Midori Yoshikawa

Now: Architectural interior designer

Then: McDonald’s cashier

Current position: Owner and principal designer, Midori Yoshikawa Interior Design in Bellevue.

First jobs: Working as a teenager for minimum wage at a McDonald’s in Tokyo. I remember the menu board had the slogan “The Smile is Free,” so children and flirtatious young men would come up to me at the counter and demand to see me smile. I used to get very annoyed at these people and give them my very best blank face, which earned me the nickname of “Iron Face” from my manager. I still have the uniform, but no one calls me “Iron Face” anymore. My smile is now a trademark of the personal nature of my business. I moved on as a student at Toyo Art College, during which time I also worked at one of Tokyo’s top design firms. I quickly became its youngest chief designer. Moved to Seattle in 1991 to work for a commercial design firm and later opened my own business at the request of my many repeat clients. Midori Yoshikawa Interior Design Inc. was established in 2002.

What I learned: The importance and power of a smile while serving others is a lesson I did not appreciate at the time of my McDonalds employment, but this has now become an important part of my client relationships. A sincere smile can truly open the path to someone’s heart. Because an interior space is so highly personal, I strive to touch upon the deeper emotions of my clients, the better to create a space where they will always be smiling.

*The article above is the original draft as created by Midori Yoshikawa

To view the published version of Midori's "My First Job" as it appeared in the Seattle Times for January 2008, please visit http://blog.marketplace.nwsource.com/jobsfirst/20071227.html