Wear the World: Pinky Paradise Vanity Contacts

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First off let me say I do not condone the use of vanity contacts unless you have extensively read about how to wear, care for and use them safely. If you’re in any doubt please see an eye doctor and take the lenses to learn more about them. These lenses are a one size fits all so if you have a different eye shape it can cause complications.

Next, I finally uploaded a little review of the contacts from a NON-SEASONED contact wearer. In other words.. this was my first time wearing contacts. It wasn’t too tough or painful so I would have to say for a quick photo shoot these will do wonders! They are lovely, easy to wear and come in tons of colors and designs. If you’re looking for a good selection of lenses at an exceptional price check out Pinky Paradise. I know I’ll be getting a few more colors for fun next time!

I’m pretty new to VLOGGING on YouTube so if you’d like to be friends or collab in any way please let me know. I’m enjoying the ease these days of having a new phone to shoot and edit video on the go. The above video is one of the older tries! Beware the audio is a little slow! Ooops. Bad import.

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Accessories by Sanrio and Sugar Junkie!

Japanese Magazine Clippings: Neon and Kawaii KERA

In the old skool blogging days Wednesdays were MAGAZINE CLIP days because I’m always collecting them and oogling them but only share my favorite parts with you or else I’d flood the blog with them. In this KERA from the end of last year I cannot get enough of the fashion. I find that as I’ve aged now KERA is my style.. the style is dark but neon and super cute. Colorful hair, big eyelashes and perfect bangs.

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Tea Talk With ‘Maqaroon’ Maven Joanna

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Joanna is a Miseducated Eyecandy Girl through and through! Not only is she obviously adorable but she is a talented and successful business woman who owns and runs her own company filled with cuteness called Maqaroon. She creates jewelry, accessories and art inspired by Japanese fashion and unisex-friendly kawaii. She even blogs on her website and features female bloggers (most recently myself, so honored beyond belief) she feels drawn too in her super sweet, kawaii colorful and unique style of illustration. I am very happy to get a chance to chat with her and to share a bit of her world with all of you.

When did you start focusing on art and design as a hobby or passion and why?
I first discovered manga style when I was 8. I was in a tiny stationery shop in Beijing and found a Sailor Moon card showing all the characters wearing evening gowns. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen and became obsessed with wanting to draw like that! I was a very geeky teenager and loved video games, animes and RPGs so drawing fanart fit perfectly into that scene.

When and why did you decide to take it online?
I became very involved in the online manga community (Deviantart, Animexx, Livejournal) during high school because it was a great place to post work, get feedback and stay motivated. During university I learned enough to create a portfolio website and several years after that, after working as a web-designer, I finally had enough experience to design and set up my own online shop.

What is most challenging about starting a business on and offline?
The hardest offline part was finding the right third party contacts who help your business work. These include web developers, event organisers, couriers, photographers, printers, bloggers, financial/tax advisers and countless suppliers in Europe and Asia. Each one involves a financial gamble and you only know if that pays off after you receive the product or service. I invested (or wasted) a lot of money in the process but unfortunately there’s no way around the process as each business is unique and you need to try out everything to find what works for you.

The biggest online challenge is maintaining a constant presence on all your social media, including coming up with relevant, unique and interesting content for each platform and meaningfully interacting with other people. This is a full-time job for most companies, but if you’re doing everything alone then you have to fit it in around all other tasks! I have utmost respect for bloggers/vloggers who manage to post every few days as editing content is so much more time-consuming than anyone could imagine.

What would you tell an artist starting out marketing and selling their work online?
Start with as low quantities of each product as possible, then participate in craft fairs/pop-up markets where you sell a lot in a short space of time. Once you discover what people like to buy, go and design a batch of new things based on the bestselling product or theme. Then repeat with another event, and keep streamlining your products based on sales.

I have to emphasise participating in offline events because I found this was the best way to get a lot of feedback in the shortest space of time. When you first start out, online sales can be incredibly slow so it might take months if not years to get an idea of product popularity and you don’t want to wait that long! Once you know what sells, it will automatically drive your sales up both online and off.

