London Calling

I love a fast city. Tokyo will always be my second home, so I was surprised at how quickly I fell in love with London. The 75 degree weather didn’t hurt… but beyond that, lovely people, gorgeous art, great shopping and the buildings… I walked around with my head up like a dumb tourist for days.



In-flight skincare by DHC. After I eat (the lightest meal… I usually pre-order Hindu or Veggie) I wash up and slather my face in EGF and my hands in Olive Body Butter, power up on Zzzquil and pass out.


Stayed at the Ace in Shoreditch. Love Ace hotels!


My room had a turntable and a guitar and also Rod Stewart’s hair.


Jetlag at 3pm is no good. I should have powered through until after dinner but I couldn’t. Annnnd I paid for it.


Prettiest shop in Oxford Circus. I bought this super cute bag!



Also went to the Tate Modern…

Diego Rivera. <3


Accidentally ate blood sausage in this spring roll. It was really good! The thing about London having bad food is hopelessly outdated. I ate amazingly well there.


Highly recommend this place…there are a few locations scattered about.


And fell in love with the street art.


Next stops, Vegas, Tahoe, and NYC!



After Expat Life & The “Oh Yeahs”

After two years of expat life in Tokyo, being back in San Francisco is a little weird. People both here and in Japan ask me:

What do you miss? What’s different?

Reverse culture shock is intense and it’s difficult to explain. It’s like going back to your old high school after 20 years… but it’s your entire life. It’s everything. Constant “oh yeahs.”

The main standouts seem to be the little things… Everyone is taller here. Glasses and plates are bigger. Food portions are bigger. People are louder and strangers talk to you for no reason. Case in point: I was walking down the street near Lake Merritt and a woman walked up to me and said, out of the blue, “Wow it smells like barbecue sauce here!” WHAT. WHY ARE YOU TELLING ME THIS. Most of the time I feel simultaneously at home and slightly confused.

And I’ve changed. I’m still bowing to people I don’t know and I’m pretty sure I over-apologize. Overall people here just seem more “in your face” than I remember… I need to buck up a little.

It’s still too soon to tell what I miss about Tokyo but straight away I can tell you I just miss my daily routine because it was so familiar. The lady I bought my chirashi bowls from. My conbini. My kids from my Thursday afternoon English classes.

I feel pretty fortunate to be home and working for a Japanese company. My Japanese co-workers have been so kind, offering to help me keep up my fragile language skills. Strangely enough I’m studying more now in America than I did in Japan, and I’m realizing I know more than I realized.

But Oakland is amazing. I think outside of the Bay Area it gets a bad rap. Which is a pity because there are some serious gems here for eating, shopping, and just hanging out.


This is the park area next to Lake Merrit. About five minutes from my apartment.


And I love easy access to reaaaaallly good coffee. (Tutorial courtesy of Bicycle Coffee, Oakland.)


One thing I’m really enjoying about Bay Area life is the app and subscription culture– it’s kind of crazy how much you can accomplish on your phone here! Need a ride? There’s an app for that. Want groceries delivered? App. My favorite subscription right now is Stitch Fix. My friend Jess turned me onto it when I was complaining about my tiny wardrobe.

Stitch Fix is simple:

Fill out a style profile, the more detailed, the better. They ask questions about what you need, what you want to try, how you like clothes to fit you… it’s super specific. They even let you link Pintrest boards to give the stylists clear ideas on what you want to try.

The stylist picks out five things for you to try and sends them to you.

The styling fee is $20.00 but you get that back if you buy something. If you buy all five you get 25% off.

I bought 3 out of 5 of my first fix…

This dress is perfect for work and super easy to wear.


And I love a lace top that doesn’t scream SISTER WIFE.


In general, I kind of suck at buying accessories. I have really good jewelry that lives on me always, and that’s usually about it. I would have never bought this chevron necklace for myself but I think I like it.


I’m set up now to get a Fix every month. We’ll see how it goes. For now I’m enjoying letting other people shop for me. Plus it’s always fun to have something to look forward to, isn’t it?

Right now Tokyo feels a lot more familiar than Oakland and SF…  so I’m going to be doing a lot of exploring in my new old hometowns. And I can read the maps here! Oh yeah. 🙂




New Year News!

