|Waiting outside to meet Akira!|
When it comes to my blog, I would like to keep that feeling, and also use it as my day to write about events that passed- after all, I missed coverage of many events when I took a hiatus from my blog, last year!
For today's reflection, I would like to share my experience at Kawaiikon last year, 2015. I ran two panels at this Kawaiikon: An informative J-fashion panel on Shironuri, as well as an independent fashion show for my own aspiring Lolita brand, Darkly Darling.
The convention began on a hectic note, and did not set a good tone for the rest of the weekend. We rushed to our hotel with our room mates as soon as I got home from work, Friday. I knew that the next morning, I would have to wake up at 4am to rush to the windward side of Oahu, in order to run an event for work, so I was already in a stressed-out mood.
The next morning went exactly as you'd expect, trying desperately not to awake my husband and room mates as I got ready for work. I knew that as soon as I left work, I'd have to rush in order to make the Akira tea party, so I did everything I could before hand- I even applied most of my Lolita makeup, including contacts, at 4 am.
I was very tired at work, and felt silly in such extreme makeup. On top of that, it was raining on the windward side, like it always does, so my false lashes were starting to come off and my hair was a wreck!
Finally, when the event started to wind down, I was allowed to leave- only to run head-on into horrible traffic trying to get into town! I had paid a lot of extra money in order to attend the Akira tea party, and was scared I wouldn't make it at all.
I finally made it back to my hotel room, with barely thirty minutes to spare. I threw on my outfit and wig, and ran across the street to the convention center. I looked barely put together, incredibly tired, and most of my foundation had worn away already, but I was just happy to make it to the tea party.
At least the tea party was a pleasure! Akira sat at each table, making pleasant conversation and making everyone smile. She even noticed that not everyone could reach the food in the middle of the tables, so she helped to serve girls who were far away or had bell sleeves and couldn't reach! We played games too, and many of us got to take selfies with Akira.
At the end of the teaparty, she gave out autographed photos, cheki, and small pieces of sakura incense to each guest. I was walking on clouds, I was so happy that I actually made it.
But come Saturday evening, I cloud-walked right back into another rough patch.
I was scheduled to host a Shironuri panel, which I had been spending all of my free-time on for months! I put hours of work into the presentation, spending my lunch breaks at work working on it, and staying late after work to wait out traffic working on it. But it was late at night for a panel, almost midnight; and a rather obscure topic at that, so I was expecting barely a couple of friends to show up. I wasn't that worried.
So I was shocked to see so many people in attendance!
I had everything set to go- a detailed power-point on the history of Shironuri, different sub-styles of it and related media, and pictures donated from Shironuri practitioners around the world.
As part of my day job, I did presentations for a living; I had also organized events in these convention rooms the year before. That being said, I wasn't expecting any surprises with the presentation, or the technology. So of course, I was mortified to set up my laptop, and found that my entire Powerpoint was corrupted!! I couldn't even open it, from my laptop or my external hard drive!
I had my crack tech friend come up and help me, trying to retrieve or backup the Powerpoint, but nothing was working.
I was absolutely panicked, since I also had a room full of people in front of me, expecting a presentation. I picked up the microphone, and explained what had happened- I also told the guests that since Shironuri is such a visual and abstract style, it would be really difficult to explain without the accompanying images. I decided to call off the panel.
A lot of the attendees were rather angry, and asked, why don't I just pull up some pictures and talk about it? I was already about to cry, and the frustrated voices were making me panic more. I told them I had a very detailed history and lots of notes in my presentation, and it would be hard to do without it. Not to mention, the convention center did not have free Wifi, so just googling images and pulling up different blogs would have been another hurdle! But I didn't mention that.
Of course, I was sick to my stomach after this had happened. I basically apologized, and walked off stage. A few of my friends comforted me as people started to leave.
At least as people were trickling out, a mother and daughter came up to me and said they wanted to thank me for hosting a fashion-related late night panel. They said that there is usually not a lot of family-friendly content offered later at night, and the fashion was interesting, so they were looking forward to it.
They asked about the makeup I use, so I took out my supplies and showed them the basics of applying a white foundation, and setting it. By then, a small crowd had formed, and I was very comfortable just talking with them on the side.
If I could re-do that night, I would have checked my presentation earlier in my hotel room. (I would have taken a nap in the room, too!) Given, it had been a very long day for me, but even so, I should have been more professional about my panel and double-checked the presentation.