Another good tip for any online shop is to choose light, flat products which are cheap to ship and not easily breakable. And always keep a very close eye on profit margins. I made an early mistake of offering keyrings and items with very small margins (e.g. 2-3 dollars). If I ended up miscalculating shipping by a tiny amount, or having to replace the parcel if it got lost then I would have negated that sale or even made a loss.

Lastly, don’t worry about comparing yourself with other brands or businesses. Just like how people make their lives look shinier on Facebook, a lot of brands may present a successful façade but that’s no reflection on how well they’re actually doing. Some companies simply buy fake Facebook and Twitter followers, others plough tons of loaned money into their start-up but are actually in debt. From talking to many people behind the scenes, I learned that many small businesses that are professionally represented at trade shows are still only being done part-time, and the owner(s) still rely on other sources of income.

So in short, don’t doubt yourself if it appears like everyone else is more successful. Even if you’re selling a few handmade items a month, you could still be making more profit than a shiny start-up with several employees that’s actually being funded by investors or a bank loan. The only thing to focus on is how your business is performing compared to itself, and work on steadily increasing sales. If it does become stuck, then try to change direction, products or audience until you discover what works.

What inspired your brand?
The original inspiration was my overwhelming love for Japanese street fashion. Ever since university, I’d been fascinated by street style and collected a huge amount of research through books, magazines, blogs and two trips to Tokyo. I wanted to create an illustrated resource for all those styles, both for myself and for others so people can see at a glance what the typical characteristics of each one are. This image is actually from the cover of a book pitch but I never heard back from the publisher, so I re-used many of the character designs!

The inspiration behind Maqaroon’s jewellery is a blend of Japanese “sweets deco” scene with classical European design. I live in Vienna, Austria which is a very traditional and baroque city. There are horse drawn carriages all over the streets and people take black tie ball season extremely seriously. There are also tiny boutiques everywhere selling amazingly delicate necklaces and bracelets made out of precious metal and diamonds.

So considering the two big influences in my life, I imagined Maqaroon to be a classy re-design of kawaii style. I wanted to create things that are very cute, but would still fit into an elegant wardrobe or upmarket occasion.

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Where do you find inspiration when you feel exhausted?
I really value spending time with my friends, family and boyfriend. I think when you’re in the presence of people you care about, your mind unblocks easily letting ideas and inspiration flow. I definitely believe in ‘leisure investment’ for creative people i.e. prioritising things which make you happy in order to produce higher quality of ideas/art, which in turn generates more sales. I also love yoga and find it’s an excellent way to reboot you mind & body when you’re stressed.

What is your favorite work to do these days?
I like simple hands-on work the most, which includes making jewellery, gluing boxes, packaging products. This is what I missed most when working as a freelance designer/illustrator because I’d spend 10 hours a day in front of the computer. I developed bad neck and shoulder pain as result so that was another reason I decided to change careers. Now I really relish evenings where I can just sit in front of the TV and make things with my hands, almost like back in school!

Do you craft your own jewelry and if so do you have a glimpse into your workspace or studio? How does the space work for you?
I design my jewellery on computer and then have the raw components (necklace/bracelet chains, earring bases) manufactured in gold-plated stainless steel. Then I make additional elements such as resin clay macaron shells by hand and assemble everything in my studio.

Unfortunately I have a really small apartment so I usually work on my dining table or coffee table and have to take out and clear up all the supplies before and after. This is also why I don’t have any workspace photos as it looks quite messy and uninspiring :P. Though I’m in the process of moving in with my boyfriend and will have a studio room just for myself so I’m really excited about that!

I’ll finally also have space for a larger computer and plan to start making videos and craft tutorials on my YouTube channel.

Do you use inspiration boards or have any to show?
Yep, I’ve been using WeHeartIt long before Pinterest came out so I still keep everything here!