Wow. It has been an excellent year so far, and we’re just getting started. I’m beyond pleased to announce that I’m the new Senior Editor for DHC Skincare, America. The role makes a lot of sense for me, considering I’ve been obsessed with both natural and Japanese skincare for eons. DHC is absolutely huge in Japan and adored by some of the best beauty bloggers and MUAS in the world.


I’ll be contributing a great deal to the creative side of the brand in America, and overseeing the print content as well. Plus, I’ll be representing the company at events and conferences, so I’ll be part-editor,  part-beauty ambassador. So stay tuned for some cool content on that side of things. Thrilled!

As far as content here goes, the modeling/business advice and travel tips for lady globetrotters isn’t going to change one bit. As always, feel free to ask me anything about getting into the business, photographers, visas in Japan, or starting a new life as a #ladyexpat.

Okay 2015… let’s do this!




Thank You, 2014. Expat Life in Japan


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photo 3 (6)







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photo 4

Thank you, Japan. On to the next adventure…



Modeling Basics: The Look

Let’s do a little Modeling 101, shall we? Here’s an excerpt from Step 2 of THE MODEL START-UP covering a few modeling basics to consider– even before your first portfolio shoot.  Take a good, long look at your selfies, people. Print clients aren’t looking for perfection, but they are looking for consistent, healthy, and well- maintained models. The word we here a lot in the ad world is “aspirational.” So… to get the job, you have to look the part. If you want to check out the book, which covers everything, it’s on Amazon now.

Okay enough pimping, let’s get to it.

Step 2 Taking Inventory: Your Look

So many girls have emailed me over the years, telling me how they’re so committed to becoming models that they’re undergoing massive transformations. Hard core diets, aggressive med-spa procedures, even plastic surgery to eliminate what they perceive to be their flaws.

This is not the way to go. Fashion models have amazingly long legs and super slim figures— commercial print models are US. We’re the Every Girl. Aspirational? Sure— but we’re not super tall or thin or flawless. We have gapped teeth and crooked noses… it’s called character and it’s awesome! Don’t change who you are because who you are is exactly what a particular client is looking for. One of my fashion model friends calls herself a “professional hanger” which I think is spot on. Fashion models sell fashion— leave that to them. We sell just about everything else.

Okay enough lecture. All of that said— having a polished appearance is important. So here are a few things clients look for when deciding on models for a print job:


Smile: White, basically straight teeth are pretty key to most shoots. The look is happy, friendly, approachable, warm. Now this doesn’t apply to every single job (i.e.: the mid-40’s guy playing a the Regular Joe construction worker) but for most product and relationship shots, clients want to see a healthy smile.

Hair: Like teeth, your hair should be in good shape. Shiny, trimmed, and a universal but flattering shade. No chunky highlights or purple dip dying. It’s a little bit of a drag when you get the urge to do something crazy with your hair and you know you can’t, but it’s the cost of doing business in this industry. I’ve worn my hair in the same basic style for years (dark brown, long, with long bangs) and while every once in a while I’ll do a little ombre or highlights– it’s always subtle enough so as not to prevent me from booking.


Nails: Short, clean, simple manicure. Always, always do a minimal manicure the day before a shoot. Just a simple trim, file, and buff (guys too!) goes a long way, especially if you’re holding a product or your hands are in the shot in any way. Most clients don’t want any kind of fake nails or dark polish in their shoots. At the very most, a natural pink manicure. Hand models go out of their way for hand and nail care. These folks usually have long, elegant fingers, no hand scarring, and lovely nail beds. For the rest of us– just keeping our hands well-maintained is usually enough.

Skin: I’m fanatic about skincare. You name it and I either own it, have tried it, used to do it, or am planning on doing it. There are three key factors in maintaining healthy skin: exfoliate, moisturize, and sunscreen. Do these routinely according to your skin type and you’ll be in fine shape. If you have scarring, pigmentation, or acne issues, see a dermatologist and get professional help. It’s costs more and it’s worth it.

Overall health: Obviously, general good health is super important as a human, but in the modeling world it’s important you look and feel the part. Exercise, take supplements, and eat well to maintain your health, not to drop weight drastically or fit into some character role you’re not cut out to play. Not everyone is, or is supposed to be a size 00.

Poise: This is a big one. Posture, speech, attitude, and overall energy you bring to the set are all so critical to your success on a shoot. Being professional and positive ups your ability to book dramatically.


