What do you get when you cross a lawyer unhappy with her career with a penchant for artistic expression?
Sure, it’s a pretty common story. It’s my story. I know plenty of lawyers-turned-writers, lawyers-turned-restauranteurs, even lawyers-turned-actors. But despite no shortage of dissatisfied legal professionals out there, you’ll be hard pressed to find any lawyers-turned-Goth mistresses.
Unless you know La Carmina. Author, blogger, fashion entrepreneur, Harajuku mistress — and, yes, former lawyer — La Carmina runs the 2 million-hits a month fashion and lifestyle blog, LaCarmina.com/blog.
La Carmina’s been on the Today show, she co-hosted the Tokyo episode with Andrew Zimmern on his show Bizarre World on the Travel Channel, and was the subject of a documentary by NHK Japan. Most recently, the mistress of all things Lolita-Goth-Harajuku released two books about Japanese pop culture and food — Crazy Wacky Theme Restaurants: Tokyo and Cute Yummy Time (Penguin USA).
So how did La Carmina go from Yale Law to Lolita blogging? The seeds were sown at a young age. Her Hong Kong-born parents took La Carmina to visit Asia every year, traveling through Tokyo and Seoul, through Bangkok and Beijing. “From the time I was a child, I was fascinated by experimental Asian fashions, especially the clothes I saw in Harajuku,” says La Carmina. “I remember thinking that the clothes were made for aliens. As I grew older, it dawned on me that ‘alien’ didn’t necessarily mean unwearable or undesirable.”
By the time La Carmina reached her teens, her alternative street style sensibility had become her favorite form of self expression.
Of course, that didn’t stop her from pursuing more conventional avenues of success. After graduating from Columbia University in three years, La Carmina felt a little lost. “I was only 20, and there wasn’t a job or field I felt compelled to enter at the time,” she says. “Since I always loved the arts, I considered pursuing entertainment law.” So she applied and got into Yale Law School.
But while La Carmina honed her analytical and writing skills studying law, she quickly realized that working in a law firm wasn’t for her. “I was frustrated with law school culture (read: no subcultures) and needed a creative outlet,” she says. She already had a website so in September 2007, she turned it into a blog.
“The subject was obvious,” says La Carmina. “I had computer folders filled with Japanese street style photos, especially Gothic Lolita.”
The blog’s readership gradually increased through word of mouth. Within six months, media and clothing and makeup companies started taking notice. Within a year, La Carmina had an agent and two book deals.
Sure, the Goth-Lolita photos are gawk-worthy, and the animal-shaped cooking posts are oddly fascinating, but perhaps the most addictive part of her blog is her obsession with her cat Basil Farrow. Many a blog is devoted to artwork or photos of the Scottish Fold kitty and, animal lover or not, after a while that cat really grows on you.