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Favorites
Drink: Starbucks Iced Chai Soy Latte
Food: Japanese Chicken Katsu Curry
TV Show: Girls
Book: Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
Song: Everything by Michael Buble
3 words to describe yourself: Fun, Hyperactive, Artsy

What do you feel you communicate within your work?
I really want people to be happy when they look at it. I try to show all the creativity and happiness that still exists in the world through all the styles that young people choose to express themselves in. In addition, I believe strongly in diversity, tolerance and respect. This is why I decided to use animals instead of humans in Maqaroon, as it makes the issue of race and gender less contrived but still visibly present.

In terms of product and pricing, I’m a big believer in making good design accessible to many people. Graphic design is making things for the masses, whereas art is for the elite. Obviously having been a designer all these years, I don’t consider my work ‘artisanal’ or ‘special’ in any way and therefore don’t want to price it as such.
In this sense, I want Maqaroon to be a beautiful but fun and down-to-earth brand. If it were a person it’d be like that fabulously glam friend who you can always rely on as well! I didn’t want the brand to feel like an expensive, aloof and snobby girl who you sort of aspire to but feel you have to act slightly fake to be accepted in their clique.

Where do you plan to go next with your work/brand?
I plan to concentrate on jewellery and work on expanding the range to include delicate choker necklaces, bracelets and possibly rings. My dream would be to be stocked in stores that I love to shop at myself (like Topshop or ASOS). I’m also hoping to increase the non-sales side of the brand with a Youtube craft channel and more collaborations/portraits with bloggers!

Why does the “maqaroon” have a mustache?
Hehee this actually has an explanation behind it! I had two rules from the very start of the brand, which is that Maqaroon should not appear too childish and that it should lean towards being unisex. The risk with any kawaii brand is that it’s extremely easy to slide into using loads of pinks, creams, strawberries and flowers. I wanted Maqaroon to be cute but not over-the-top frilly and feminine.

So I decided on a neutral green as the main branding color, with virtually all backgrounds kept in white. When I was designing the logo I tried out loads of different facial expressions. I realised a typical kawaii mouth made it look too childish so I decided to use a moustache to show that the macaron is an adult male (this sentence is starting to sound a bit ridiculous XD). This again reinforces the unisex aspect, and not making it overtly girly.

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Lastly, are you Miseducated and why?
Yes definitely. Miseducated is about non-conformity, creativity and inspiring readers to follow their dreams, express themselves and live their best life. Too many people lose sight of these values when chasing after superficial things or trying to live up to other people’s expectations.

Growing up, I was always eager to please and would try to do everything right at school. I believed that you need to get good grades, get a degree, get a good job and somehow life would reward you. I spent many years doing different jobs and even though the experience was really valuable, I felt slightly disillusioned. I was working crazy hours yet barely making enough money to cover my living costs.

As it happened, in 2010 I became very ill and took several months to recover. During that time I had a serious think about my priorities and my conclusion was that I wanted a career with unlimited creative freedom, lots of leisure time and the potential for a much higher income. So here I am, three years later and doing what I’ve always dreamed of. There’s still a long way to go but I’ve never felt happier and more fulfilled!

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Lana Del Rey Plays my Heart Like a Harp

I didn’t intend to fall for Lana Del Rey as my close friend encouraged me to for quite some time. She claimed her style reminded her of me and her lyrics of myself and my love (aka Mister). After finally giving in and accepting the cd to listen to I fell for her instantly. She lives the 50s/60s pop culture and feminine woman’s role beautifully but also incorporates Lolita and a delores-haze of similar undertones such as appreciating the interests, looks and feelings of a creative young girl. She coined herself a ‘self-styled gangsta Nancy Sinatra’ and, my favorite, ‘Lolita lost in the hood’.

Having learned about her music, received her personal videos and researched her brand I feel as though she is special, a very amazing new artist and her music is absolutely jaw-droppingly filled with love, lust and vintage style which both soothes me and eats me alive in my own current situation of a happily ever after love addiction.

