How To Wear Prints in the Office

Fashion can be tricky when it comes to balancing personal style with professionalism, especially in the office. Naturally, we have a tendency to stay away from bold prints and colors and our hands reach towards chic, timeless classics like solid navy or black suits. But what if there was a way to add prints and patterns without taking away from the sleek professionalism that is necessary for workwear? With the season of layering upon us, it is the perfect time to take risks by incorporating daring prints! Today we’ll explore a few ways to include printed pieces into your everyday office wardrobe including special items from our newly arrived Autumn-Winter Collection!

Simple and Sleek

For those just beginning their journey of wearing prints and patterns, we recommend starting subtle by still keeping the base of your outfit a classic, professional color such as black or navy. Add a pop of print to serve as the focal point of your look while keeping the rest sleek and cohesive.

To simplify your morning routine, we recommend choosing from our stunning collection of docking dresses, which gives you instant work-ready perfection in 30 seconds. These 2-in-1 dresses relieve the need to coordinate a top with a skirt while still providing the look of one. And they’re the perfect item for those who want to add a splash of pattern to their wardrobe staple. With our incredible range of prints to choose from, you can still add color to your everyday work style without compromising style, ease or comfort!

The Leopard x Black Frill Dress is a gorgeous docking dress from our newest collection, where soft leopard-print chiffon is met with a sleek, shape-supporting black skirt. The black used in the elegant leopard print also ties with the skirt harmoniously. This dress can be paired with your favorite black cardigan for casual days in the office. For days that require an extra chic finish, pair the dress with its matching Smart Stretch Jacket!

Down to Earth

Another way to make a printed pattern appear more mild and muted is by pairing the item with earthy, neutral tones such as brown, gray, or beige. This not only softens the colorway of the outfit, but by incorporating muted accents the bold print is neutralized with earthy elegance.

For example, the Navy Ray Flower Tucked Top pairs gorgeously under a chic black or navy suit, but by opting for milky colors such as greige or beige the look is softened gracefully. This top can be paired with either a skirt or trousers and the colorway of the print opens endless possibilities for coordinating!

Go for Bold

For those who are up for the challenge, we recommend taking a risk and dressing in a fully patterned dress! Although this may seem intimidating at first to wear to the office, with just one extra piece you can feel confident wearing a printed dresses for your go-to work look! Especially for those with plans after work who don’t want the hassle to go home and get changed or show up in something boring, this simple option can let you have your cake and eat it too.

It all comes down to choosing the right layer with the right design – a long knit cardigan! Our range of Kanazawa Side-slit Cardigans are made for just that – cutting just above the knee with its relaxed silhouette and flowy knit, they balance out dynamic patterns and colors and provide the perfect coverage over any daring dress. Since they are machine-washable nor do they lose their shape either, you can have an elegant and cozy office style with them (print or no print) each day of the week – the possibilities are endless.

Whether you are looking to subtly add printed patterns to your usual work wardrobe, or looking to express your personality through fun and daring prints, stepping up to the challenge of your own personal comfort is an amazing accomplishment of its own! Here at kay me we strive to support women through their challenges, big and small, by providing premium quality clothing that are chic, comfortable, and easy-care. So you can focus on enjoying the challenge of finding the perfect prints that fit your lifestyle, without compromising stress-free comfort! To discover your new favorite workwear print, have a look at our latest collection featuring elegant leopard, timeless tartan, chic ray flowers, and more! Visit our online store to view our gorgeous selection of originally designed prints and patterns, with free global shipping for all orders!

Adjusting to New Pandemic Work Routines and Changing Seasons in Japan

With the warm temperatures of summer fleeting, this marks the second year of Japan’s COVID-present autumn just around the corner. Nearly a year and a half later, the effects of the pandemic on work life in Japan are still prevalent but surely recovering. In the beginning, many companies opted for strict teleworking to lessen the chances of contraction during transportation as well as in the office. Compared to the prior year however, we can observe positive changes such as the 26% full-time teleworking rate dropping to 8% (Mitsubishi Estate Co., Ltd.). This means that many people have begun to slowly transition back into their offices with the utmost caution by implementing time-adjusted work hours as well as flex work hours.

Like teleworking, time-adjusted work hours and flex hours in Japan allow people to have more control over their work schedule. Time-adjusted work hours are where employee schedules are separated so their beginning time and ending times are spaced apart to avoid overcrowding. For example, some people may begin their workday from 7:00-15:00, whereas others may begin their workday from 11:00-19:00. In both cases, the employee still follows the typical 9-to-5 workday. On the other hand, flex hours work in a similar way where the company has ‘core hours’ where all employees must be present, and the rest of the hours are scheduled freely as long as they total 40 hours per week.

With the adjusted work hours as well as the changing of seasons the question that arises is how to dress properly for in-office days that are not quite cold enough for heavyweight fibers, but not warm enough for lightweight fibers? Workwear can be tricky during the transitions of seasons, especially in autumn as the mornings and nights are exponentially colder than the daytime. With the newly implemented work style, the temperature difference can be even more extreme than before. Today, we will explore three easy ways to effortlessly transition your summer wardrobe into cozy autumn wear.

Coming back into the office, one stressor people may remember is how many of us cannot change the office thermostat settings. Often times, offices are notorious for being chilly in order to prevent computers and other electronics from overheating, especially during transitioning seasons where it is warm during the day. One way of comfortably transitioning your summer wardrobe for the fall is switching from a light underdress to something more heat-retaining to stay cozy even in a dress around the office. kay me Warm Underdresses are light and breathable, yet heat-retaining. For transitioning months, we recommend the camisole underdress, which can be worn under any of your favorite kay me dresses without worrying about the design being disrupted.

