TV: How do you attempt to capture “aggressive cuteness” and why? What does that phrase mean to you?
KJ: Lifestyle-wise, being aggressively cute means you would never try to hide what you love, and if anyone has anything to say about it they can suck it! I love wearing alternative fashion so much that I work very hard to create a life where I can do so as much as possible. I know many others that follow my profile want that too but are too afraid of being judged, so they relegate themselves to having one cute button or a single streak of purple hair when they’d rather have a head of pastel curls and a purple bedroom.
I think seeing someone like me owning a business, working full-time as a graphic designer, and married, they can feel like adulthood and whimsy can reside together. For the clothes I design, I often have curse words, sexual themes, and weapons mixed with the pastel or rainbow color schemes. I think goths and punks have a stylish and tough air to them, but my fellow pink punks can be tough too. My brand is for those that are sweet but are not naive or shy about what they want.
TV:_ What are your earliest style memories, and how did they inform your work now?
KJ: My parents very much valued being fashionable because they were artists themselves in the music industry. My earliest style memories came from my mom, who has always supported me developing my own taste. I remember my mom showing me stuff from the Avril Lavigne skater girl collection and me giving her an excited yes in the store. I would tell her what I wanted to dress like, and she would help me find items that fit that look. She always said to only buy clothes that you love so every outfit is your favorite. This made shopping and curating my style a fun journey rather than an intimidating task, like it can be for someone new to dressing out of the norm.
I wasn’t always supported, though. My stepmother, for example, was the total opposite and thought I should be cautious of wearing weird things. She was afraid I’d be bullied or that it meant I’d go down a “dark path.” I think a lot of my work is working through that dichotomy. Embracing my mother’s energy and rejecting those that challenged my dreams, telling me I could be creative but only in a certain way.
TV: How have people responded to your account? What do you hope they take away from interacting with it?
KJ: The response has been amazingly positive so far and I’ve made so many new friendships and connections from running it. I especially love when other dark-skinned women see my pictures and realize that they can be colorful too. Or when customers share how confident they feel in their Hard Decora clothes. I hope that people feel inspired by my account but even more so, empowered! Empowered to be cute in any way they see fit.
TV: What other things should we know about you and your work?
KJ: I cohost a podcast with my friend Hayden called O-kei Podcast. We cover Japanese alternative fashion topics and conduct interviews with those in the alternative fashion community from a Western perspective. If you’re also into comics, I just launched Hard Decora: The Comic #1 that’s about Hard Decora, a mischief-loving girl gang that sells candy on the streets and wears colorful outfits, and the basic girl who wants to join them.