While on our last trip to Japan, we had the pleasure of meeting with another wonderful blogger Ellen Kamingagkura, creator of The Universe and You. In her lifestyle and fashion blog, she details her fashion style through her travels around Japan. We were so excited to meet up with her and chat about her travels, fashion, and much more. Enjoy our little interview with the lovely Ellen! Happy reading! Let us start off with the typical, but most popular question (because we all want to know!): When and how did it all begin? Were there any inspirations or motivations in the makings of The Universe and You?
E : When I was studying Fashion Design in Brazil, fashion blogs were just starting get some attention internationally. In Brazil, it was all very new, and there were only a few fashion blogs. I remember that Sea of Shoes was the first Fashion Blog I lay my eyes on, and I was simply mesmerized about it. Loved every photo and her style was so unique, something I have never seen in Brazil. When I quit Fashion Design to move to Japan in 2011, I wanted to maintain that creative process I had back in college. My firsts blog posts were about Fashion Show reviews, Runaway Trends, but when I moved to Japan, time to blog was super short, I didn't have the same amount of time to work on that kind of posts. So when we bought a semi-professional camera, we started to shoot a lot around here, and because I was always in the photos, my personal style got more attention on the blog. So we focused on posting these photos, and that's how our blog turned into a Personal style and lifestyle blog with a focus on Japan.
Our team had the privilege of working with you on our recent trip to Japan. You mention to our team you are not a native of Japan. Was there a cultural shock moving to Japan? What inspired you to move there?
E : It was certainly shocking for us, but in a good way. I believe that my husband and I have a gypsy soul, we always move when things are simply not working for us. (Can I just add that since we got married 8 years ago, we moved around 8 times in Brazil and Japan. I know, it's crazy !)
Because my Grandparents who were both Japanese I've always been involved with Japan's culture and traditions. They only spoke Japanese, my grandfather used to play Taiko and my grandmother used to dance Odori (a traditional Japanese dance), she tough me a few moves and even dressed me in a Kimono once. And my husband has always been a fan of everything that came from Japan, he even used to hang out in the Japanese community in Brazil before we met. So coming to Japan was an obvious choice !
Take us on a typical day shooting with you? What are some important aspects you have to plan out before even taking a photo?
E : Most of our photoshoots are walkabouts, which means that we don't plan them. We shoot while we are walking from one neighborhood to another in Tokyo. When we have a collaboration post, we decided the look we want for the photos, then we choose the place and time that fits with the outfit and the concept of the editorial.
Fashion blogs are strongly based on the creative and delightful photos bloggers shoot. One very important aspect for a fashion blogger is choosing a compatible photographer. How did you choose your photographer?
E : My husband is a Graphic designer and he's also the photographer of the blog. We have been together for 10 years, and we also have great chemistry during our photo shoots, so working with him goes very smoothly and naturally for me.
The lifestyle of a fashion blogger comes with great responsibilities such as being admired as an inspiration or role model to fellow friends and followers around the globe. Do you have any personal inspirations or fashion bloggers you look up to? If so, can you name few and why?
E : I love Gary Pepper, Nicole's style is just so on point and her photos are simply stunning. I also love Cupcakes and Cashmere, and A Beautiful Mess (I'm crazy for DIY's, I'm always updating my home decor).
Japan is known for its eccentric and bold fashion. How has living in Japan influenced your fashion, if at all?
E : Living in Japan completely changed me, I don't even recognized me on the photos before moved to Japan. It's insane, but it's so true. Japan is an amazing country for Fashion lovers, you're completely free to wear anything (and I mean anything) you want. For me, it was a process of experimenting, and trying new styles until I found my own. The best part during the experimental phase was not having people staring at me, because in Brazil people tend to be very judgmental.
People tend to grow a liking towards certain accessories and fashion pieces. Whether it be rings, maxi skirts, heels, or dresses, what is your favorite type of accessory or clothing piece, and how does it play a role in your glamorous looks?
E : Every season I favor a different piece of clothing and accessory, but I never leave home without a watch and sunnies. They are a must for me !
Fashion blogging certainly takes a lot of devotion, thought, and time. Has it in any way affected your career? Has it lead you in a new direction in life?
E : Blogging changed me in so many ways that it's hard to explain it, however through blogging I've met so many incredible people and I've learned a lot about my own self while doing it. Every new collaboration means a lot of personal and professional growth, and that has been leading me to new opportunities.
Here's a fun question that'll get us to know you better!: What is your favorite color, movie, book, food/drink, and place to be (if any)?
E : I love these kind of questions ! My favorite color is Red, my favorite movie is Big Fish (lots of tears here). My favorite cuisine is Italian and Japanese (of course), and give me chocolate and I'll be your best friend. I love to hang out in patisseries and Cafés, Japan has lots of them and I want to list them all in a post in the future.
Lastly, what do you feel is your biggest accomplishment?
E : I don't feel that I've had a big accomplishment yet. My last collaborations with GAP and Free People were an amazing and rewarding experience for me, but I think that will only feel that I've had a big accomplishment when I do what I love full time which is blogging.
Thank you to the lovely Ellen for showing us her neck of the woods and taking the time to hang with ZeroUV on our trip! We had such a wonderful time and can't wait to visit again. Until next time!