With the rise of time-adjusted work hours, many people opt to leave their house either earlier or later than the rush hour. As an incentive, railway companies such as JR have begun implementing a point system for people who commute during these ‘off-peak’ times. These collected points can be used to pay for items and services within the station malls, or exchanged online for items. For those who leave early, they are met with colder temperatures going to work and warmer weather when leaving from work. Those who leave later in the day are in the opposite situation. As a solution of being exposed to polar opposite temperatures during the workday, an option would be layering with knitted items such as cardigans and knits. Not only will this option provide extra warmth whenever needed, but the look of knit adds an instant look of coziness to any outfit! By choosing rich colors such as bordeaux and mustard, any simple dress can transform into the perfect autumn look. Try our comfortable and soft Kanazawa-knit Crewneck Cardigans available in gorgeous autumn colors such as Mustard and Gray Melange.

For those constantly on the go in and out of the office, sometimes carrying an extra layer like a cardigan or jacket may not be the most convenient. Especially when traveling on foot, the body naturally heats up and the extra layer brought for warmth just becomes a nuisance to carry. In those cases, we suggest wearing materials that can assist in regulating the body temperature for constant, optimal comfort. This dream-like material, called Outlast, has actually been developed for NASA in order to maintain a comfortable temperature even in space. This thermally adaptive material absorbs, stores, and releases heat for optimal comfort. At kay me, we have taken this technologically advanced material and have created a stunning suit collection, perfect for autumn! The Soy Milk x Pinstripe Docking Tuck Dress is a gorgeous piece that features a feminine top complete with delicate tuck detailing at the bustline and ¾ sleeves. The skirt is made from Outlast material that provides soft shape support and warmth when needed. The combination of the two creates a breathtaking ensemble-like dress which can also be paired with its matching jacket to instantly transform the outfit into a suit!

With the new normal of work life in Japan evolving constantly through COVID-19, adapting to and overcoming frequent changes has been a challenge in itself. The last thing that you want on your mind is worrying about how to stay comfortably warm or cool throughout your day as you return to the office. In retrospect, many women have taken the opportunity that teleworking and adjusted work hours have created by indulging in improving their skillsets. According to Paranavi, since the State of Emergency was announced last year, an average of 40% of women displayed an interest in improving their skills for their careers, and 32% of them have used their free time to advance their skills. This incredible statistic holds much hope for the future of women as they still face their challenges no matter what the environment is around them.

At kay me we wish to continue supporting women through these challenges by providing luxurious comfort and providing solutions to all stressors caused by clothing. All our fully machine-washable pieces are stretchy and ethically made in Japan and we offer free global shipping as standard too! Visit us here.

A Sweet Taste of Autumn in Japan: A Historic Guide to Traditional Japanese Autumn Treats

As the days become shorter and the weather begins to cool, autumn arrives in a parade of deep, earthy colors such as crimson, violet, and mustard. The challenging humidity of summer subsides and the crisp, cool air of autumn invites many Japanese residents to enjoy enriching activities such as reading, painting, hiking, and enjoying delicious, hearty dishes made with seasonal ingredients. Though foods such as fresh grilled pacific saury and soul-warming hot pots gain lots of traction, something you cannot miss are the decadent traditional sweets, or wa-gashi, that can be enjoyed especially during this season. Depending on where in Japan you are, these sweets can vary widely, which makes for the perfect gift for a loved one when traveling to these locations! Today we’ll explore a few traditional sweets popular in different Japanese regions during the autumn season, and their unique history!

Kanto 揚げまんじゅう

Image credits: Age-manju from Asakusa Kokonoe


Our first location is the Kanto region, most popular for its cities such as Tokyo and Yokohama. Though there are a plethora of traditional sweets that have their roots here, one of the most popular is the age-manju, which is a deep-fried manju! The chef takes a manju, a small pastry cake filled traditionally with a red bean paste, and lightly coats it in batter before they fry it to a crispy golden brown color. The history of the age-manju dates back to over 100 years ago when people would place manjus as offerings inside of Buddhist altars. After some time, the manju would harden and dry out. Rather than wasting the food, people began to deep fry the manju to reheat the interior and to give it a crispy exterior for a pleasant snack.

 After over 100 years, the age-manju is enjoyed as its own specific treat, now available in a variety of flavors.Both the filling and outer batter options can vary vastly, especially during the autumn time! A few of our favorites are the red bean paste with chopped chestnut, as well as the sweet potato paste with matcha batter. Age-manju can be found in almost any gourmet-centered locations around Tokyo, such as Asakusa and Ueno, where the manju is deep-fried right in front of your eyes. For an elevated experience, we recommend trying the age-manju from the Kikunoya Flagship Store, located in Ginza. Macadamia nuts are sprinkled on top of the manju before it is deep fried to perfection using premium quality oil for a satisfying crunch. Why not enjoy this treat after visiting our flagship store as well, which is only a short 3-minute stroll away!

Kansai ぜんざい

Another epicenter of traditional Japanese sweets is the Kansai region, especially in Kyoto where they are most famous for their deep, robust Uji-matcha. Sweets in the Kansai region oftentimes are more simplistic and use less sugar to truly focus on bringing out the natural flavor of each ingredient. A hearty dessert popular in the colder months is the zenzai, a warm red bean soup accompanied by boiled or grilled mochi. The zenzai is said to have traveled from Izumo to the then-capital of Japan, Kyoto. This dish was served during Jinzaisai, or the Festival of the Visit of the Gods, a Shinto belief where all of the deities would travel to Izumo to gather once a year during the autumn months. During this festival, a special mochi, called Jinzai mochi, and beans would be offered to the dieties. Near the end of the festival, the mochi and beans were placed together in a pot to create a stew which was shared by the people of Izumo. Through the exchange of dialects, by the time the dish reached Kyoto it was known as ‘zenzai’. Limited to the autumn time, many tea houses in Kyoto that serve this dish add soft, roasted chestnuts, or even replace the red beans entirely with a chestnut paste to make a rich, creamy treat that is perfect for the colder months.

