Archive for the ‘About Me’ Category


Where’s My Red Hair From?

In About Me, answers,Hair on January 9, 2011 by Naoko Takano

Hi Carly! I just found your blog yesterday and I loved it so much I have been going through all your old posts! (Is that creepy? haha) This may seem a bit strange, but I was wondering if you are Irish. I LOVE your red hair!
The Internet is probably the best place for creepiness! Thanks for your kind words about my blog:-)
I am ethnically Scottish/Danish/Norwegian/Czechoslovakian. (“Cais” is a Czech name.) But both my parents are Australians and I was born in the U.S., so I was originally American/Australian… Well, technically American now since I dropped the Australian nationality off my passport (I have only visited there a couple times and though all my relatives are there, I really just identify as American).
The red hair probably comes from the Scottish and the Czech sides of my family; apparently I have a second cousin in the Czech Republic who has hair the exact same color as mine. It’s tough to keep vibrant during the winter – and as the years go by!! :..(

Articles Question and Answer Marathon Part 2

In About Me, answers on December 8, 2010 by Naoko Takano

It’s been awhile since I’ve gotten to, and there’s been questions piling up.  Here’s a bunch that kind of pertain to me, & my opinions etc.:

hey carly! what do you think about lauren conrad’s book style? thanks!

Well, I haven’t read it (and I have never seen “The Hills” so have only an inkling of her claim to fame), but if there’s even one tip or idea in there that is helpful or new then it’s all worth it!  More power to her!

Socks or bare feet (and why)?? 

Socks…and legwarmers…and slippers!  My feet and ankles get really cold year-round.  Probably bad circulation or sumpin.’

how did you do the gradual glitter manicure that you have on your nails in the diy challenge tutorials? 

Done by a gel nail professional in 3 layers.  She mixed gel with fine glitter, spread it on the nail, then hardened them.  Then she mixed more gel with medium-chunky glitter and spread it on the nail tips, and hardened them.  Then she sealed it all with another layer of clear gel and hardened it.

I love your photos – they look so professional..what type of camera do you use? Does it have a timer where you take your own shots or do you have a photographer?

Thanks for your kind words!  For most of my photos we use a Canon EOS 40D with a removable Speedlite 430EX II Flash and a 77mm (woops, my bad – edited 12/10) 24-105mm f/4 L lens.  The shots were I am visible or both my hands are in the shot (like my tutorials) are taken by my husband.  The rest of them are taken by me.  Sometimes when traveling it isn’t efficient to take this heavy camera and all its equipment, and so then we use a Sony Cybershot DSC-TX7.  The Canon has a self-timer but to our knowledge it will only take one shot at a time, so it’s just easier to wheedle my husband into taking my shots, though I am barking out directions on how to frame me and what details to take every step of the way.:-)

Hi Carly! I was reading you post about you Husband and you anniversary. I know you said you guys were fated for each other and I wanted to know if you believed in soulmates? Thanks for answering!

Sure I believe in soulmates – i.e., two people who feel so deeply connected they feel it’s at their souls.   I also believe that someone could have many soulmates; i.e., a different person who just fits perfectly with them at a certain point in their lives.  However, I don’t think one’s soulmate is necessarily the best person to spend the rest of your life with.  All of us change due to environmental factors, pressure from jobs, family roles, friends, changing situations, and maturity – someone who fits perfectly with you at a specific point in your life may not still fit with you 10 years (or even 5 years!) down the road as you change and mature.  I think the key to finding a successful long-term relationship is not to find the person who fits perfectly with you at the current moment, but to find the person who is a good-enough-fit for you, at present and in the future, and all the changes that you will weather throughout your life.  The median of all the ups and downs, if you will. And if that person happens to be your “soulmate,” then you’ve just won the lottery, lady!:-)

Hi Carly! I love your website and all your DIY’s. I’m an aspiring graphic designer and I wanted to know how did you go about getting/finding jobs like your recent one for Set Theory? I’m really interested into becoming a freelance graphic designer as well 

Thanks for your kind words!  I haven’t had an exactly stellar record in the the getting/finding jobs arena, and have only looked in the obvious places (postings on or Craigslist, for example).  The “Set Theory” thing was a fluke, really – I just happened to meet the creator of it, and volunteered my time doing whatever they needed for the shoot. Volunteering your skills or interning could be a great way to get people to vouch for you, to network, and to stay connected to your industry.  You could get involved with your college alumni group in the area to network that way as well, or see if there are professional associations in your field.  You could also check out for informal gatherings and groups that might be of interest. Also, definitely check out if you haven’t already, as she is a freelance graphic designer and has a ton of tips for doing that, as well as advice on branding, portfolio-creation, networking, and marketing yourself.  It’s a must-read.

