Is there a relationship between your identity (queer/gender/ethnicity/otherwise) and the work you make?
Most of my identities don’t fit within neat categories; I’m queer/bisexual, non-binary, and mixed-race. Within each of these identities, I’ve encountered othering and dismissal of my identity, being held at a distance from communities on either side of the divide. In my work, I create bold and attention-demanding statement pieces that shout at onlookers, “I’m here, I’m valid, and I won’t be ignored!"
How has being non-binary affected your life and how you view the clothing you chose to wear?
Up until college, I didn’t have the vocabulary for my gender identity; all I knew were cisgender and transgender, and I didn’t identify with being trans so I thought I must be cis. Once I learned about gender fluidity and the term non-binary, it all fit into place. I love how fluid my clothing is as a reflection of how I’m feeling on the daily. I base my outfits on my mood, and since my gender is something that shifts, I’m able to blend masculine with feminine and androgynous pieces to make myself feel good about how I’m presenting myself. I like to think of clothes as battle armor that I draw strength from as I venture out into the world.
Do you think that when it comes to being non-binary, there is a stigma that comes along with it?
I definitely think there’s a stigma attached to being non-binary, and that we encounter a lot of gatekeeping from others when we don’t fit certain molds of gender expression. I often present hyper-feminine, and can be made to feel like I’m not androgynous enough to identify as non-binary, even though there’s no one way to “look non-binary” since gender identity is a deep internal sense of self and not visible. I believe there’s still a lot of general ignorance about being non-binary outside of the transgender experience, which might cause the confusion or dismissal of our identity by others who don’t understand.
What is the reason behind your colorful, pastel clothing?
I love to dress in colorful and pastel clothing because it brings me joy. I discovered the subculture of Japanese fairy-kei fashion in 2007, which incorporates 80s pop culture and vintage with DIY and candy-colored elements. A major component of the subculture was the idea of dressing for oneself and challenging societal standards of what is considered normal and conventionally attractive. That message has stuck with me throughout the years and reflects my attitude on how I choose my outfits. I used to feel ashamed for liking child-like, hyper-feminine things since my personality is more serious and masculine and I was nervous about being judged. Now that I’m confident in who I am, and what I like, I don’t let those worries hold me back from expressing myself however I want.
What motivates you to create the artwork and products you do?
Creating art is always therapeutic for me, and I use it as a way to express myself when I don’t feel like speaking. Each line or stroke of color becomes apart of a dialogue that I’m creating and reflecting on— and I’m much more interested in the process than the finished result. On the other hand, my wearable products are created with different intentions. I consider accessories and jewelry as decorations for everyday life, kind of like the stickers you use to glam up a scrapbook page. I draw inspiration for my jewelry from specific colors, shapes, and items that I think would be fun to decorate my wardrobe with— like a giant necklace featuring a bright rainbow surrounded by dangling hearts. A lot of my pieces are super glossy to add to the cartoon factor by looking like hard candy.
What the best thing about being a business owner? The hardest?
The best thing about being a small business owner is being able to connect with people who value my art and seeing the joy my handmade pieces bring to others around the world. The most difficult part about running my own business is handling the financial aspect in a way that’s fair to me as well as my customers.
What is the main goal behind what you do?
One of my main motivations is to be the sunshine in someone’s day. From the playful statement jewelry I make to the bold fashion choices I wear, I hope to remind others to celebrate life and enjoy the little things that bring us joy. Over the years, I’ve had people say to me that they wish they could pull off wearing the things I do, and my response to that is always: you can! That’s one of the reasons I opened my shop— to encourage others to invite whimsy into their wardrobe and stop getting so caught up in feeling like growing up means growing dull.
Who are your fashion/beauty icons? Whose look inspires you?
Two beauty icons I look up to areJamie Windust andRin Rodriguez, who are unapologetically colorful and bold in both their makeup styles and personalities. It gives me so much joy and validation to see them thriving since they also identify as non-binary. I’m a huge fan of the outrageous, avant-garde style, and Jamie and Rin are always cooking up fun looks that inspire me to approach beauty more playfully.
What is next for you? Do you have any hopes, dreams, plans you are excited about?
I’m really excited to continue growing my small business this year, as it’s been a passion project of mine for a while but one that I’ve only recently begun taking seriously in the last couple years. I’m planning on participating in more pop-up vending events, such as downtown Artwalks, indie art events, and LGBT-friendly spaces. I hope to connect with more people looking to bring more color and fun into their lives!