Kyoto, known for its gorgeous scenery, is even more breathtaking in the autumn with its abundant Japanese maple leaves that turn crimson red during this season. When visiting Kyoto in the fall be sure to partake in the Japanese tradition of ‘momiji-gari’, which directly translates to “Japanese maple leaf harvesting”. Despite its name, this tradition is simply the act of going outside to observe and admire the colorful leaves of autumn. We highly advise to keep in mind to dress comfortably as the best spots to partake in ‘momiji-gari’ are usually higher in the mountains. In true Kyoto fashion, these mountains have numerous tea houses for visitors to rest at and enjoy a warm cup of tea along with traditional wa-gashi, including zenzai of course!

For a comfortable, yet stylish look perfect for the chic atmosphere of Kyoto, we recommend our Ivory First Class Hoodie paired with our Taupe Relax Wide Trousers. Stay warm and active while you enjoy the mystic scenery of Kyoto without having to worry about feeling underdressed. Both the trousers and hoodie include pockets which can easily store your smartphone and smaller items, making them both the ideal travel partner!

Chubu もみじの衣揚げ

Our final destination is the Chubu Region, famous for the historic city of Nagoya, which is one of our most recent store locations!

Image credits: Ogura Toast by Visit Nagoya

Nagoya is most famous for their unique dessert that is quite simple and consists of three ingredients; toast, butter, and red bean paste. Known as ogura (red bean paste) toast, this dish is enjoyed both as a light snack or even as a breakfast food. Its history originates from the end of World War I where a quaint wa-gashi store was no longer able to purchase mochi rice due to the inflation quadrupling its prices. Simultaneously during this time, there was a ‘bread boom’, which meant an abundant amount of bread and butter were readily available, and for a discounted price. Taking this as an opportunity, the owner converted their wa-gashi store into a ‘kissaten’, or “tea-drinking shop”, which usually serves western-style food and drinks such as coffee and sandwiches, opposed to a traditional Japanese tea shop. The shop owner began serving buttered toast, which was a popular dish at that time. Shortly after, they noticed a trend of younger people ordering buttered toast with zenzai and dipping the bread into the sweet red bean stew. This was when the owner got the idea to incorporate the two dishes, creating the infamous ogura toast!

Speaking of momiji leaves of Kyoto, another Japanese treat is quite unique and perfect for ‘momiji-gari’ season, especially for those who may not be able to partake in the event. This must-try unique snack is deep-fried momiji leaves, perfect for the autumn season! To make these snacks, momiji leaves are harvested and pickled in salt a year prior to them being served. Then, they are deep-fried using a sweet, decadent batter to crispy perfection. This traditional snack is not only enjoyed by locals alongside a cup of warm green tea, but they make wonderfully unique and seasonal gifts! Why not pair the sweets with a warming item from kay me, such as the Peach Pink Silk Wool Cutwork Lace Scarf, for the ultimate autumn gift. The scarf is sure to keep the recipient warm as the colder months come up, and it leaves them with a special keepsake even after the sweets are eaten!

Whether going for a stroll around your local area or traveling for business, be sure to give traditional Japanese sweets a try, especially if they offer fresh seasonal options! Traditional Japanese sweets can be found practically anywhere from the snack aisle at convenience stores to high-end shops located within boutique districts, and don’t forget to share your favorite dishes with loved ones as souvenirs.

After stopping by for a quick sweet treat, be sure to complete your trip by visiting any of our 12 stores all across Japan! All of our store locations can be found here:

https://kayme.com/stores/

Three Summer Style Trends of 2021

With the last of Japan’s month-long rainy season behind, the warm and sunny days of summer welcome the country. Without having to worry about getting caught in sudden rainfall or walking through puddled streets, the freedom to wear whatever the heart wishes creates unique and vibrant trends in Japan. Today we have for you three of the most popular fashion trends in Japan this summer, that range from design, fabric, and color!

Extravagant Collars and Sleeves

The largest and most unique trend in Japan this summer are sleeve and collar-conscious designs. This trend often incorporates minimalistic designs paired with extravagant sleeves and/or collars that serve as the focal point of the outfit. Whether they are puff sleeves or frilly collars, subtle or avant-garde, the trend can be enjoyed in a spectrum of ways. By bringing attention to the sleeves and collar, it not only provides a frame around the face area, but it also assists to slim the faceline.

Sheer Materials

Another trend, perfect for warmer days, is the use of sheer fabric, such as fine mesh and chiffon. This not only adds a feminine charm to the look, but also keeps the body cool and dry from the humid summer days of Japan. Incorporate the two fashion trends with a timeless pattern, such as a sweet polka dots, for elevated elegance that is classic yet trendy. Try our Khaki Petit Dot Chiffon Frill Long Dress for the best of both worlds! The sheer sleeves feature tuck and gather details, while the cache-coeur neckline is met with luxurious frills that provides an elegant frame for the face.

Bright with Color

With the gloomy days on its way out the door, last summer’s trend of white, off-white, and light, neutral colors have begun to be replaced with bold, lively colors such as bubblegum pink, sunny yellow, and sky blue. These colors are often incorporated into outfits not only as accent colors but even as head-to-toe monotone coordinations for a daring yet playful look. For those looking for inspiration on how to incorporate these bold colors not too subtly and not too boldly, we recommend finding a print design that incorporates these summery colors.

An example is our Azure Peony Andalusia, which features a vibrant blue, reminiscent of the ocean waves you can view on a tropical vacation. This statement dress is just as functional as it is gorgeous. Lightweight and billowy, the wrap-style skirt holds its shape with every step taken while providing maximum movement.

For our bubblegum pink lovers or resort enthusiasts looking to make a striking impression this season, we recommend the Pink Caribbean Long Obi Dress. Featuring a gorgeous botanical print in vivid pink and our stretchy premium jersey for the ultimate ‘easy-to-lounge-in’ dress.