Part 1: What do you consider to be your personal favorite and least favorite of your own physical features?

I like my face in profile – I can see a number of my female ancestors in its shape.  Least favorite: a tie between my jawline and my knees…neither of which can be remedied by working out, diet, or anything else DIY.

Part 2: What are personal favorite and least favorite character traits about yourself? Emotionally, mentally, etc…. ???? 

Favorite: I’m really quick at thinking up solutions to problems…except when they’re my own LOL.  Least Favorite: I take everything reaaallly personally.  Comments on my blog, people who stop following my blog, people who don’t return email, family not celebrating a holiday that’s really important to me…  The ideas of “let things slide off your back” or “go with the flow” are difficult for me to master.

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Do you have any fashion/ or just blogs that you love to visit everyday?

I’ll visit daily since I love their witty sense of humor, and I’ll always pop in and check …love, maegan to see what she’s been up to. I’ll visit every couple of days, along with a couple other style blogs.  But those are probably my big fave 3 right there.

Hope that satisfies some of your curiosity!;-)

Next up in Part 3: DIY’ing answers!

Ask me anything


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LAST DAY in my 30 Days of Outfits Challenge

In About Me,DIY,My Clothing Designs,Outfits on December 2, 2010 by Naoko Takano

 Rhinestone Dangle Earrings: Forever 21.  Small Crystal Studs: handmade by me.  Dress with Cut-Out Back and Swarovski Crystal Detailing: handmade by me.  Magazine Clutch: DIY.  Pleated Satin Shoes: Charlotte Russe.

Day 30 in my 30 Days of Outfits Challenge: November 30.

Boy, these 30 days have flown by!

I felt it appropriate to end these 30 days in the Dress That Began It All, also known as the Bacardi Limon dress.

No, it didn’t mark the start of my DIY’ing!  (I’ve been making my own stuff since I was 9.)

This dress was officially the start of my Fashion Career.

Rewind to Winter of 2006…I was a stay-at-home mom to a baby just over a year old, and my days were filled from morning to night with bottlesdiaperslaundrycleaningplayingwithbaby / bottlesdiaperslaundrycleaningreadingtobaby / bottlesdiaperslaundrycleaningmakingdinnerforeveryone / bottlesdiaperslaundrycleaningcomfortingbaby etc.  I did have a Mom’s Club meeting once a week, but otherwise that was my life.  It had been so long since I had done anything creative.  It was a very difficult time for me.

I began to have more stamina to stay awake after Lil Tot had gone down for the night, so I would try to catch up on email and surf the web a little.  One night I happened upon a posting about a design competition, sponsored by and The Daily – where entrants had to sketch a dress inspired by the flavor of Bacardi Limon.

Now, being a nondrinker, I had no idea what Bacardi Limon even was, but I read the press releases about the new flavor and over the course of 2 evenings or so I sketched 6 designs, inked and watercolored them, scanned them, and then sent them in to the contest.  It was right before Christmas and I had been staying up late trying to get all my Christmas cards written, and instead for two evenings I just immersed myself in what I loved: designing and drawing.

And then I completely forgot about them and the contest and everything.  I just figured I didn’t win.  Life went on, pretty much unchanged.

And then in February I heard the phone ring while I was lying down next to Lil Tot trying to lull him into taking his morning nap (which he refused to do unless I was lying down with him).  I couldn’t answer it and it went to the answering machine.  After Lil Tot finally fell asleep despite the interruption, I went to check on the message.

