Meet the Creator: Callie
Hey there, Kei Club! Welcome to our blog 💖 Check here to see updates on the zine, including gift reveals, guest announcements, sneak previews, and so much more! We decided to use these first few posts to introduce the creators of Kei Club, Kit and Callie! First off: Callie!
Hi, I’m Callie💕 You may know me as Calliope, Callie O, Callie Ota-Q, or even Courtney at this point! I tend to go by a lot of nicknames, haha! I’m the owner of Ota-Q Apparel, an indie clothing brand that focuses on making cute clothing available and affordable for all sizes and gender identities! This business has brought me a lot of wonderful opportunities, like holding a couple of my own fashion shows, meeting some of my fashion heroes, and being featured in magazines. I’m also one of the coordinators for Houston Harajuku Fashion Walk and host j-fashion meets in my local area when I have time!
My love for j-fashion and kawaii culture started when I lived in Japan from 2009 to 2014 (basically my high school years). Before then, my understanding of anime and j-fashion were basically limited to Pokémon, Dragon Ball Z, Puffy Ami Yumi, and Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku Girls 😅
I wish I had more photos of my time there, but unfortunately most of my photos from that time look like this....... I was super edgy, haha😅 It was a time when my mental illness just started to get really bad, so my self confidence plummeted. On top of that, I was pretty confused about my sexuality and gender identity and basically rejected all things feminine.
Discovering lighthearted anime like Precure and more feminine styles like lolita and fairy kei really helped bring my hopes up! I definitely wasn’t openly engaging with these concepts yet, but I was building up a small collection of accessories, toys and things I found cute✨ I finally started trying to wear jfashion around 2012, but my lack of money and understanding meant these attempts were well.... I’m glad I don’t have any pics of it lol!
And now we’re here! I’ve been using my art to fill a gap and show representation for fat, Black, mentally ill NB’s like myself! Saying it like that makes me come off as a “Tumblr snowflake”, but we exist and we LIKE LOOKING CUTE! Fashion has been a huge part of my self discovery and I’m so glad to be able to involve my art with my job. It’s always been a goal of mine to inspire people and hearing people say things like “I wear what I want because of you” and “I thought I was too dark for this” or “I finally felt confident in these clothes” is the reason why I do this. I’m getting teary eyed just typing this, lol💕 😭
I finally started getting really into j-fashion once I moved to America! I discovered secondhand sales, my local lolita community, and anime conventions an sstarted really learning how to get involved with the community! Honestly, I started spending a bunch of money on brands like Angelic Pretty because I didn’t know what else could fit me and I wanted the respect that big brands brought.
Around this time was when I started really discovering how hard it is to wear Japanese fashion as someone who is Black and plus sized. I did a couple things to help out with this issue, like becoming a representative for Black Girls Are Kawaii and trying to become a blogger to fill that gap. Eventually I just got fed up and made my own clothes! Soon enough, I started selling them, starting Ota-Q💖✨
That’s why I’m so excited to continue this goal by founding Kei Club with Kit! We’ve worked super hard to involve fellow artists and small businesses to show our love for the community and intertwine it even more. This project isn’t about us, its about you! We want to spread the word about your experiences, tips, concerns, creations, and so much more. I can’t wait to see where the project will go and get to know y’all even more💕
It’s nice to meet you, Kei Club!
Images courtesy of Courtney Skinner.