As we’ve explored a few new summer trends taking the streets of Japan by storm this season, the possibilities of incorporating and combining these trends is truly endless! Whether they broaden your horizons of fashion by getting you out of your comfort zone, or give you that extra boost of confidence when giving presentations to clients, we hope you can have fun curating your new summer looks. From taking a stroll through your neighborhood town, or having dinner with friends at an outdoor venue, the warm weather and high humidity is sure to follow. And will all kay me items, they are all machine-washable and hold their gorgeous shape and color even after several washes.

Explore all of our gorgeous options of dresses that are perfect for this summer here
https://kayme.com/bajg_summer_long/

Attending Weddings in Japan

Like many other countries, the most popular season for weddings in Japan is right around summer time, especially after tsuyu. From traditional Shinto wedding ceremonies, western-influenced “white weddings” (where the bride wears a white dress and the groom wears a white tuxedo), to a mixture of both, Japanese weddings vary greatly in style from couple to couple, which makes for an incredibly exciting experience to attend every chance you get!

To make sure you enjoy the most out of a wedding in Japan, we look into the etiquettes, things to watch out for and how weddings during the year of COVID has shifted.

Being Invited

Japanese weddings closely follow the same format of any other wedding with speeches, exchange of rings, delicious food, and even a cake-cutting ceremony. The invitation list is more intimate than western weddings, where usually only close friends, family, and bosses and coworkers are invited. These invitations are usually only for those invited and do not include a plus-one not only to cut costs, but to also keep the invitation within the bride and groom’s supervision. The after-party of the wedding is reserved only for the newlywed’s personal guest list, rather than the formal list of the initial wedding invitation, and oftentimes take place in smaller venues such as restaurants or Japanese pubs. As these events are exclusive, it is always seen as a great honor to receive invitations as it means that the newlyweds perceive you as a close friend. But being a guest at a Japanese wedding could also bring forth a number of responsibilities that many may find stressful.

Stressors of Japanese Weddings

According to MyNavi, the top three reasons Japanese people feel the most stressed for attending weddings are giving speeches, deciding how much to give for the wedding gift, and what to wear. The largest factor being speeches, over 80% of the surveyed people answered that they felt immense pressure to have to deliver a speech that would be captivating and entertaining. The second most stressful factor, deciding an appropriate amount to spend on the wedding gift, comes in at nearly 65%. Unlike other countries, Japanese weddings do not have gift registries or even a custom of gifting objects. Instead, it is customary for wedding attendees to gift the newlyweds money. This may seem like a wonderful way to cut time on shopping for gifts or worrying that the couple would not like their gift, but as a general value is not set, it can cause stress in deciding on an amount.

According to the Zexy 2020 Trend Report, the most popular amount to gift was 30,000-40,000yen from friends and coworkers (97.7%), and 50,000-100,000yen from employers and family (47.2%, 57.6%). As these gifts can be quite expensive, this is another reason why the invitation list is kept at an intimate level to not burden those who are not as close to the newlyweds. In return, each guest is given a gift when leaving the reception. In 2020, the most popular items that were given were gift catalogues as well as small snacks such as cookies and cakes. These gifts range from 5000-6000yen per guest, and totals up to 300,000-400,000yen in fees (Zexy). Gift catalogues are a popular return or ‘thank-you’ gift in Japan where a prepaid catalogue full of items ranging from specialty foods to home appliances are handed to the recipient where they can choose the desired item they’d like to receive. By opting for gift catalogues, the guests do not have to worry about carrying heavy items back home, especially if they plan to attend the after-party, and they can also choose the best gift for themselves.

The third stressor, deciding what to wear, is a conundrum almost 63% of people face. In Japan, it is not only acceptable but it is actually preferred for wedding guests to wear darker colors such as black and navy, whereas in western customs these colors are avoided. At Japanese weddings it is best to avoid bright or bold colors and prints as it may be distracting and could potentially take attention away from the newlyweds. For women, dresses in neutral colors that provide modest coverage both to the shoulders and down to the knees is preferred, as well as close-toed shoes. Some women also opt to wear a traditional kimono as well. Despite the intimate guest list, weddings in Japan are still treated with high formality, which is best attended in appropriate formal attire. As formal clothing can be uncomfortable, especially when worn for prolonged hours like a wedding, kay me dresses are the perfect solution as the stretchy material provides day-long comfort. A recommendation that we have for weddings is our classic Navy Gather Dress, which is made from a breathable triacetate blend fabric, perfect for the hot summer months! The cut of the dress is modest, yet chic and feminine, and photographs beautifully from any angle.

Pair the dress with our 29-Pocket Wallet Bag that can be transformed as a clutch and hold all of your wedding guest essentials (including business cards!). The bag is available in an array of colors, including champagne gold, which is a perfect way to add a subtle pop of color to your celebratory outfit! Transform the bag from a clutch to a crossbody when attending the after-party to keep your essential items close to you while keeping both of your hands free.

Weddings during COVID-19

With events in the past year being heavily affected by COVID-19, weddings in Japan have slightly shifted in order for guests to safely celebrate the newlywed couple. Some of these changes are of course the implementation of masks, hand sanitizers, and maintaining social distance, but also how guests attend the wedding. According to Cross Marketing, in a demographic of women aged 30-60 only 34.8% attended weddings in person during 2020. Instead, they opted for sending letters and packages to celebrate the newlyweds, had live calls during the wedding, or attended the wedding ceremony virtually. Interestingly, in the same demographic range of men, the physical attendance rate was 54%, and a way those who chose not to attend in-person included holding a celebration event virtually hosted on a gaming platform. These innovative solutions served, and continue to serve, as a safe and convenient way for people to still attend or celebrate the wedding. Not only has this new style of wedding attendance served its purpose during these trial times, but it has also allowed family members and friends who cannot normally attend these celebrations due to health, location, or any other complications, to join the celebration with a few clicks.