For the complete, step-by-step plan on getting into modeling the right way, check out THE MODEL START-UP on Amazon. And let me know how you’re doing!

Break a leg!





Chat with a Pro: Makeup Artist Favorites

Earlier this month I asked a few of my favorite makeup artists and hair stylists from Tokyo and San Francisco a question: On set, what’s the one hair or skin product you absolutely cannot live without?

From classic to obscure, here are the absolute must-have, makeup artist favorites– straight from the mouths of the pros.

Creme de la Mer moisturizer and Smashbox Light Photo Finish primer.”- Rona De Castro Basa

SF based MUA Rona De Castro Basa is the beauty genius behind this super femme wedding shoot. (P.S. Her eyelash work is truly stunning…)

La Mer is synonymous with soft skin. Before moving to Tokyo I used in for years and loved it as an eye cream, or an all-over night cream during the drier months.

Smashbox is a long time cult favorite, and after launching 14 years ago, still remains a top choice for photoshoot skin smoothing. The founders are the great grandsons of Hollywood legend Max Factor, and their Smashbox Studios remain a mainstay in the L.A. fashion/editorial shoot scene.

You can see Rona’s work and find out more about her here. 

“I love Temptu SB. It’s amazing, especially for base make up.”- Yuki Haba



Yuki Haba is a Tokyo-based fashion MUA and Temptu master. When he’s working, his level of precision is off the charts, yet he still manages to be super fun to work with.

IMG_0113-682x1024 10348206_543444885764834_3849937696814059992_n We did a job for BeautyWorld last year where he took his mad Temptu skills to the next level. His love for edgy, sexy shoots shows in his creative choices.

Straight up: When it comes to pro-beauty, Maria Lee can do anything.

“Powder or blotting papers for makeup and thick styling cream for hair to get the flyaways.”- Maria Lee

Literally ANYTHING. Super vamp sexy? Yep. Gory special effects? Oh yes. Bridal? It’s what she’s famous for.


Victory rolls and matte flawlessness. The girl’s got talent…

Her organic spray tans are the stuff of legends in San Francisco, and everyone I know who’s worked with her absolutely adores her. Why? She’s super pro (her home studio is every girl’s makeup dream) and has that coveted MUA gift of pushing beauty boundaries and still making it look perfect.

Blotting papers are everywhere, but lately I’ve been digging these ones from Kyoto-based Chidoriya– Nars’ head of global artistry James Boehmer loves them.


For loose powder Chidoriya also makes a colorless setting powder that reminds me of Koh Gen Doh. Natural, Japanese, classic. And hey if it’s good enough for geisha…

Luna Yoshikawa is part of the Tokyo dream team at No. 3 , the top creative agency in town. A sought-after hair stylist (read: book her waaaaay in advance) Luna’s done countless shoots for fashion, TV, and editorial. Communication wasn’t an issue for us on our test shoot with Yuki because the girl speaks fluent Beauty.

“I love Prejume styling wax by Milbon. For straight hair, I use a polish spray, like Silky Fog Nigelle LaFusion.”- Luna Yoshikawa



Harder to get in the States, but you can find them here and here.

Sarah Dean is not only a super amazing MUA but a total girls’ girl. I love her Instagram for product tips and general life inspiration. She’s a wife, mom, and full-on beauty junkie. 

Her pick? Fix It spray.  It’s a setting and hydrating mist. Makes makeup feel like a second skin..and sets makeup too!”

Atsuko Ohtsu is the Tokyo MUA responsible for the pretty on countless TV and film projects, as well as the beauty lead for the commercial we did last year. 




Her answer?

“It’s difficult to choose… but for hair it’s Elnette satin.”- Atsuko Ohtsu

I think this one gets nods from around the table. Some things are just universal. 😉



New: Japanese Drugstore Beauty Products

In Japan, the humble drugstore is an absolute wonderland for skincare and cosmetics shoppers.  Great quality for the price points, fun packaging, and serious active ingredients make bargain beauty shopping a breeze here, and if you visit, you can pretty much throw a dart and find a huge selection in any ward in Tokyo. Here’s an updated roundup of some of my favorite Japanese drugstore beauty products.


