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Brand Story 01Changing an import industry into an export industry:
The challenges of the Yasui brothers, founders of Brother.

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It all began with the YASUI SEWING MACHINE CO.

The beginning of the Brother Group dates to 1908, when Kanekichi Yasui established YASUI SEWING MACHINE CO., from which point the repair of sewing machines and production of sewing machine parts began. Kanekichi was fascinated by the exquisite quality of the industrial components and dreamed of making a living from sewing machines at a time when the market was still based on imported sewing machines. Kanekichi was physically weak but was supported by his first son, Masayoshi, who proved himself capable of managing the business when he was 16 years old. Masayoshi accompanied Tokio, his younger brother, to Osaka as an apprentice, and saw the real state of the sewing machine industry in Japan. He questioned why Japan was not able to manufacture a sewing machine domestically, and decided to manufacture a sewing machine that would change the import industry to an export industry.

Kanekichi Yasui

Kanekichi Yasui

Selling a domestic sewing machine
under the "BROTHER" brand

Following Kanekichi Yasui's death at the age of 44, the brothers decided to pursue their father's dream of manufacturing a domestic sewing machine. They began with manufacturing a chain-stitch sewing machine for straw hats, utilizing their knowledge of the structure gained through their experience in repairing machines. The manufacturing facilities were insufficient, though they managed to manufacture the first sewing machine with inventive ideas, all made by hand. Their first sewing machine was named after the name of the era (1928), under the "BROTHER" trademark, to show how the manufacturing was founded on the cooperation of the brothers. After it was released to the market, the number of orders gradually increased, a testament to its durability which was ten times that of imported machines.

Sho-san-shiki Sewing Machine (Chain-stitch sewing machine for straw hats)

Sho-san-shiki Sewing Machine (Chain-stitch sewing machine for straw hats)

The first mass production of a shuttle hook in Japan

The success of manufacturing the Sho-san-shiki sewing machine and chain-stitch sewing machines for knitted fabrics gave the brothers the confidence to start working on a home lockstitch sewing machine, but this was not easily achieved. The manufacture of a component known as the "shuttlehook" was the greatest obstacle. As it had to be regularly replaced, there were high demands placed on it. However, as it also had to be delicate yet strong, it was thought that mass production would be difficult given the domestic technology of the time.

Since Jitsuichi, the younger son, had advanced technological skills, he threw himself into this research. After a long and hard struggle, he succeeded in mass producing a shuttle hook in 1932. At that time, the custom duties were raised, and along with this the crash of the yen led to an unexpected profit for home-made products, as the price of imported products rose sharply.

The first home sewing machine made

The brothers realized their dream by succeeding in manufacturing the first home sewing machine in late 1932, the year in which the mass production of shuttle hooks was achieved. It was 11 years from that day in Osaka when Masayoshi decided that he would manufacture a home sewing machine. It was a time when domestically manufactured sewing machines enjoyed an advantage thanks to the effects of the price increase of imported sewing machines, which was itself due to the raising of customs duties a year before. Masayoshi founded a new manufacturing factory using funds borrowed from a friend. In 1934, he reorganized the company into what we know as Brother today, and called it NIPPON SEWING MACHINE MANUFACTURING CO.

A sewing machine factory from the time when mass production began

A sewing machine factory from the time when mass production began

The BROTHER brand crosses the sea.

Despite the aftermath of World War ll, Masayoshi started manufacturing sewing machines before any other companies. The sewing machines were shipped all over the country, to meet the increasing demand for sewing machines in the domestic market; they were needed to restore the country from damage sustained during the war. Over 500 sewing machines were exported in the two years following the end of the war. In 1954, Brother International Corporation was founded to sell sewing machines to the global market.

Masayoshi decided to start manufacturing home electrical appliances, inspired by the popularity of electrical appliances in American homes. Utilizing the technology gained through manufacturing sewing machines, products such as home knitting machines, electrical fans, electric irons, vacuum cleaners and others were manufactured to make inroads into the electrical appliance market.

Home knitting machine KH1-B1

Home knitting machine KH1-B1

Electric washing machine BWM-1

Electric washing machine BWM-1

A brand trusted by customers all over the world

In 1956, Masayoshi was asked to manufacture a portable typewriter (which was highly in demand in the market), by Max Hugel, the president of Brother International Corporation (U.S.A). Back then, typewriters were a vital part of office life. The domestically manufactured "JP1" was well received due to its reasonable price while maintaining an equal quality with typewriters manufactured by other companies. It was exported to Europe, and subsequently established Brother as a manufacturer of office machines. Over 80% of Brother's sales are overseas, and the manufacturing, sales and service bases have expanded into more than 40 countries and regions. Masayoshi's ambition to change an import industry into an export industry has led to the delivery of high quality products to customers all over the world.

Production line of typewriters

Production line of typewriters

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