Although attending a wedding alone may seem intimidating at first, it serves as a perfect opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and to network with other guests who are most likely attending by themselves as well. There may be a number of stressful factors as a wedding guest, especially when you are in unfamiliar settings, but in Japan it is custom for weddings to have a set itinerary and tight-knit schedule that is sent to the guests prior to the wedding day to avoid any confusion and to answer questions guests may have. Slip on your favorite kay me outfit to feel confident, beautiful, and comfortable all day so you can just simply focus on enjoying the wedding and celebrating the embarkation of the couple’s new life together!

Make getting ready for your next special occasion fuss-free and easy with our latest selection of machine-washable, stretchy dresses.

Meet Catherine O’Connell, the “Lawpreneur” empowering women in law – Part 2

We met with busy trailblazer Catherine O’Connell, an entrepreneur, lawyer and leader to one of Tokyo’s leading networking group for supporting and empowering women, Women In Law Japan. In Part 1, we dove into her success becoming a “Lawpreneur” and learn what it takes to step up as a leader in the female community in Tokyo. Today, we get more personal and hear about the people and books which inspire Catherine and her points to dressing for business.

A role model in New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern

I got to meet her in person in Tokyo in September 2019 and also got to sit with her and talk all manner of things during a business luncheon meeting. How down to earth, smart and funny she is. I’ve loved seeing her be a role model for global leaders, for women, and for men.

I especially loved it when she said “One of the criticisms I’ve faced over the years is that I’m not aggressive enough or not assertive enough, or maybe somehow, because I’m empathetic, it means I’m weak. I totally rebel against that. I refuse to believe that you cannot be both compassionate and strong.”

This is the essence of true leadership. She said that following the terror attack in Christchurch in March 2019 and it has resonated with me ever since. If only I can be half the leader she is, I will double my current leadership energy in the community.

Finding inspiration in memoirs and women who challenge the status quo

I have just finished three amazing books. One is a New York Times Bestseller “Lead from the Outside” by Stacy Abrams and the other is a memoir by Karen Hill Anton called “The View from Breast Pocket Mountain”. I also just finished reading another incredibly amazing book called “More than Enough” by Elaine Welteroth, from which an inspiration for driving my “Lawyer on Air” Podcast comes.

She said: “there is so much wisdom locked up in the stories women never tell”. I’m doing what I can to tell those stories and amplify women’s voices in Japan.

Know your rhythm to make your schedule

A day in the life of Catherine O’Connell:

7:30 AM: I’m an early riser so I’m typically at my desk doing creative work for my business and always 20-30 minutes reading for pleasure or a chapter of a business-success book.

8:30 AM: I am on calls and in mastermind groups working on self-development. Usually around mid-morning, if it is a day that I am recording a podcast episode with one of my guests, I would jump online and do the recording, and work on the show notes and social media content with my podcast producer after that.

10:00 AM: By this time, I’ll be on my second coffee of the day (only 2 coffees/day) and I will be right into client calls or client work.

12:00PM: At this time, I turn off lights in my office and take a break including a walk outside. I prep all my lunches on a Sunday so lunches working @home are a breeze. There is nothing like preparation to set you up well for the week.

From 13:00PM: I tend to devote the afternoon to networking, introductions, pitch type calls with clients and potential clients and people I may build long term relationships with. Usually in the evening I have online meetings with organizations I’m involved in such as FEW Japan (a network of women empowering women in Tokyo) and some of the Chambers of Commerce. Before COVID-19 I was consistently out in the evenings networking, but I now (secretly!) relish being at home in the evenings and connecting with people online for fun or building relationships for business.

From January 2021, I adopted a “healthfirst, immunity-first” approach and intermittent fasting is part of my lifestyle now, so I will finish eating by 7:00 PM in the evening through around 1:00 PM next day. To me fasting is not a diet but a lifestyle and it provides me with great liberation, and freedom around having only two meals and the rest of the day for exercise, working, self-time and enjoyment.

Dressing as a sign of respect

I always aim to look stylish and put together for the day from the first call to the last.

How we dress is a mark of respect not only to ourselves but to the person we are meeting with or the event we are attending.

Nowadays, the shift to on-line has allowed people to be more casual in dress style. That is not wrong but it is not the style for me. I like to wear outfits that inspire confidence and professionalism with whomever I am engaging with.

Tip 1: Make it “Stylish”

When I say “stylish”, it isn’t something over the top or the latest fashion trend, but more of a preference for classic designs. I tend to go for separates and love dresses to emit my feminine personality. I usually choose one or two bold colors (blue, red, yellow, orange, pink, green, silver, gold or rose gold) to set off a traditional black and navy core garment.

Tip 2: Accessories make the perfect conversation starter

On my travels overseas I have always looked for interesting jewelry to incorporate in my outfits. I make a point of dressing with one special eye-catching item that is a talking piece like a brooch, or a ring I have made (yes, I make accessories) or a statement necklace. You can style-up any outfit with accessories and keeping an eye out for interesting and novel pieces is a curious activity I adopt.

Tip 3: Don’t let your game down for online meetings.

When I need to work online, from top to ankle I am dressed as I would if I were in an office setting. From left and right of my iMac screen, I have excellent soft yellow lighting prepared and I always have my lips colored and ready for action.

Impressions wearing kay me

kay me clothing is so versatile and really fits my image.

I moved away from suits as a lawyer some years ago, and prefer the dress and jacket look now. I also really love prints and so kay me is easy to fit into the image of professionalism x femininity that I want to portray to my clients and business stakeholders.

A lot of thought has gone into the design and the selection of the stretchy materials of kay me dresses so that they flatter women’s different sizes, and heights and are truly easy to co-ordinate.
I loved the playfulness of the Tiny Dot pattern, and this can easily take me from daywear any season, through to evening if I slip on a jacket. It was such a breathtaking moment to put on the Tiny Dot dress and I squealed with delight when the zip went right up! It cinched me nicely at the waist and glided over my lower body and it felt really nice to wear. I loved the pockets in this design especially. 

