I don't know how to start this but I will do my best. :-)
Last year, around October - November, I was having a personal dilemma with Rainbowholic. Yep, this blog.
I have always loved sharing. I like taking time snapping photos, whether the subject is just a new pocky flavor released in 7-eleven or just a random sticker on a wall in Harajuku. I love taking videos from my perspective and making a music video out of it-- with the exact feel when I was in that moment of capturing. Thanks to TokyoFashion.com, I was able to have opportunities to produce freely... and making people feel that they were with me in those fashion-related events.
Another thing that I like doing is working with like-minded people. I love pooling people together, leading a group, and having a goal with everyone. Nothing beats the feeling of surpassing a target dream.. and having people with you to celebrate its sweet success. Back in college, I was the VP for Creative for my course (Advertising Management)'s official organization (AdCreate Society)… and we jumped from the 17th place (can't remember) to the Top 4 org list in the whole campus. After that life-changing experience, I felt that working with the team / bringing out the best in everyone was really something that I'd like to do in the future.
And then it happened, that future has become "now"… huhuhu. *tears* *hugs JapanLover.me*
As much as I'd like to work with a team, my current job as an overall assistant / right-hand person for my brother in his Japan-based company which he built from scratch, I am unable to do that. I also just couldn't see myself working for another company and make it earn (lol) so I've got to find a way where my brother can allow me to do the kind of work I like.. and still being home-based.
I had thoughts of "expanding" Rainbowholic but no matter how I think of another way to do it, it's just not right. I cannot do that. Rainbowholic will lose its personal charm and I don't want that to happen. At the same time, I also want Rainbowholic to grow in another way… I don't want it to become that kind of blog that is being bombarded with sponsors (I think it's quite stressful to deal with lots of sponsors every single day, and my blog will just turn into a visual magazine full of ads..). I don't want just to become a "blogger", when I know within me that I can do so much more. I had been spending too much time inside my room and sharing what happened for the past days/weeks.. it was real fun but at some point, I realized that I've got to move forward & do something more challenging. I can't just say "I want to do this, do that" while staying still… I had to doodle a venn diagram so I can figure out how I can make everything work out the way I like it, without sacrificing my initial responsibilities.
And that was when I finally realized that I should just create another outlet. Another outlet that would use the advantage of me having so much love for Japan + being in Japan as well.
And at the center of the diagram, I came up with www.japanlover.me.
During the start of www.japanlover.me, I only thought of having "Kawaii" and "Otaku" as the two kinds of JapanLovers (fyi, "otaku" is a widely-accepted term already so self-proclaimed japan culture experts.. please -_-). After contemplating & brainstorming on my own for so many days because I knew there was something missing.. my brother then told me that a Japan culture enthusiast (not necessarily into cute or anime stuff) is definitely a JapanLover. And for me, modern & traditional Japan are both "COOL". Hence, Cool JapanLover became the third addition to complete my initial JapanLover.me concept.
At first, I only commissioned my talented online twin / illustrator friend ChiChi, who is currently based in Manila. I thought I could do everything on my own, and I did try too… After nights and more frustrating nights, I suddenly had a creative block and I almost gave up on this website. Actually, my direction for JapanLover.me had changed so much. If I wrote down all the ideas on a scratch paper, my room at that time would be filled with crumpled papers everywhere.
Then during late November until the start of January, I was feeling pretty depressed that I simply had no inspiration nor motivation to continue it. I was pretty down, and only two words can describe what I was feeling that time-- deep sh_t. :)) So true, haha.
After talking to my brother (who during that time, was so concentrated in arranging papers for a bank loan), I thought I should jumpstart this project again. It took so many effort just to get myself up early in the morning, to constantly remind myself that "this will be worth it, this will be worth it…".. You guys, I had to ask myself over and over again "How much do you want this, Kaila?" .. of course, my answer would be, very very very very x 10 much.
Day by day, my ideas were turning more ambitious. I needed someone who will actualize it with me. After chatting with ChiChi for a couple of minutes on Facebook, I got her as my partner & official illustrator for www.japanlover.me. I knew our "tandem" would be a hit and I really want to introduce her kawaii art more.. to the WORLD (not just in Manila, wherein she is not being treated the way she deserves to be.. as an artist). Since I was distracted also because of my previous matters of the heart (omg haha wtffffff), I asked her if she could help me deactivate my personal Facebook account so just I can hibernate well while concentrating on this project 10000%. My mind had to be focused on other stuff, or else my eyes would suffer because of unintentional crying moments. :)))) For 3 months or so, I was using another Facebook account (my friends wondered why I disappeared, woops) for easier chatting with ChiChi and of course.. I need to update my Rainbowholic fan page regularly as well. I would say that during the creation of JapanLover.me, it was a life-changing experience for me. I realized so many things… who my real friends were, my paint tolerance brought upon gallstone attacks (caused by stress), and so much more. Personal bootcamp, anyone?
For a month or so, we would wake up early, sleep late, talk about our big dreams… we used different platforms to connect & list our tasks well. We have lots of google doc spreadsheets & it was enjoyable for us whenever we would highlight a completed task. There was almost never a day I didn't talk to ChiChi / send emails to possible collaborators. During that time, I asked favors from friends as well. For their inputs & additional ideas.. I even asked my college best friend Gracie (who isn't really that into Japanese culture) to help me with copywriting. My family members were very supportive as well, my sis-in-law & cousin helped me setup some pages in the website, since I'm always running out of time to do the job. I thought I could present and launch www.japanlover.me last February, and then it got moved.. and moved for so many times. It was simply not enough, and I don't like present half-baked / half-hearted projects. It is not my style. Kaila style is always her 1000000% BEST.