“It sounds like one of those insanely rare moments wherein someone from the music industry says “Lolita” and actually seems to mean Lolita, as in the novel, and not some kind of porn-derived mincing, but as in the character Dolores Haze: lover of late-40s movie magazines (there’s that miasma of “old-Hollywood glamour” Del Rey’s inspired by), lover of chewing gum (Stereogum on Del Rey’s “secret” show in NYC: “she chewed a lot of gum”). The Dolores Haze who hails from nearly the same patch of the country as Del Rey; whose profession is once listed as “starlet.” Who winds up tough and blithe, casually schooled in all the ways people manipulate and control one another, living in a dump with a big, hard-of-hearing working man who, if video games had existed in 1952, would likely have wasted a few nights on them.” ~ Why We Fight

Japanese Magazine Clippings: Happy and Free

I’m starting off Wednesday with another Japanese Magazine Clipping Inspiration Board. I’m really loving the 80s-kiddie style they’re bringing back in Japan (as well as Fairy-Kei!) — it’s really exciting for a candy girl like me.

I used to only want to have had kids if I could have them in the late 70s/80s (haha) because everything is so magical then. Don’t you agree?

I’m also so glad they’re re-releasing all the 80s character designs in Japan again, too! It’s like they took a page from the 90s-Miseducated book.. 80s nostalgia & rainbows obsession.

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Japanese Magazine Clippings: Cute and Collected

I went on another Japanese magazine rampage.. I do this once a year usually during the summer when I start to really miss summer in Japan.

I’ve decided that while looking at the magazines, when I see something especially Miseducated I’ll clip it out for you to see.

The magazines I collect from are CUTiE, Kera, Zipper, Spoon and assorted fashion features.

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Did you know there’s a new Japanese magazine called I LOVE MAMA? I’m in love!

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Saved by 6% DokiDoki in Harajuku, Japan

My first time in Harajuku I planned to find 6% DokiDoki and found it with ease, nestled away in it’s little nook of the district. I have always wanted to buy accessories from them due to the drool-worthiness insanity of their items!

I adore the shop and have been many times, it’s absolutely a trip in wonderland. When the antique music started I felt a very familiar feeling rush through me.. it happened that the song was a long, musical version of “A World of my Own – Disney’s Alice” It makes my heart jump talking about it, haha. It was truly a place for me and if it wasn’t always so damn hot and stuffy in there I would stay all day — haha. The perfection doesn’t stop with the decor, the staff wears their own token dokidoki style, sticking the sweet accessories anywhere into their hair or elsewhere. They looked like they fell into a glittery, rainbow, sprinkley, cotton candy ball! I wasn’t allowed to take photos in the store, so these will have to do! It’s rare to be allowed to shoot in a Japanese shop and this one was no exception.

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{ Photos by Amber Renee }

6% DokiDoki Inspiration

Decorate and Upcycle Your Shoes Sweetly

This is a pair of old shoes I had lying around.. I felt they were a bit boring so I rarely wear them. hehe… I think a lot of people have a similar problem, there are always something we don’t want to wear / use, but we are reluctant to throw it away or be wasteful. It is a good idea to give them a new birth with alterations and decoration!

All we need to snazz up these shoes is some lace, two heart-shape cabochons, and some pearls.

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First, wrap the heart-shape cabochons with some lace and sew it tight at the back.

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Then, string up the pearls and sew them around the cabochons.

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Sew some pearls on the ribbon (or shoe!) randomly.

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Finally, stick the cabochons on the ribbon.

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DONE!

Living like a 5-year-old

When I was five years old, if you had asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have stated, very specifically, that I was going to be a pony rider in the circus. Apparently, riding horseback in a tutu with a tent full of people watching was my greatest aspiration. Nowadays, you’ll find me working odd jobs waiting tables, organizing office files, and ringing up sale items to pay my rent, but in my heart, I’m still a performer. True, my dreams have moved beyond the circus saddle to in front of a movie camera, but actresses love their audience too. There are those who find my aspirations foolish, childish, and unrealistic; naysayers who feel it’s time for me to grow up and settle for something more sensible. So far, I’ve refused.

