More Kawaii in DC: Japan’s Cult of Cute Comes to the Nation’s Capital

Let’s take a journey to where it all begins ~

Hi yah! I’m Imani K Brown – community founder and active member, coming to take you on a journey of where it all begins for DC Kawaii Style™ and how we’ve made it to this journey of non-profit status.

Happy Wednesday and welcome to

We can’t wait to share more in kawaii with you – from street fashion to art and community. We’ll have you covered with more ways to interact with us even if you aren’t in DC ^.^

YOKOSO! (welcome ^.^)

Break out the tea & cookies and put on your cutest kigu. Time to curl up for a story of bringing more kawaii to Washington, DC.

{ 2014, A Start to Kawaii in DC }

With DC Metro Lolitas

DC Kawaii Style x DC Metro Lolita Kawaii Community

It’s hard to think DC Metro Lolitas – formed with the help of fellow lolita Cassie, the support of Charm City lolita community & the work of a few close friends – is already five years old and it is still growing beyond belief. *bless my frills*

Metro Lolitas was formed in 2013 and partnered with Geek Girl Brunch, DC Chapter to bring together DC’s first ever Harajuku Fashion Walk ^.^

Since lolita communities can be cut throat and leave negative effects on people who just want enjoy exploring the fashion, the inspiration for growing Metro is based on the sentiment that we all have to start somewhere.

Right?!

From that, friends and I had dreams of an overall kawaii community (not just specific to Lolita) where people could talk J-fashion, share kawaii events, and make friends with similar interests all around the city. As a kawaii girl from the hood, I also wanted to find ways to touch the Black community with J-fashion and kawaii culture. (hi Afro Kawaii, we’ll talk more about that soon!)

So we got to work!

With Outreach Workshop Opportunities Happen

kawaii in da hood

In 2014, I was given the opportunity to teach an arts and crafts class, specifically to at-risk youth, at Randall Community Center.

And decided to use the opportunity to see how youth felt about learning kawaii culture through art, crafts and D.I.Y.

To my surprise, it was a MAJOR success!

kawaii in da hood

DC artist, Alicia Cosnahan (also known as Decoy) visited and brought some of her girls for a joint session (or a few hehe) and anime artist Niko visited to help the girls design their own fabric and talk kawaii.

Kawaii in da Hood Was Born

DC Kawaii Style x Kawaii in da Hood

Later came the idea, #KAWAIIindaHood (Kawaii In Da Hood), where we focus on teaching D.I.Y. to inner city youth. The goal of this is to give inner city (what most label at-risk youth) a chance to create and understand that they can transcend their circumstances, through cute culture-related hobbies.

Once labeled at-risk, I want to be able to use my life (upbringing, circumstances, gifts, and my trade) as an example to help youth who are negatively labeled understand that they are greater than their labels, circumstances and stereotypes.

kawaii domo

With our first organizational opportunity at E.L. Haynes for their Wellness Day, I found a cute DOMO-kun DIY perfect as a start. In my head, the NHK mascot was the perfect bridge. There’s more on the D.I.Y. day here.

Also, I was so pleased to know that all students voted our class the best for Wellness Day 2014. *so honored you guise*

Can you believe so many kawaii creative ideas have come along since creating a lolita community?!

Welp. 🤷🏾‍♀️ Please keep reading <3

{ 2015, Serious Steps to A Kawaii DC }

Starts with Kawaii Tattoos + Kawaii Art for Community Efforts

This would be the year I started taking my kawaii aesthetic seriously.

Not only was I exploring Japanese street fashion but also my mental health and tattoo therapy. And doing way more kawaii tattoos.

kawaii tattoos imani k brown

I became transparent of my hobbies, kawaii culture, and how I define MY kawaii.  And the more I was open, the more my dreams to build a kawaii space + grow a community took hold.

Also I knew this journey will take money, so I budgeted a portion of my income from tattoo and started selling my own art to fund the community until we can do better, collectively.

♡・♡・♡

Imani’s dreams be like:

I want to explore kawaii fashion and art, art therapy, and how all these things make me feel. Can they make me better? Are there others out there like me?

What about a kawaii art gallery. I would also like a private tattoo studio.

And I REALLY want to support my kawaii friends and their creative dreams.

Ohhhh what if we had a space. Like a clubhouse?

How do we even promote kawaii in DC? >.<

♡・♡・♡

But as the good saying goes, ain’t nothin’ to it but to do it.

So we did! ^.^

The Birth of DC Kawaii Style™

dc kawaii style

Thinking on all of these feels and talking to DC Metro comm members we thought maybe a public community and platform would be fun. Plus #KAWAIIindaHood is seasonal. So, here it is – we created DC KawaiiStyle™.

※A community that seeks to introduce & promote the philosophy of kawaii (cute) culture as a fun, happy, & positive lifestyle alternative.

  • Our First Convention

imani k brown

After meets & events like Big Bus TourInternational Lolita Day Brunch x Fashion WalkMagical Girl Brunch, we thought to keep the ball rolling as best we could.

Having always wanted to do conventions, we applied to Waku Waku +NYC – the first J-pop culture convention for the East Coast. And for us, it was a great time to start learning convention circuits and intertwining those goals.

Everything was great and now to make sure the community is alive and well in DC (of all places haha)

  • Our Inaugural Tea Party

kawaii tea party

Ain’t no tea party like a DC Kawaii Style Tea Party ~

People from communities all over came to kick it, kawaii style!

Our sweet treats and hemp tea were the best things poppin! Everyone’s co-ords were on fleck and there were a lot of smiles.

It felt like a sunny day in Harajuku, I swear!

The day’s feelings definitely made me want to push harder to make this feeling happen always, in DC.

  • Continuing Creative Community  Outreach

Outreach never fell by the wayside because we were communing <3

There were plenty more opportunities in tow, which included  more wellness at E.L. Haynes and Be Beautiful Foundation.

  • International Sister Communitities and Support

I didn’t know DC Kawaii Style had a cheer squad and gained a TON of support from friends local and abroad, thanks to my good friend and kawaii sis Rainbowholic.

We officially became affiliated with Kawaii Philippines.

And thinking so much of our efforts, they included a listing of us in their Kawaii PH book, Beyond the Cutest Dreams. (file this under a million things I would have NEVER imagined)

DC KawaiiStyle: KAWAII Affiliations copy

{ 2019, Sharing the Kawaii Way }

DC Kawaii Style has had tremendous success in growing with recent milestones like becoming an award winning community.

And we’re all very excited to share The Kawaii Way with you!

GET INVOLVED 

Download the DC Kawaii Style Press Kit

to learn more about the community, accomplishments, our embedded niche communities and all that we as an organization has to offer.

Maybe there are cool ways we can share in the kawaii way, TOGETHER!