I am a big fan wearing color as well, and my eyes were drawn into the Japanese design of the Takeyabu Green Wrap dress that I wore in Part 1. I loved that this was a wrap dress and how easy it was to wear. It would be simple to take in an overnight bag or in-flight and arrive fresh and ready for business meetings. There is no way anyone would not see you and remember you in this Japanese print. It’s a signature piece of clothing and I felt elevated wearing this design. 

What I noticed wearing the pumps was how they gave the illusion of longer looking legs, which was a new discovery for me. I had such a great time trying on the perfectly made dresses and look forward to seeing further designs in the various ranges they have.

Meet Catherine O’Connell, the “Lawpreneur” empowering women in law – Part 1

At kay me, we are always inspired by the amazing achievements and examples set by ambitious individuals who stand up to the challenge. In this series, we chat to International female entrepreneurs who are paving their own paths and leading the way for others in Japan, and hear their stories, advice and perspectives starting up their success.

Recently, we caught up with “Lawpreneur” from New Zealand, Catherine O’Connell, the first international woman to start up her own law firm in Tokyo, who is now empowering women in Japan to reach their potential. She shares her career story and networking advice with us.

Tell us about a little about your background

Born and raised in New Zealand, after leaving school and delving into an intense course of study of the Japanese language, I dived into a first career as a tour guide with JTB.

I then pivoted into law and became a lawyer working with Japanese businesspeople and ex-pat corporates. An opportunity arose to come to work in Japan for 1 year and, well, I’ve now been living and working in Japan for 18 years! 

After building experience as in-house legal counsel in big Japanese corporates and working in Tokyo and London for an international law firm, I became a “Lawpreneur” – a entrepreneurial lawyer – and launched my own boutique law firm in Tokyo. In 2020 I won an Entrepreneur of the Year Award which I am most proud of.

When I am off work, I love watching rugby, wine tasting, making jewelry as a pastime as well as taking walks which I call #soulstrolls.

Making the career jump: the road to establishing her law firm in Japan

Boldness is not a muscle you are born with; boldness is a muscle you can build and learn over time. After amassing experience in all four corners of the legal world (working in-house at headquarters; APAC head of legal in a US subsidiary; International law firm solicitor and several secondments) I had enough boldness to take a leap. I knew it was time to utilizing all this business law experience to give clients are truly practical business-based lawyer experience. I wanted more balance and flexibility in my professional life, and I wanted to disrupt the legal services industry and provide a fresh approach to legal services with a flexible lawyer option.

On International Women’s Day in March 2021, Japan’s first lawyer-led legal podcast program “Lawyer on Air” was launched. We talk to female lawyers working in Japan, all things law and entrepreneurship. I decided to launch this podcast so that I can shine a brilliant light on the extremely wonderful women lawyers who surround me, inspire me and support me as they excel in their work in Japan. I’m passionate about giving them a platform to share their stories and successes as a woman lawyer working in the Land of the Rising Sun.

If anyone knows someone who would be a wonderful guest on my show please let me know!

https://www.catherineoconnelllaw.com/podcast

The key to success is “Networking”

Networking was and still is absolutely central to my success. Without the extensive and deep network I have, I don’t think I would have had the courage to attempt to launch a law practice in Japan. It is our networks that sustain us – for information and advice, for directing potential clients to us and for keeping their ears open for us to share our voice through various speaking opportunities. For me networking means “building relationships” and because I had built relationships over many years I had the confidence to open my own business and be supported by these people I had built relationships with.

Catherine’s Three Tips for Networking

Tip 1: Every connection you make is a valuable one.

I had built a network of people over the last 20 plus years and so I would recommend anyone setting up in business that they have some finances and have an established network of people to call upon for the spectrum of support you need to run a successful business. I think the biggest challenge when I started was the initial setup, and the time it took to do the paperwork with the Ministry of Justice, and with the banks in Japan. The paperwork bottleneck is still a big problem for setting up business in Japan. Other than that, I really didn’t have many challenges, as I had savings to financially sustain me and many people, male and female reached out to help me and refer clients to me in my early days.

Tip 2: Build bridges that last. Don’t burn them.

Networking is a long-game play and not about what you can grab.  I also think it’s very important when you leave a workplace to go to new pastures, that you do not burn any bridges. It’s bound to be the case that in future roles, your path will cross over the network of people from your past. Keeping professional relationships is critical for strengthening your networks even more and a sour relationship will weaken your network.

Networking is a two-way street and I always have at the forefront of my mind what I can do for that person to help them, and usually they help me further down the track.

Tip 3: Asking for introductions is key

If you are a little bit shy, I would suggest you ask one person in every meeting you are in, to help introduce you to someone in their network. In order to do that, you need to be able to introduce yourself well and say what it is you do to help others. That way a person can easily introduce you to the right people who you can build relationships with.

Being the leader of a diverse network for female legal practitioners, “Women in Law Japan”

I love working with this group of fantastic lady lawyers and I am really proud of what insights and knowledge sharing we produce for the big network of lawyers and people working in the law in Japan. Our members are all full-time lawyers working in house or in private practice and they are super busy in their daily work. However somehow they all manage to come together in unison to create and curate all of the events and activities that we deliver to our 300-strong membership. I have to give big credit to the previous President, Rika Beppu, who set up things very nicely and efficiently so that I could walk into the role from January 2021 with ease.

In such a leadership role you have to be really well organized, prepare agendas, instigate and oversee the event planning, and build comradery so that the team work as one unit. I also take the time to guide so that others can take charge of different aspects of the organization such as social media channels, the website, specialist committees. I’ve learned a lot as the leader of this Not for Profit board.