Why is it that we are expected, even encouraged, to have ridiculous ambitions in childhood, but realistic goals as adults? Let’s find ways to keep the magic within us alive even as we grow older. To find out how, I set out to discover what we can learn from the dream jobs of our five-year old selves. Through discussions with friends and family, I’ve compiled a few themes within common childhood dreams and ways to never let go of them.

Art/Entertainment

Creativity is important to us as children. We want to color. We want to create. We want to let our imaginations run wild. Perhaps that’s why the vast majority of the people I asked remembered wanting to do something artistic or entertaining when they grew up. If we’d all had our way, today’s world would be filled with ballerinas, writers, artists, movie stars, and even a few ‘In Living Color’ Fly Girls. Maybe it was the glamour that attracted some, but I think most of us just wanted to express ourselves. That instinct doesn’t have to die with age. Ballerinas and fly girls can take a dance class or volunteer to teach dance to children. Writers can still express themselves in blogs or webzines dedicated to their subject of choice. As for the movie stars, there’s actually a lot more local film opportunity than you might know, find your way in and you can ham it up on your weekends off.

Caring/Helping

As selfish as some children may seem, there are quite a few of us that still care about the rest of the world, even at a young age. A large majority of former five-year olds that I talked to wanted to be veterinarians. As children, we sense the importance of having furry friends in our lives and want nothing more than to help them. Oftentimes this dream falls to the wayside later in life when the reality of a long veterinary education sets in. But fret not; you can still have a taste of your Dr. Doolittle dreams by volunteering at local shelters or adopting your own menagerie of pets. After all, adults need furry friends too.

Inspirational

For every dream that’s set aside, there’s another dream fulfilled. While my research revealed that perhaps superheroes and cowboys are aspirations best left in childhood, there are still several inspirational stories of those who are making their dreams a reality: lawyers just graduating from law school, writers working nightly on their novels, and animal lovers plugging through pre-vet exams. Anything is possible, if it’s what your heart truly wants.

Quick Tips for Making your Dreams a Reality

Be realistic about why you want what you want. Do you want the reality of your dream or the fantasy?
Don’t let television dictate what you think is real. Find out what the job is really like before deciding it’s your ideal.
Start small. No one makes a career happen overnight. Find ways to participate in your dream field, even if they’re not bringing in the big bucks.
Surround yourself with people that understand. You need support to follow your dreams. Nothing picks you up after failure like the voices of those who believe in you completely.
Never stop dreaming. Make a list of new and exciting dreams annually and don’t be afraid if your goals change, just always be honest about what you truly want. Follow your heart and you can do no wrong.

Mew for Today: Where in the World?

It’s been quite a terrible week! What better reason than that to go shopping in Japan? Another department store no less, this one, tailored for us online shoppers! It’s a big stop for Japanese and Americans alike~

I’m a little speechless today because all I want to discuss is the features coming up soon and I’m trying to wait.. 😉 You’re probably not as silly as I am, but if you love toys, cuties, and more you’ll be happy!

Speaking of toys, cuties and more… let’s get a load of the goodies I found while searching high and low in the wonderland of Japanese whimsy splashed product. I’m certainly feeling the urge to go back to my heartland soon… Where do you feel you belong in the world? I’ve been questioning this a lot recently as we’ve been prepared to move for quite awhile and yet we find ourselves unable to make a move.. or should I say ME. Until very soon.

So to relieve my worries I’ve always found happiness in being surrounded in cute, lovely, well-designed items.. I’d love to hear your ways of coping with stress and anxiety as well! Feel free to leave them below — much appreciated~

Did I mention How Magazine added us as one of the Top 10 Sites for Designers this month? It’s funny because I *love* that magazine, always looking hot on the shelves begging me to dive into jumpstartworkmode.