line when she came in to have her hair done. When she found out that Seiji was only 15, she decided to include her in a feature on teenage entrepreneurs. Seiji’s blog, “Who Says I Have to Wait on My Life?” was published in August, 2015.
Seiji is nothing if not determined. Fiercely independent, she asked her mother if she could test out of high school so she could devote more time to her business. “I’ve never taken the traditional route with anything,” says Seiji, who got her diploma at 16 and began taking college courses in philosophy, psychology, anthropology and history.
Her latest venture is a line of six intention candles. “Each intention comes with a certain aroma and crystal that has to do solely with that intention,” says Seiji, who meditates over each crystal before placing it at the bottom of the cement container.
Circling each lid are the words, “Joy is like a light. Its strength will not be diminished by sharing.” Because of mounting evidence that soy production has a negative impact on the environment, from soil erosion to damaging fragile ecosystems, Seiji made a decision to use coconut wax instead of soy wax in each hand-poured candle. The Innersage candle features her signature scent of Arabian rose and spiced saffron with a heart-shaped rose quartz crystal at the bottom. “With every light, place your prayers, meditations and wishes,” she says. “When your candle is finished, carry your quartz and wishes with you.” When cool, the wax can be used as a fragrance. When warm, the oil may be used for massage. “Nothing is wasted.”
Concerned with the global impact of animal agriculture on the environment, Seiji has embraced a vegan lifestyle, and she’s already convinced her parents to follow in her footsteps. Her brother, Nobu, has proved to be more of a challenge, but she’s working on him. Browbeating anyone into submission is not Seiji’s style. Instead, she prefers to “lead by example.”
“I have never felt as though I had to follow convention. I don’t pay as much attention to what is popular as I do to what I feel is right,” says this Modern Original Person. “I decided to become a vegan at 13. I decided to forge my own path and start a makeup line at 15. I decided to write for The Huffington Post.” More important, perhaps, this is a girl who has “never listened when someone told me, ‘You can’t do that.’” Thank goodness.
To see what Seiji has been up to lately, visit yamaguchi-generation.myshopify.com.