I would like to provide full support to all female lawyers. The more people there are, the wider the network and the stronger and more empowered the community becomes.

Find our more about “Women In Law Japan” here:

https://womeninlawjapan.org/

In the next part, we take a closer look into the day of Catherine’s busy schedule, hear her inspirations and find out more on her style philosophy. Read Part Two.

For more beautiful kimono-inspired dresses made in Japan, see our selection below:

How to Survive Rainy Days in Japan

As the last of the sakura petals fall, a lush wave of greenery washes over Japan, welcoming the warmer days of spring. However, before summer can truly arrive, the country is met by a month-long rainy season, or tsuyu (梅雨=plum rain). This unpredictable season brings a mixture of heavy rain, extreme humidity, high winds, and unstable temperatures. Here are a few tips and tricks to survive the rainy season of Japan, and to even enjoy it!

The ‘Tsuyu’ Essentials

Going to work during the rainy season can impose many unpleasant hurdles such as commuting in the rain, walking into heavily air-conditioned rooms, and being surrounded by extreme humidity. A few tsuyu season must-haves for any woman on the go in Japan are body wipes, stick hair wax, blotting paper and powder, and a small towel. Many of these items are centered around being convenient, portable, and mess-free and to keep a fresh appearance throughout the day. All of these items (and more!) can easily be stored in the kay me Boxy Pouch, which comes in two sizes, small and large. Keep your items not only neat and organized in your bag, but it also adds extra protection from sudden rainfall with its water-repellant surface!

Dressing for the Office

Workwear can also make a great difference in how comfortable you stay throughout your day and in recent weeks, we have seen more and more interest our Cotton-blend Suit range. A recommendation for all-day comfort is our Gray Stretch I-Line Trousers, which feature a slightly shortened hem which will prevent them from being soaked from sudden rain or unexpected puddles. The cotton blend jersey material used is light, breathable, and quick-drying and after a long day, you can also throw it in the wash, hang it up to dry and have a fresh set for the next day. Pair these trousers with your favorite top and the matching Cotton Blend Jersey jacket for an instantly gorgeous and comfy rainy day outfit!

As a way to subside the humidity, many workplaces keep their air-conditioning on, which can result in a chilly atmosphere, especially coming inside after being dampened by the rain. To avoid the cold workplace, we recommend packing an extra, lightweight layer that can be easily thrown on whenever additional warmth is needed. A suggestion we have is our White Kanazawa Side-Slit Cardigan! This lightweight cardigan provides breathable coverage all the way down to the knees and features the perfect design to pair with any dress or outfit. Simply throw this cardigan over when you feel chilly, or even drape it over your knees when working at your desk. The possibilities of this versatile piece are endless!

Traveling in the Tsuyu season

Many may feel discouraged from traveling on rainy days, but with the right location and attire, it can easily make for a charming adventure. Like the crimson red momiji leaves in the autumn and the blush-colored petals of sakura blossoms in the spring, tsuyu season is most famous for their breathtaking ajisai (hydrangea) blooms. Hydrangeas in Japan range from white, blue, purple, red, and any mixture of these colors. The scenery of an ocean of bloomed ajisai is one that many local Japanese people leave the comfort of their homes for, despite the gloomy weather. During this time, many places partake in ajisai festivals filled with traditional Japanese cuisine, contests, and various entertainments that can be enjoyed by all ages. Temples around areas such as Kamakura and Kyoto are also popular locations to enjoy hydrangea blooms as they are often planted along the entire pathways leading to and around the temples. For a stroll around the temples of Kamakura, we recommend a lightweight cotton dress, like our Khaki Cotton Shirt Dress, which helps wick away moisture for lasting, soft comfort.

As it is likely that you will need to hold an umbrella when exploring Japan during tsuyu, it is highly recommended that you carry a bag that will free up both arms. A perfect travel companion is our 29 Pocket Wallet Bag, which easily fits all of your necessities (and more!) into a compact bag that can be worn three ways; as a clutch, shoulder bag, and crossbody. Wear the 29 Pocket Wallet Bag as a crossbody to free both arms for your umbrella in one hand and your phone in the other to take snapshots of the gorgeous hydrangea in the rain!

Whether experiencing tsuyu at work or on your days off, there are several ways to make the experience much more enjoyable. For example, shopping for a new favorite pair of rain boots, or taking a stroll around your local area in a different light, or rather an overcast. No matter what you do during this season, if you are planning to step out of the house, be sure to grab your trusty umbrella and any other rain gear to avoid any unexpected downpours. Keeping these tips and tricks in mind will surely make this rainy season not only a breeze, but also filled with exciting opportunities to explore Japan!

Meet Connie Sui Fung, Working mother and entrepreneur from Malaysia helping women look and feel their best – Part 2

We sat down with Connie Sui Fung, image consultant, business owner and working mother to learn more about her story in Japan. In part one, we looked into her journey starting up her Color Me Tokyo business, from her challenges to advice and glimpsed into the origins that drove her to where she is today. For part two, we take a glimpse into the other side and learn what goes behind the scenes in a day of this busy working mother.

You are a busy mother of three! How is it like raising children in Japan?

It was not easy when they were young. In Japan, the mother is supposed to do everything herself, but I got lucky! My husband and parents-in-law supported me most of the time, which I am grateful for.

My Japanese was not good when I first came here, but my kindergarten mom’s friends helped me a lot. They shared information on child-rearing in Japan and they always made me feel at home. I really appreciated that.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Depends on which day. I usually work from 10am to 3pm.

Like yesterday, I made breakfast for my kids and got myself ready. After my girls left home for school, I did some quick housework before meeting my client at 10am. Then I had lunch with my husband at neighborhood restaurant. 
After that I worked on Color Me Tokyo homepage. Since I created the website, I manage it myself. 

Then, I dropped off my youngest girl to swimming school and I prepared dinner. After dinner, I dropped off my Junior High school girl to cram school and did the laundry. And finally, I prepared for a business meeting today before going to bed.

