March 2023 - Working 10 months remotely in Tokyo

March 2023 - Working 10 months remotely in Tokyo!

I hope anyone reading this is doing well. It is a little gloomy in Tokyo today, but nothing compared to the storms that the Bay Area has experienced recently. I hope there is not too much damage on your properties and that if there is there will be a quick repair.  Such events make me think - anything can happen at any time, and we can only control the present and be grateful for what we do have!

I turn around and it’s almost been a year since I moved to Tokyo in May of 2022.  The first 3 months were a whirlwind of acclimating to life in Tokyo, learning Japanese, and surviving a busy 2022 wedding season (and the first one working remote!).  2023 season is turning out to be a little different in many ways.  For starters, we are in an economic recession, and naturally, most people may want to prioritize saving up for a rainy day than spend on their dream wedding. Having been in business for 14 yrs, there will always be crazy busy years, and much slower years, as part of the ebb and flow of having your own business. Maybe vendors don’t want to talk about this publically, because all vendors want to be perceived as being highly sought-after and in-demand, whether we are in a recession or not, but I’m a realist and pragmatist, and artists and craftsman (which is what hair/makeup artists are) know that the world may change (ie recession, weather / pandemic / other natural disasters), what clients may want may change (trends, tastes, etc), and - there’s always the threat of having our jobs replaced by AI/Technology (See Article about how Levi’s experimenting with AI Models on the SF Chronicle). Sorry to get off on a slightly gloomy topic, but I feel like not discussing this would feel a bit..inauthentic. This is what’s happening, and both clients and vendors can be concerned about these events.

As for myself, because it will take me a few years to be fluent in Japanese, I will most likely not be able to work as a session makeup & hair artist in Tokyo for a bit, and outside of doing the back-end side of things, (ie: responding to inquiries, chatting with potential clients, managing bookings for Skyla Arts) I’ve been learning Japanese and began making videos on youtube :) Since I am not performing the makeup/hair portion of the job, this is now my part-time job, and I only get paid if there’s a booking, and of course, with that comes a significant pay cut, it was a bit of an adjustment I had to go through when I received my 2022 P&L back from my accountant, so I continued to adjust my lifestyle accordingly. If I’m being honest, of course I miss my old income working full-time in the industry and the financial freedom it comes with. And most of all, I miss connecting with my clients and being a part of their wedding day or special events.  But I am tremendously proud of the current roster that I have: Camille, Jerilyn, Rebecca & Joey and I will continue to introduce them to new inquirers :) :) :)

One of the first videos I uploaded was about My Intentions for 2023 - and one of them was: Having more fun / spending more money.  

I know right - having more fun & spending more money on a recession, with a part-time income?  By all means, here is the disclaimer that I’m not sharing this to ask you to spend more money and hire us for your wedding if you are in a saving mode!  I am sharing something deeply personal because I want my potential clients and inquirers to know that when I say “I respect your budget” I really respect your budget!  There are people who think discussing money is so crass.  But let’s be honest, we live in a world where we have to pay bills, and vendors/craftsmen/professionals as well as people in the service & hospitality business - we are still running a business. When a potential client asks me how I decide on the rates, I am also equally price transparent - I will break it down in great detail and provide the reason for it. There will always be newer vendors who may start at a lower price point, or vendors willing to negotiate rates because they need to pay their bills - there is no judgment.

In the past, I’ve been fairly conservative with my money.  Outside of necessary things, the splurges that my husband and I have spent on, we only spend within our means and within the ‘fun’ budget.  Not digging into the savings and investments, and even then, I am still on the conservative side with investments per my upbringing and social conditioning. 

To challenge myself and to exit my comfort zone, I signed up for 2 splurge trips this year: Kyoto (I’m leaving tomorrow!) for 6 days, and Jerusulem + Santorini for 6 days (wish this trip was longer, but couldn’t due to my husband’s work schedule).  My friend from California is the one who invited me to Kyoto, and at first I thought: “I can’t go it is too expensive” because I have always been a  ‘saving for a rainy day’ mentality for so long; I should instead focus on: 

  • I can make it work
  • I can earn the money back
  • I deserve to go on these trips - I want to spend quality time with my friend, see Kyoto for the first time, and see my nephew have his Bar Mitzvah at the Western Wall and be a part of his big day.
  • My value and worth are not tied to how much money I bring in each month.

I start to put myself in the vendor’s shoes - I am supporting a business, I am contributing back to society by spending money.  Very soon after I officially signed up for the Kyoto trip, I also received a referral to work 2 days as a hair & makeup artist - guess what - that job paid for the fancy Kyoto hotel we’ll be staying at.  I didn’t even create end up with a gap in my savings from this splurge…!  Anyway :) That is enough about my personal finances, but I hope anyone reading this is comforted that if the recession has got you, don’t worry - the more money you spend, or the more positive energy you put out, it will come around!  

All this is to say, I was thrilled to see Phillip Alan Films share the Instagram reel of the fantastic & beautiful microwedding I worked on back in 2018, before microweddings were trending due to the pandemic!  The clients flew in from China, and they provided an amazing experience for their closest friends & family.  Perhaps it is still possible to have your dream wedding, but maybe on a different scale!

I also love this event because my friend & colleague Carrie Aldous was booked that day and had referred me to Tan Weddings & Events / the lovely couple, and my friend & colleague Maria Calderon came to help me style the moms. I am grateful to have such an amazing makeup & hair artist community and also, because they had booked The Full Day package, I got to spend more time with the vendor team that day! 

Thank you for the amazing memories! 

Jennifer Clap Photography, Tan Weddings & EventsHarvest Inn, The Pollen Mill, BBJ La Tavola Linen, BatterUp Cakery, Tin Roof Farm HouseDebora Events

You can watch the video and the gallery below, as well as see the Style Me Pretty Publication Here!