Then one time, I just tweeted what I was feeling that time. I was so overwhelmed because my mentors / idols from TokyoFashion.com shared me their insights about this + Anggy Cempaka of Enji agreed to collaborate with JapanLover. There was this great chance I could talk to my mentors from TokyoFashion.com... and our conversation really struck me. I was feeling a bit at a loss that time because my head was in chaos (too much ideas but the direction was twisted) but when Mori-san told me that "You just gotta keep going, try out everything.. and see what works.".. and everyday, it was my mantra. KEEP GOING.
Anyway back to that tweet. After I posted that random tweet… I received a response from a friend / colleague in college. It was from Mishie!
She told me she wanted to do something to help out or contribute.. and it was just perfect timing because ChiChi and I were having problems with copywriting / overall text. I am not really confident with my English (my grammar is just so-so). So I narrated everything to her, it was such a long email full of excitement, ideas.. and it felt like I was back in college, brainstorming with a group. Actually, I had worked with Mishie before at AdCreate Society. She has always been competent and I didn't have problems with her because when she'd deliver work for the org, she's always been so professional! And she is so good with words + she has talent in illustrating as well..! So from ChiChi and Kaila's twinship, it became "Dream Tweam" for the three of us. Twin + Team =... Tweam. HAHAHAHA omg
I can't remember how long we worked for this website after Mishie got in as well. I think it was around 2 months or so.. You guys should read Mishie's own JapanLove narration here, you would be surprised & shocked!
Can you imagine how we all worked together when we are all in different places (and timezones)? You could say that because we share the same passion, all the sacrifices we made (sleepless nights, friday nights and weekends at home.. in front of the computer -_-).. we knew it would be all worth it in the end. This is why I am very thankful to meet and find these people to build my dream.. that became a shared dream for all of us. And no, we don't earn from this website yet , but later on.. we will strategize so that we can make this a better platform for every Kawaii / Cool / Otaku JapanLover out there. :-)
(this was a very emotional moment for me, haha!)
Even after we launched successfully (we got 11k likes during our soft launch campaign?!), the challenges just kept coming. As the head troublemaker in the team, even if I had personal obligations that I needed to attend.. I had to be responsible to juggle everything since JapanLover.me was still very ripe and new. Everything was happening to me all at the same time and it was the busiest time in my life! I was having this Kawaii Leader tour with NHK World (Kawaii International program) for a week, and every night I would check updates for this project-turned-fun-work & need to make sure we are going in a steady / improving phase. Kawaii "leader" by day, dedicated JapanLover.me team leader by night. And of course, I had to help my brother in his work from time to time! 24 hours a day wasn't / still isn't enough… *_* But what the hell, if you really want to make it happen, there's got to be a way. There has to be. ^^
I know it is still early to say that JapanLover.me is a real success project but I just can't help but feel thankful to everyone who has shown support from the very start.
Talking about this >> Likes = WIN!
Funny how I was just sharing this vision of mine to Emika-chan before (while we were having a date in Doraemon Museum, haha!), and now.. I can't believe I've collaborated with her for many photoshoots already (I'll treat you many cheeseburgers when we see each other again). My Tracy-neechan & bestfriend Aya saw and witnessed how much I struggled to pull myself together, to restart this passion-filled dream. I cannot thank these people enough for always pushing me, saying "Gambatte" almost every day, keeping my mind off from the things that used to make me sad. There were so many days I would relapse to my frustrated self.. and having friends to lift each other's spirits up, it's really something to be thankful for.
My Indonesian best friend Leen fully showed her support and took time to write about her vacation as a contribution for Cool Japan Lover's travel guide…. my high school friend Reese created a wonderful visual letter for her love for Japan. Jin, one of the people whom I look up to (and stayed humble for all of these years in the cosplay scene in Manila), willingly agreed to be featured ;_;. I remember Justin posting photos from his Japan trip with his family and I thought that his photos are super share-worthy + would be a great addition for JapanLover.. and he willingly obliged to send hi-res photos of his Kyoto trip..
Christina, my fun friend from Harajuku Fashion Walk, shared her life as a fashion student here in Tokyo. We even met up so I can introduce this idea to her.. *_* My brother Eric's Vietnamese best friend Huy-san, filled my empty external harddrive with all the Japan photos that he has with him. My brother told me it took a whole day just to rearrange all the photos, etc.. omg ;__; Ashley, who I just met via twitter and currently residing in Kobe, came up with a Kobe travel guide article. Iida-san, my brother's Japanese business partner, helps me with Japanese-English translation... ;_; There are sooooo much more people involved, you wouldn't believe it. ;_; *bows down to everyone*
JapanLover.me was not only built by me... nor my "dream tweam" only. It's a love project fulfilled between the team & friends / collaborators who believed that this would turn out something great. And boy.. everyday, it's just amazing how much it grows. :") *tsunami of tears*
I know you guys are probably tired of reading my thanks or whatever (hahaha) but I can't help it. ;___;
I would like to express my deepest & sincerest thanks to every Rainbowholic reader out there who generously gave me lots of motivational comments & cheers for www.japanlover.me! Before, I was just telling you about this "secret project" I was slaving for (sorry for the term, haha).. now, it's been a month or so! ;_; I consider you guys are the initial supporters & super ARIGATOUUUUU for helping me spread the worldwide JapanLove. ;_;
I shall "motto gambarimasu" (do my best more),
(To ChiChi & Mishie.. someday, both of you will witness everything I'm seeing in Japan too. I will do my best to bring you guys here. )