What do you need out of clothing to meet your current lifestyle as an image consultant, business owner and mother? Any rules that you set for your style?

As a mother I need to run after my children and take them from here to there and have to meet clients on the same day, so I want clothing that is easy to wear and comfortable, yet I do not need to change out of …. I call it a multi-purpose dress, functional dress or an all-in-one dress. If I travel, the last thing I want to be concerned about is having wrinkled items when we take family photos and I need to get ready quickly in the early morning, so wrinkle-resistant clothing is important for me.

Trying kay me for the first time, what are your impressions of the items?

The kay me dresses are the perfect fit for my preferences and lifestyle. I am a ‘Made in Japan’ fan and I prefer having machine-washable items. Most importantly, I need comfortable, functional, all-in-one dresses to wear from day to night. For example, with the Aqua Dot Marilyn Dress, I can wear it with sandals for the weekend or on a casual outing with my kids. If I throw a bolero on – for work. With high heels on – when I am on a date night with my husband. I like the softness, stretchiness and comfortable feel of the material, and it has side pocket! This is well-designed. There was time I wore the wrong dress, and my day was haywire. When I wear the right dress, I feel my day is fully accomplished. This dress is very ME. Somehow this dress also reminded me of one of Duchess Catherine’s dresses – I feel very elegant in it!

Where do you find inspiration nowadays?

I am in my mid-40’s now, I always want to prepare myself on how I look and be in 5 to 10 years from now.  I do research and read magazines aimed at women in their 50’s or 60’s like Eclat Magazine for style inspiration, or I would search from Pinterest with keywords such as “fashion for women over 50”.

What is your recommended spots to enjoy your family time in Tokyo?

The hotel buffet and musical theater.

They both sound like fun! We would love to know the hotel buffet you recommend and the musical you last watched.

Since Covid-19, we haven’t gone out for a buffet dinner, but we went to the same Grilled Eel restaurant Izumoya several times as we could get a private room. My kids like the taste of grilled eel there. The best Unagi in town.

The last musical we went was The Phantom of The Opera. I loved the live orchestra; it was the perfect combination with live stage musical performance. It was wonderful and lively. My kids liked the Aladdin the best. My daughter said it is better than the movie! We are looking forward to the next one.

Connie wears our Aqua Dot Marilyn Dress, White Crew-neck Cardigan and White Two-way Business Bag around Hibiya.

Catch Connie’s career journey in starting up her own businesses in Tokyo in Part One.

Meet Connie Sui Fung, working mother and entrepreneur from Malaysia helping women look and feel their best – Part 1

At kay me, we are always inspired by the amazing achievements and examples set by ambitious individuals who stand up to the challenge. In this series, we chat to International female entrepreneurs who are paving their own paths and leading the way for others in Japan, and hear their stories, advice and perspectives starting up their success. Recently, we caught up with Connie, a mother of three, image consultant and entrepreneur who moved with her family to Japan, eventually starting her own businesses in her 40’s. With little experience in business to start with, she worked her way to establish Color Me Tokyo, her own image consultant agency and now new ventures.

Tell us a little about your background

After I graduated from university in America, I worked for an American payment company as a Data Analyst in Singapore. There I met my husband, got married and had my first child We decided to move to Japan in year 2010, and a year after, my youngest child was born about a month before the Tohoku earthquake. I then started my own business after I turned 40 years old.

How did you start up Color Me Tokyo? What were the biggest challenges you faced starting up?

It was curiosity about how Japanese ladies look fresh and beautiful which turned into a business idea. I went to learn about the beauty culture and etiquette here and how to improve one’s appearance like how many Japanese people in society do. I saw the change myself. From there, I decided to make it my career.

I started the Image consulting salon right after I finished the course as a freelancer. I enjoyed doing the salon business setup, networking, and everything!  Being a newbie in Image consulting and the biggest challenge is customer acquisition.

Any style advice for our readers?

Love yourself.  Once you love yourself, you will care to know more about your style. Sorry back to the style. I would say, style is about balance. Know your face and body proportion. Knowing that, you will know what kind of color, clothing, jewelry, hairstyle, and makeup style is right for you. For example, I have rounded face shape.  I will not put on the round hoop earrings; I will choose something dangle or long to elongate my face.

My facial parts/features are not big, but I know clothing with large prints is not ideal for me.  And then I have my own uniform for work, girlfriend outing and family time.

“Talk to friends or any one you know about your ideas. You may never know; they may be your big investors. “


Could you share with us your experience with networking in Japan? How has that led you to where you are today?

I got distracted from my goals at times, so then I would attend networking sessions once a week, which helped me realign my focus, my goals and purpose. Being surrounded by like-minded ambitious people was a great reminder for me and I even met my current mentor there, who I turn to for advice even today.

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start up their own business?

Talk to friends or any one you know about your ideas. You may never know; they may be your big investors.  Do not sit back and let life happen to you. Just get out of your comfort zone and try it. One other thing is you must enjoy the process. If you do not, then that may be not ideal for you, but never give up on the big picture.

Do you have a role model you look up to?

My mother and my sisters of course. My mother is very energetic. She taught me the mother’s role is just like the pillar of the house and making a good balance between business and family matters is key. As for my sisters, I respect my eldest sister business management style. She manages family businesses very efficiently. Then my younger sister is the true entrepreneur. She started her business from scratch. Now she has successfully made her clients look more luxurious with her jewelry.

In Japan, I admire many female entrepreneurs who are shaping the world around us and making a difference. I read your founder, Junko’s story and I admire her innovation.

Connie wears our Fresh Lime Daily Dress, Champagne Pink 29 Pocket Wallet Bag and Coral Pink Vegan Suede Puni Puni Pumps at our Ginza store.

See Part 2 coming up for more on what goes behind the day of Connie Sui Fung.