Photo by Tastuki Nakata from Creators’ Lounge

Kato (Tom) Toyonori is the founder and CEO of Creator’s Lounge in Toronto. TOM and I have never met. A friend of a friend in Tokyo told me about Creator’s Lounge (CL), so I went to the website to check it out. Now, Tasai is pretty weird confluence of things: Japan, Canada, art, entrepreneurship and all as a starting place to connect artist entrepreneurs all over the world.

I was rather excited to find CL is about this same weird confluence of things. Different city, different inflection, but so much the same. Tom and I have been emailing back and forth since and in Tasai’s weekly Fresh Sheet we’ve featured CL’s current activities in Toronto. Since Tom and I have never actually met, I thought an interview would be a good way to get to know each other better.

 

Steve: Okay, here goes. I’ll start with three questions and see how that goes. Write as much or as little as you like.

Tell us about Creator’s Lounge and what you do.

 

Tom: Creators’ Lounge Inc. is a Toronto based communication agency who solves clients’ communication challenges through the implementation of memorable and creative solutions. Using its roster of highly skilled talents, Creators’ Lounge Inc. contributes to the development of Toronto’s creative  Community. And with its wide expertise in terms of integration of Japanese businesses into global markets, Creators’ Lounge Inc. is also a cutting edge hub between cultures. Our activities include, but are not limited to, Event planning, Activation and Promotion Events, PR, Marketing, Creative work, Content, Consulting.

 

S: What do you love most about what you do and why?

 

T: Using its roster of highly skilled talents, Creators’ Lounge Inc. contributes to the development of Toronto’s creative  Community. I love to create and bring up new things in the world.

 

S: Tell us about why you started Creator’s Lounge?

 

T: We’ve decided to use “Creators’ Lounge” for our company because it describes perfectly our vision: To be a company where artists and creators are gathered to show their skills and use those skills to solve communications challenges. In the future we would like to have a permanent space for our event planning activities.

 

S: Okay, let’s keep going… 日本語でお返事はいいですよ。(It’s okay to reply in Japanese) English or Japanese, whatever you’re most comfortable with.

Can you tell us more about wanting to “create something in the world.”? Maybe a bit about your story and why you, personally want to create something in the world.

 

T: Hahaha, Thank you so much!! オッケー、日本語で返します。(Okay, I’ll reply in Japanese.)

世界に向けてInnovationを起こすというのが、私の頭の中で考えているイメージです。常に新しい事を求める、その先に新しい世界が待っていると信じているからです。道を切り開く、時代を切り開く、志も持った人間でありたいです。

Awaken innovation for the world is an image in my mind. Always seeking new things is required, I believe it leads to a new world. I want to be the one to open the way and open the era.

 

S: I’m interested in how the world of  “artists” and “business people” can be held together. Can you tell me a bit about your personal philosophy or approach regarding the intersection of the arts and business?

 

T: その”コト”や”モノ”をどれだけ楽しませてみせれるかという事に重点を置いています。
アウトプットをどれだけ”アート”に見せれるか、そこにCLで関わるアーティストやクリエイターがサポートしてくれるわけです。ただ単純な”製品発表会”や”広告媒体”では無く、CLらしいアウトプットの仕方を常に考えています。

My priority is to give as much fun as I can to all the great artists and creators we are supporting.
And CL Inc. wants to help them achieve their dreams, that for most of them is to share their work and live from their art.

So, on one side you have artists who want to showcase their arts and their talents. And on the other side, we have businesses that need to define their image, be attractive and get the attention of their customers. And between them, you have CL Inc. who knows and understands perfectly both sides to create the perfect match.

Here, we’re providing more than a simple matching or marketing solution. Through the coordination of a highly skilled and passionate team we’re creating an exclusive and unforgettable experience for the artists of our community, our corporate clients and their customers.

 

S: What makes Creator’s Lounge different from other communications companies?

 

T: CLのコミニュケーションスタイルで大事にするのは、人対人という事です。”共創”をすること、多様性が創造性を生み出すのが私達の最大の強みです。アーティストやクリエイターの距離感や信頼関係、共に創り出す仲間でありたいと考えています。

Well, what makes CL so special is the nature of our relation itself with our clients and with creators. It’s a real, deep and sincere human to human relationship where business becomes only the successful achievement of a common goal.

Indeed, our greatest strength is our diversity allowing us to bring to life creative collaborations. We want to be very close to creators and clients, and develop with them a trustful relationship. through our eyes they are our partners and friends.

 

S: Why is Creator’s Lounge based in Canada, why not in Japan?

 

T: Canadaには、まだまだ可能性があると考えています。Canadaを拠点に、欧米を、そして世界を変えて行けるサービスを展開していきたいです。日本 を拠点にしないのは、日本が好きだからこそ、外で発信していく役割でありたい。日本の中からはまだまだ時間がかかるし、世界のトレンドを見ながらも日本の コンテンツを売り出して行く事のサポートが出来ればと考えています。”Made with Japan”ですね。

I think there are more possibilities in Canada for a communication agency like Creators’ Lounge. As you probably know one of the services we are providing is the implementation of Japanese Business into global market through outstanding and creative solutions. (for example: The pre-opening, grand opening and workshops of MUJI CANADA in Toronto). From Japan that would be a pretty complicated task to perform. But being based in Canada we have a brand new perspective of Japan. And with our expertise about that country, obviously dear to my heart, we can more efficiently promote abroad about its values and culture in a authentic way.

 

S: Can you tell us a bit about your personal journey, and how you ended up CEO of Creator’s Lounge?

 

T: 私がトロントに来たのは、2012年の4月になります。ただ純粋にアーティストやクリエイターの表現する場所を作りたいという思いから、この団体を立ち上げました。
今までに本当にたくさん方々に支えられ、今があります。

トロントはマルチカルチャーで、様々な人種のバックグランドがあるからこそ、可能性があります。そして多方面に支えてくれる仲間がいる。
この事業を一緒に立ち上げた、JoeとMark、そして優秀なスタッフには常に感謝の気持ちで一杯です。

私達が作り上げた”Creators’ Lounge”とは、”場”を創造する事です。
今の時代コミュニティは様々な形で表現されます。
世界に通用するプラットフォームを作って行く事に、終着点は無いと考えています。

Well, when I arrived in Toronto in 2012, I realized that talented local and international artists based in Canada didn’t have the place they deserve to perform or showcase their work. So I decide to create events where they could be under the spot light and eventually be known. With the support of family and friends I gathered one by one over the years,  artists, creators and arts lovers from various background and fields, a brand new multi cultural creative community was born in Toronto. As the founder I decided to call it: Creators’ Lounge.

To my great surprise, well-known corporations started to approach me and ask for our services to solves their communications challenges and organize various type of events. Thus with Joe Tamko, the Co-founder of the company and the support of Mark Hashimoto, member of the management team, we’ve decided to incorporate Creators’ Lounge into Creators’ Lounge Inc. to serve more efficiently the creative community in Toronto in terms of opportunities, tools and useful info. That’s pretty much, how I became CEO of Creators’ Lounge.

We are already a multi cultural hub in Canada with strong ties with Japan but the next steps is to enlarge our network to the world.

 

S: Thanks Tom, いつか一緒ビールを飲みに行いたいですよ。

You can find Tom on:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/GOODMUSICTOM
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/toyonoritomkato

Photo by Stuart Lowe

Photo by Stuart Lowe