And was utterly stumped by its contents.  I had to play it a few times to understand it.  Someone who I didn’t know, from some number in a New York area code, calling from a something-Group, wanted me to call her immediately about some competition.  And then I realized what it was, called, and was told  

I was one of the 5 finalists they had picked from more than 300 entries around the United States in that Bacardi Limon design competition!

The dress design that was chosen as a finalist.

A whirlwind ensued.  It turned out that the PR group had picked the dress I had designed that had a cut-out in the back, like a lemon slice, as the finalist entry.  I had to make the dress I designed.  I was being flown to New York to compete in a live “Cut-and-Sew” competition “just like Project Runway” that would be televised and everything.  I made another dress in black to take with me to New York and wear while there.  I went in March 2007.  It was the first time I had been away from Lil Tot so long (I’d only been away from him at the most for 3 hours up until then, since he had born 15 months prior).  I met the other finalists in the competition, some who’ve remained my friends to this day.  I did the live Cut-and-Sew, where I made yet another version of the yellow dress. 

At the live cut-and-sew competition, where we had just about 7 hours to make our dresses again.
At the event after-party.  Photo by FashionWireImage’s Dmitris Kambouris.

I didn’t win, but I returned home determined to make my 15 minutes of fame into something worthwhile.  I parlayed that press coverage and local interest into a great story for me founding a misses’ line of clothing and jewelry.  I hired a party planner and PR whiz who helped me plan a launch party for the line, inviting the who’s who of the fashion elite and helping me with press releases, gift bags, branding, the works.  I hired a patternmaker to make and grade the patterns, a samplemaker to make the samples.  I bought fabric and had it shipped from LA to Hawaii, where I lived at the time.  I produced a line, had a runway show, trotted it to local boutiques trying to sell it.  A few pieces ended up in a few places. 

 The models from the launch party and runway show, myself, my patternmaker, and samplemaker.  Photo by Elliot Takane.

Hub believed in me and allowed me to use our savings for this venture.  I began to produce a Winter Collection and then began to run out of money.  The previous pieces weren’t selling well, there were fit and sewing issues.  Much of it was returned.  I couldn’t pay anyone else to help me and couldn’t do it all myself anymore.  We moved to Oregon in late Fall and I officially closed the line down.  And I also reached out to to see if they wanted someone to write content for them, so I could at least stay connected to the world of fashion even if I couldn’t design.

So I wrote for them.  And wrote for them.  And started my own blog.  And wrote for it.  And wrote and contributed to other blogs and websites.  And started to design things again, on a small scale, to sell in my Etsy shop.

And here I am today.

Now all that was a bit of a tangent.:-)  I guess the point of all this is that sometimes the path from A to B is not in a straight line, and what seems tangential is actually useful experience that sets us up for something better.

I still want to design; I love designing but I HATE the manufacturing of clothing, and being financially responsible for all of it.  It’s very scary for a small, struggling family to take on ourselves.  Not a very good idea.  And it’s too much work for a single person to run an entire line by themselves, even with a patternmaker helping out.  Plus I enjoy more working within parameters – maybe not pushing boundaries so much, but working within someone else’s aesthetic or color story or mood board or whatever.

I’m glad I found that out about myself!  Who knows if I ever will get the opportunity to design for someone else…but it’s been a great journey, and I’ve learned a ton along the way.

That’s why this dress is so special: it truly marks the beginning.  (The other yellow dresses I made for the competition were kept by the PR company as far as I know.)

The dress I designed was a boatneck 50’s style flared party dress that I drafted the pattern to.  (For the yellow, I turned the yellow satin inside-out since I liked the matte side better:-)  I added a double-layer of iridescent chiffon to the hem.  The back was a complicated citrus-shaped cut-out with floating bands attached to a central ring, and Swarovski crystal “seeds” suspended in the bands.

I am a much better sewer and patternmaker now than I was then – and the back of the dress was extremely complicated.  I knew exactly what I wanted for securing the Swarovski rhinestones into the cutout, but I couldn’t find elasticized crochet cord sold by the yard.  The back was very difficult to fit properly.

The clutch was made by gluing a magazine cover onto a small clutch from Target with E-5000 glue.  Any flexible glue would work here, though.

