Harajuku Mum Laura on Lolita, Design and Motherhood
Shopping is the pinnacle of any mother-daughter bonding experience but when your mum is a Sweet Lolita and graphic designer, shopping takes on a whole new meaning. Laura, aka @bububun, lives in Japan with her adorable baby daughter, Lilith. How does Laura remain unphased by street fashion opinions like, “You’re a mum now, you can’t wear Lolita!” How has her style fared as her life changes? With the most kawaii baby in tow, Laura is breaking all the “rules” because mother knows best, of course.
Please introduce yourself.
Hello! My name is Laura and I’m a designer, kawaii fashion enthusiast, and new mama living in Tokyo, Japan.
How did you get into Lolita fashion?
I first got interested in Japanese culture from watching Sailor Moon in the 90s. I remember getting into Japanese music and fashion through that, and then in 2001 a friend gifted me the FRUiTS book. I remember scouring eBay for Hysteric Glamour and Super Lovers items when I was in high school desperately trying to get my hands on j-fashion items.
Why did you move to Japan?
I moved to Japan when I was offered a job at Rakuten in 2017. Although I’d wanted to experience living in Japan for as long as I could remember, it was a tough choice since I left a great job and a team that I loved back in the US. It was a little difficult to adjust to work life in Japan, but I think I was able to face a lot of new challenges that helped me grow in my career.
Please introduce your baby!
My daughter is called Lilith. She’s quite the handful these days but it’s exciting to see her learn new things every day!
How have you adjusted to motherhood in Japan?
It took me longer than I would have liked, but I feel like I’ve gotten the hang of it. Having a baby in Japan as a foreigner was hard due to all the bureaucracy. Within the first months of her being born, we had to make multiple trips to the ward office, immigration, and the embassy to file all the necessary paperwork. Other than that, I think being a mother in Japan seems easier than elsewhere. When we go out, there are always cute and clean baby rooms for when she needs to eat or we just need a break. There are even cute vegan restaurants that are baby-friendly nearby!
Tell us about your experiences staying true to your kawaii style while being a good mother.
I think I’m still figuring it out. Lilith is my little mini-me and we are together the majority of the time, so it’s been fun to dress up together. I will see how it goes as she gets older and starts forming her own opinions and hobbies! For the most part, when we go out together, I always prioritize outfit choices that will make taking care of her easier. Things like long skirts or pants so that I don’t have to worry about the baby carrier making things ride up. Comfortable/practical shoes since we walk everywhere and I don’t want to risk slipping or falling while I’m holding her. I’ve found myself reaching more often for casual looks since Lilith is still at the age where she is quite messy and grabby.
Which brands do you dress Lilith in?
Gelato Pique, Petit Main, Miki House, Uniqlo, and Baby Pink House (now defunct though, so I try to grab used items whenever I can!)
What do you hope she’ll take from your personal style when she’s older?
I don’t want to subject her to any expectations or pressure as she’s growing up. It would be fun if she likes to dress up with me, but I hope at the very least what she takes away is that she shouldn’t hold herself back when it comes to pursuing what she enjoys (be it fashion or anything else!)
What are the positive aspects of sharing your Lilith’s cute moments online?
Being a new mom living abroad during a pandemic has been pretty isolating, so sharing about Lilith has helped me meet and connect with other moms going through the same things as me. I love connecting with other j-fashion mamas and being able to get advice and support virtually.
Tell us about your design work.
I have been doing UI/UX design for about 10 years now and I have been doing freelance graphic design since even earlier. I started out being more focused on user interface design, and I discovered my love of UX research while I worked for a start-up in Portland. My work centers around things you might not typically think of when you hear “designer”. In addition to interface design, I do discovery research, information architecture, wireframing, prototyping, user interviews, and usability sessions. These things all require creative problem solving and being able to illustrate and communicate ideas.
On the side, I do like to work on more kawaii projects. It’s on hiatus currently, but a couple years ago I started my own enamel pin shop where I sold my original designs.
How do you juggle it with raising a daughter?
Luckily, I don’t have to worry about juggling it yet since I’m still on childcare leave. Once I return to work, I know it will be difficult being away from her, so I’m trying to make the most of the rest of my time off.
What advice would you give to soon-to-be mothers in the community?
Being a new mom can be hard, so be kind to yourself. Give yourself time to adjust to your new role and don’t worry about rushing back into hobbies. They will still be there when you feel ready to return to them!
Any last words?
Before I had Lilith, I wasn’t sure how accepting the community would be of baby content. But I was pleasantly surprised at how much support I received! I’ve learned that I don’t have to change my identity after having a baby, I just get to add a new part to it.
Introduction and questions by Ash.
Images courtesy of Laura.