Brand: Canmake

Product: Gel Volume Top Coat

Price: Under 600 yen (like five bucks US)

Why it’s awesome: Super long lasting, a fellow expat turned me onto Canmake’s nail line a few months ago. The polishes go on easy and maintain shine for a solid week. For the price, they really can’t be beat.


Brand: Puresa

Product: CoQ10 Sheet Masks

Price: Under 500 yen (~ $3.50 US)

Why it’s awesome: These are everywhere… EVERYWHERE in Tokyo, but not all sheet masks are the same. With CoQ10 as the hero ingredient, these masks fight free radicals, promote elasticity, and soften fine lines. Cheap and cheerful daily maintenance. 


Brand: Shiseido

Product: d program Medicated Concealer

Price: Under 4000 yen (in Japan… buying in the States it runs about $45.00)

Why it’s awesome: Two words: maximum coverage.  I tested d Program in the store and my nose pretty much disappeared. It’s like a magic eraser, and loaded with active ingredient Phellodendron amurense (a.k.a. amur cork tree bark), it clears blemishes and fights red weirdness without over drying.  Considering the Mercier concealer palette is around $32.00, it’s not exactly a bargain, but if you breakout and want a serious concealment… this is the go-to.


Brand: DHC

Product: Lip Cream

Price: Under 650 yen (in Japan… buying in the States it runs about $8.00)

Why it’s awesome: Not too hard, not too soft, DHC’s super emollient lip cream is just right. Fragrance-free, olive-oil based, this cult classic both in Japan and in the States is everywhere in Japan (even the convenience stores). DHC is to Japan what Clinique is to the States: a simple, nationally renown brand found in every woman’s beauty arsenal. My apartment in Tokyo is literally six minutes away from two DHC shops.


Brand:K Palette

Product: 1 Day Tattoo Eyeliner

Price: Under 1300 yen (in Japan… buying in the States it runs about $15.00)

Why it’s awesome: A razor sharp tip and almost indelible formula make 1 Day Tattoo a forever favorite. I’m not a pro makeup artist by any stretch, so on most days nailing my cat eyes is literally a stroke of luck. K Palette is the Japanese standard for long lasting, super fine liquid liner. I’m not as crazy about the eyebrow version, but for a sexy stiletto eye, 1 Day Tattoo is my top choice.

Off to stock up for my trip to the States! 




Holiday Beauty Deals

Packing and packing! I’m gearing up to come home for the holidays and have been too busy to do anything, but here are a few deals I’ve spied while trying not to shop… Maybe I’ll just live vicariously through you guys for holiday beauty deals this year.

ASOS has last-minute gifts sets at 30% off. Anna Sui, Paul & Joe, Models Own, et. al.



CLARISONIC is giving 20% off all orders,  free overnight shipping on orders of $100+with code SAVEANDSHIP. Ends 12/19.


CLINIQUE has free shipping on $50+ orders.  3 Free best loved Clinique fragrances with any $35 purchase with code 3BEST, ends 12/22.


DHC is offering the 12 Days of Christmas, with a new deal every day.


ELF: 40% off everything (ends soon) Code GOODIES

Folica is offering 20% off site wide (Sedu extra 10%) Code MORE20

Juice Beauty is doing The 12 Days of Beauty, offering a different flash sale every day….

KIEHLS is dishing out $20 in Kiehl’s Cash to use towards purchases of $65 or more with code JOLLY, ends 12/31. Receive 2 deluxe samples with any $60 purchase with code HOLIDAY, ends 12/25.


 is doing 26 Days of Delights; discover a new FREE Mini every day with code DELIGHT, ends 12/26. Receive an Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy Sculpting Lipstick sample with $25+ order with code COLORENVY, ends 12/31.  Get a free Pores No More Pore Refiner Primer deluxe sample with any $25+ purchase with code ZEROPORES, ends 12/31.

Loads of deals for last minute gifting! I’m busy packing– see you soon in California!




Doro de Asobu: Japanese Ceramics

Making pottery is one of my newer hobbies and definitely one of the funnest things I’ve picked up since moving to Japan. It’s a national art form here, and even today there are tiny villages all over Japan where you can go and watch the locals throw in their regional styles. There are a million different styles of pottery (yaki 陶芸). I love Karatsu (唐津焼 ) and Raku ware  (楽焼 ).