30 Days of Outfits – ALL DIY!  What fun it’s been!

Also, if you’re curious to see how others fared, please check out Katarina from She sells sea shells, who’s been doing this Challenge along with me – you can see her last couple outfits here, here, and here.


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Hub: The Man Behind the Camera

In About Me,Announcements on November 30, 2010 by Naoko Takano

A reader asked who takes my pictures.  That would be this person – my husband, or who I call “Hub” for short.  He is the person who takes my photos…well, at least the photos where I am visible.  For most of my tutorials, atmosphere photos, and close-up shots, I am wielding the camera.

For everything else, it’s Hub.

It is also, incidentally, the anniversary of they day Hub and I started dating today!

10 years to the date.  

I can’t believe I’ve been with the same person for 10 years (a decade…all of my 20’s, really).  It’s mind-boggling!

Hub is a very shy, private person and from the beginning insisted on me keeping him out of my blog, never sharing his name or face on the internet. (same for Lil Tot)  He is very kind and loyal, very technical when it comes to electronic stuff (he’s obsessed with cell phones, for instance), is not particularly “chatty” or “social,” and tends to just go with the flow most of the time.  He goes out of his way to make sure other people are content (often to his own personal discomfort) and is incapable of being dishonest or devious in any way.

We met in Tokyo sometime in mid-to-late November 2000, and started dating shortly thereafter.  In 2002 when my visa expired and I had to return stateside, Hub transferred to Temple University in the U.S. so we could stay together.  In 2004 after he graduated, he wanted to move back to Hawaii, where he’d gone to high school.  So we moved there, and got married in April of 2004 (though we put off having the ceremony until a year later so our families from their respective countries could both attend).  In October 2005 our son was born in Honolulu.  In 2007 Hub put in for a transfer through his job, and we moved to Oregon in November.  Now he attends pilot school full-time and is working towards getting his commercial license (he already has his private pilot license), a dream that he first told me about soon after we met 10 years ago.

We knew almost from the moment we met that we were fated to be together.  

I know that sounds corny but both of us kind of felt like we had found a “match” in each other.  I, an American having spent 6 years in Japan, and he, a Japanese having spent 5 years in the U.S.  Both of us were fluent in the other’s language.  Both of us had lived too long in the other’s country to just return to life as normal in our own.  That expatriate experience we both had had when we were both very young was a shared experience that not many other people had…which was probably why we clicked so well.  He was steady and dependable and had an offbeat sense of humor.  I think he was drawn to my creativity and “anything-is-possible” attitude.

So, from Tokyo to Philadelphia to Honolulu to Portland...through 10 years of visas, pets, graduations, moves, continents, jobs, apartments, kids, and first houses…it’s always been us two, separated from both of our families by thousands of miles, most of our best friends by oceans or more…it’s been a long journey, and hopefully it’s only just begun!

circa 2001

Happy Anniversary, dear Hub!


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Me at Portland Fashion Week

In About Me,Portland Fashion Week,Pro Photoshoots on October 16, 2010 by Naoko Takano

Courtesy of Fred Joe.

This photo had me ROFL’ing.  LOVE the guy’s expression in the foreground!  (Then, my second thought: I look exhausted.)

What a great photo!  Thanks so much, Fred – you’re amazing!

Check out Fred’s gallery of photos from Portland Fashion Week (including some of Seth Aaron and Jay Nicolas Sario).  He’s such a talented photographer – I could only dream of being even half as good.


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My Experience in Japan: Question

In About Me, answers,Japan on September 19, 2010 by Naoko Takano

how long did you live in japan? was there a reason you were in japan in the first place? why did you move back? i have so many questions, sorry.
Hi there!
I’ve lived in Japan 6 years total. My family moved there when I was 11 (back in 1990) for my father’s work. (He was a research chemist.) We lived there 3 years and then we moved back to the States once my father’s contract was up. I finished high school in the U.S. In college I did a year study abroad in Tokyo, and then after I graduated college I went back to Japan to go to animation school for 2 years. Once I graduated I wanted to work in the U.S. (plus my visa was expiring), so I once again moved back to the States. Hope that answers your questions!:-)