Even if I had checked it, and it had been corrupted, I would have had time to whip up something, or contact the panel coordinator so the guests wouldn't have been so upset.
Or even if I hadn't done all that- I wish I had the bravery to stand up on stage and just talk about the fashion I loved! I was dressed in it, make up done and all- why was I so upset, that I couldn't just wing it?
After all, giving presentations was part of what I did for a living. But I think it is different, when you give the same presentation every day for your job, instead of one long, intense presentation about something you love. But even so, I wish I could re-do that panel.
Hopefully, at another convention in the future, I could take a crack at this panel again. I learned a lot from that night, and feel like I could do an even better presentation this time around!
When I had that smaller crowd watching me demonstrate makeup application, I told them about my fashion show panel the next day- where I would be showing fashions for my aspiring Lolita brand, Darkly Darling. I told them which conference room it was in, and the time, and they all said they would come!
The next morning, unfortunately, was off to a rough start as well. (I couldn't catch a break at all!) I had a bad feeling since the Shironuri panel last night, and on top of that, one of my models called out sick. I got to the convention center, only to find that neither my hair nor makeup artists had showed up! I called and called and called them, and messaged them on Facebook, with no response.
Panicked again, I called my husband and asked him to bring over all of my wigs and makeup from the hotel room. I was going to make this work, no matter what. Not only did I dress my models, set up my audio equipment, and do a sound check with staff- I also did all of their hair and makeup, in about an hour!
There were still issues- my boy style model couldn't have his hair done, since I was counting on a hair stylist to work with his long, red hair. I also forgot to grab pants and accessories for him, in my hurry to get all of my outfits and do makeup. With models who didn't show up, I had to rearrange and re-prioritize my looks, which clashed with what some models brought to wear.
However, at that point in the final minutes before the show, doing a quick walk-through, I was just happy to have mostly everyone there, dressed, and ready to go.
I received a text from the event coordinator saying, "I don't want to make you nervous- but you have a line outside the conference room!" One of my friends came in and said the line was really long. I couldn't believe it!
I texted the coordinator the okay, saying we were ready and the doors could be opened. I waited back stage, watching the room fill to near capacity- and looked with awe and gratitude at my models.
The music started, and the show began!
Even Deadpools were watching on in the audience.
After the show, we received a round of applause! We stayed on stage for a very long Q&A, with all kinds of questions from the audience! I had my models stay on stage too, so they could be part of the Q&A.
Overall, it was a very long, stressful weekend, which taught me anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. But it also taught me to rely on myself, and not rely too heavily on others. Though of course, there are many wonderful people out there, like my models, not everyone is reliable.
It also taught me responsibility. I should have had the foresight to check my presentation in the hours before the panel. If I had noticed sooner, that the entire presentation was inaccessible, it might have been easier to minimize damage or come up with something on the spot.
Last but not least, that weekend taught me to look for silver linings. The world was all but falling apart, when I stood up on stage by myself and announced that I couldn't do the Shironuri panel. But when I spoke with the mother and daughter about the makeup after, they were so kind and supportive, and interested in what I had to say, so I feel like I can try that panel again in the future.
And yes, I did have to work, and dash around the island desperately in order to juggle work and my passions- but I still got to meet one of my idols, Akira.
And sure, I had models and makeup and hair artists become no-shows: but instead of panicking like the night before, I worked with the wonderful people who did come, and we used everything at our disposal to deliver a show.
I had done smaller fashion shows at bars before, where people didn't really understand or appreciate Lolita- but I think I am most proud of the Kawaiikon Fashion Show. If I could choose a benchmark from where I really started to grow and understand, it was that show. I count it as my first real fashion show!
All in all, Kawaiikon 2015 was more stress for me than anything. Much of it had to do with overbooking myself, especially since I had to work all morning on Saturday. It taught me a lot though, and helped me grow as a person. After this, I had a bit of a hiatus from sewing, and being involved in the event circuit. But now in 2016, I feel ready to move forward again, and strive to be even better!
Just remember, readers, if you ever encounter something similar, there is nothing you cannot handle; and even if you think you cannot fix it, there is always plenty to be learned. I hope that sharing this experience either helps you in the future, or maybe you've gone through something similar!
I'd actually love to know if you've ever had a Con Catastrophe like this, and what you did to handle it. Feel free to let me know in the comments- which should be much easier to use, since I switched back to the Blogger commenting system!