Making pottery is relaxing, creative, tactile… and as far as art goes, it’s one of the more practical forms since you can basically make your own dishes and gifts. Taking a lump of wet goo and transforming it into something lovely and useful is a very satisfying way to spend my time.


Not all clays are created equal– white clay is good for beginners because it holds its shape well. Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 8.54.44 PM Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 9.34.32 PM

I learned basic throwing at Uzumako Art School in Mito. A small clay studio just a few minutes from the station, and Teimour (the sensei) is super chill and wonderful to work with.

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Red is gorgeous, but a little wiley… I switched to red after throwing white a few times and immediately noticed the difference.

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I also went up to Kasama in Ibaraki to work with Kasama clay (kind of a mix of red and white– it’s special to the region and SO pretty). I had no translator and none of the studio staff spoke English, so they basically just set me up and let me do my thing. I wrote about it for Savvy a while back.


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I’m going back to California for the holidays and I’m hoping to find a place to throw so I can compare notes. I also want to learn some hand working techniques, and maybe play with some oven clay. In Japan, homes don’t have ovens, so I’m hoping my family doesn’t mind if I bake a little clay while I’m there. 🙂

Here are some cool inspiration shots from Urban Comfort, where Suzonne uses oven clay. I’m  absolutely trying to make these leaf bowls when I get home. So pretty.

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There’s something about getting your hands dirty and making something that is really special. I don’t know what it is… but I like it. If you’re into clay or are an experience ceramicist… send some links my way! I’m always looking for photos and tips. 🙂

Dirty hands and warms hearts,



Sign on the Dotted______. Acting and Modeling Terms

First off– a huge thank you to everyone who has downloaded THE MODEL START-UP thus far. Your notes and questions are awesome… I love offering my two cents so feel free to drop me a line at my FB page. Happy to help if I can. Now… back to business.

audition sheet Japan

I got an email from a young up-and-comer about a job she booked in Tokyo recently. There were a few red flags:

  • She got the job by being scouted on Facebook by a dance school. No agency, no go-see.
  • The rate was predictably low, but when this girl went to the job, she learned that some of the represented talent were getting paid triple what she was. (She was also specifically told by the recruiter to NOT network with fellow talent. Not stars, just talent–kind of weird!)
  • She was asked to sign a contract in Japanese– and she cannot read it.

Now as a new model, this girl was doing the right thing. She was simply trying to network and get some new photos for her book. I totally get that. But that this (un)agency wanted to represent her, not giving her an English contract is a dead giveaway that they don’t specialize in foreign talent. This is a setup for exploitation. I asked her a few basic questions about why she wasn’t allowed to talk to actors on set, what the terms of her agreement were, but she had a tough time getting information from the recruiter. A bad sign– agents and bookers should be able to tell you everything you need to know about a job. In Japan, culturally generally people aren’t as forthright, but they are more than happy to give you all the information you need to make an informed choice about your work.

Whether you’re working here in Japan, or on your home turf, it’s essential you understand the basic terms you’re agreeing to. Working with reputable agents, or with photographers you know through trusted sources is so key to ensure you’re going to get proper treatment, decent working conditions, and get paid according to the agreement.


Talking about rates on set is a huge no-no. It’s like walking into your office and asking everyone with your similar job what their salaries are. It’s super unprofessional and likely will create bad blood between talent, crew, and the decision makers. Let your agents deal with the rates, and any money questions should be directed to them.

That said– in Tokyo you can be repped by multiple agents, and often those agents will submit you to the same jobs. If one agent offers you one rate, and another offers you double (for the exact same job!), you’re going to think long and hard about who you want to work with. I talk a lot more about how I deal with varying rates in the book.

Besides cash, there are a few other considerations. Often TV shoots (and some commercials) in Tokyo shoot overnight- meaning, a call time at 11pm and a wrap time around 9am the following morning. Or worse, starting at 5pm and wrapping at 2am so there’s no train to take you home. If it’s a small scale gig and you have to take a taxi or find a hotel– you have to think long and hard about these projects. If it’s worth it to you professionally, then go for it. If you’re going to fall asleep and be a wreck the next day for minimum wage… hmmmm.

What about usage? I wrote about it here... I recommend reading it and knowing the terms.

Know your contracts, understand acting and modeling terms. When you work as a model or actor– YOU are the product, the business. Protect it, and only work with those who join you in doing so. Now go gettum. 😉



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