Making women feel confident one hair extension at a time
“Borrowed confidence” is the phrase that always comes to mind whenever we talk about something that makes us feel and look good temporarily—like how a woman feels more attractive when she’s in her high heels or when she puts her makeup on. Some argue that this idea leads to frustrations when the source of our confidence runs out.
But I say, building self-confidence is a process. Since it is not innate, we start somewhere by borrowing that confidence until we own it.
Talking to Denise Aquino, CEO and president of Tokyo Posh—the pioneer of premium hair extensions in the Philippines – making a woman feel better about the way she looks, albeit temporarily, is already life-changing.
Denise welcomed me into her “very pink” boutique located on the 4th level of The Podium Mall in Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong. The afternoon tête-à-tête with the young mother and entrepreneur centered on how she started the business in 2009 when she opened a shop in Valle Verde in Pasig and how her hair extensions changed the lives of ordinary women —from celebrities to beauty queens, from models to bride-to-be, and from young professionals to stay-at-home moms.
Tokyo Posh was born in the streets of Harajuku, Japan, where Denise stayed as a fashion design student at the prestigious Bunka Fashion College. Exposed to a culture where hair was seen as an accessory, fashion-forward Denise decided to bring this lifestyle home to Filipinas, introducing hair extensions that were not only easy to put on, but also came in a wide array of styles in colors and highlights all suited to complement the Asian look and style preference.
“Two weeks after graduating from Ateneo in 2006, I flew to Tokyo to study Fashion Design. Well, Tokyo wasn’t always the city that we know now, which is booming with tourists, so I felt so homesick at that time. So, to combat that, I made myself busy aside from being serious with my studies,” she started.
Denise asked a friend to photograph her amid the cherry blossoms at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. Wearing hair extensions, she used the photos to initially sell the products online through platforms like Multiply and Friendster.
“My mom uploaded my photos online and she started swelling the hair extensions from our house in Antipolo. And she was selling at least one hair extension a day,” Denise said of the early days of her now booming business.
“In Tokyo, fashion is everything, it’s from head to toe. Yes, including the hair. Hair extension there is a normal thing and already a booming business. Since I’m so exposed to using hair extensions, I thought of bringing that aspect of Japanese fashion to the Philippines,” Denise shared and further said that she put up Tokyo Posh as a back plan.
“I was thinking, If I wouldn’t be able to finish Fashion Design, at least I have a fallback.”
This fallback is now the go-to boutique for premium hair extension services in the metro. It has two other branches in Powerplant Mall in Rockwell (her first branch in a big mall after closing the first shop in Pasig) and in UP Town in Quezon City —key locations that make her shops accessible to their target market.
Denise is very particular about the quality of their product, which is why, being the pioneer in the country, she confidently says that their hair extensions are exactly what they’re made to do—be an extension of your real hair.
“No glue or sewing is required in the application process, we only use clips and tapes with a special adhesive to avoid hair damage,” she said even asking the author to touch her hair if he would notice any difference or notice if she’s wearing any hair extension at all.
The young entrepreneur believes that hair, apart from being every woman’s crowning glory, is an extension of self-expression that can be changed on a daily basis—depending on her mood and the look she wants to achieve.
Hard work pays off
Tokyo Posh basically started a new category in Philippine fashion. It’s not just a brand that its CEO and President introduced. During the initial stage of her business, Denise had to do talks in schools and hospitals and even hold bazaars to “just educate people about hair extensions.”
“Back in 2009, we just had salons, we didn’t have any hair extension specialist shops. Fast forward to 2022 to 2023, and we’re happy to say that the industry is growing. We have a lot of competitors now and I think it’s good for the business, the hair extension industry is growing and that means, we’re here to stay,” Denise exclaimed.
Being the first brand to introduce such a category, Tokyo Posh prides itself on offering the best products and best solutions to all hair needs.
“People will not find our product anywhere. We have two categories, the semi-permanent, and the clip-ons. And we are the exclusive distributor of the Hair Talk brand,” Denise said.
Unlike most extensions, these do not involve weaving, sewing, braiding, or gluing, but are simply clipped on, and worked into real hair. High-quality fiber from Japan ensures that these extensions look and feel natural, and are lightweight enough to carry any posh girl through all her day-to-night activities with confidence.
“I feel so humbled and honored to see a lot of women make their dreams come true with a simple activity as putting on hair extensions. It sounds so shallow but it’s so true. After putting your hair extensions on, you get that sense of confidence that’s hard to explain. Since we opened shop 14 years ago, we’ve seen a lot of women transformed simply because of this quick fix,” Denise ended.