When skincare brand founder Victoria Tsai first met real-life geishas in Kyoto, she was taken aback by their delicate yet striking look - faces painted white and clad in elaborate kimonos.
"They were so beautiful I almost started crying," says the Taiwanese-American, of her first encounter five years ago.
"I wanted them to tell me about their make-up and look into their bags.
"What I realised later on, after seeing their fresh faces without make-up, was that whether they were 20 years old or 80, they had amazing skin," she adds.
Ms Tsai, now 35, found out that their beauty secrets were based on natural and time-tested ingredients such as camellia flowers, rice bran and green tea, which have antioxidants and moisturising elements.
This discovery led to the creation of Tatcha, a beauty brand based on the secrets of the geisha, a dwindling group of artisans schooled in the classical arts such as dancing, the green tea ceremony and playing instruments such as the shamisen.
Testing on her own skin
Launched in 2009, Tatcha's products have been featured in a slew of high-profile magazines such as Vogue, Elle, Marie Claire, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.
Ranging from US$12 (S$15) for blotting papers to US$185 for a brightening serum, they are available at fashion emporiums Barneys New York in the United States and Joyce Beauty in Hong Kong, as well as globally at its online store www.tatcha.com.
In a phone interview with Urban, the married mother of a four-year-old girl admits that the Tatcha venture came about partly because of self-interest. The former credit derivatives trader on Wall Street went to Harvard Business School and interned at Proctor & Gamble while there.