La Carmina is a travel journalist and fashion blogger, specializing in offbeat stories about Tokyo and Asia. She wrote 3 books about J-pop culture, and hosts travel TV shows for networks including TLC, Food Network, Discovery, National Geographic and Travel Channel. La Carmina and her film crew shoot travel episodes about youth trends, style and subcultures worldwide, in destinations like Abu Dhabi, Israel, Taiwan and Cape Town. See more of La Carmina’s colorful style and travel guides on her popular website, Lacarmina.com.
1) Stylishly Beautiful Team (from now on SBT): Tell us a few things about yourself.
I grew up in Vancouver, Canada and from a young age, I felt inspired by Goth and alternative subcultures. My family traveled around Asia a lot when I was younger, so I was also captivated by Harajuku styles early on. While I was at Yale Law School, I discovered blogging and wanted to give it a try, for fun. I got hooked and my La Carmina blog grew, resulting in my varied, full time career today. I currently work as a blogger, travel journalist, author, and travel TV host on networks like Travel Channel, Fuel, NHK Japan, Food Network and National Geographic. Travel is a a big part of my life right now, especially when I can share meaningful stories about fringe cultures worldwide. My film team and I have shot episodes in countries like UAE, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Taiwan, and South Africa.
2) SBT: How do you manage to be a TV presenter, fashion blogger, travel journalist and an author at the same time?
It seems like I’m doing a lot at once, but in truth, I wear different hats at different times (but always colorful and creative ones!) About a year after I started my La Carmina blog, I had book deals with Penguin and Random House, and worked on those for a year. After, TV producers contacted me about appearing on shows, and the TV hosting jobs kept growing from there. I now focus more on TV presenting and arranging, and on original travel stories (rather than just outfit posts).
3) SBT: Which are some of your favorite travel destinations?
For beaches, I loved the Maldives. I also had a laid-back time in Cebu, which isn’t crowded with tourists unlike other Southeast Asian beach destinations. As for alternative / underground city culture and nightlife, my favorites include New Orleans, Prague, Tokyo, Seoul and Hong Kong.
4) SBT: How did you decide to start blogging?
In all honesty, I wasn’t creatively fulfilled in law school, and didn’t connect to most of the people around me. Online, I discovered subculture groups and fashion bloggers who shared my passions, creating a sense of community. I always enjoyed writing and web design and was attracted to the mix of words and visuals in blogs. I started my La Carmina site as a hobby, quickly learned that I loved blogging, and kept on doing it. Today, I still remain excited to put together posts and share my adventures with readers.
5) SBT: How would you describe your personal style?
Some people use the term “spooky cute” to describe what I wear. There’s generally a Gothic/alternative/edgy element to it, mixed with Asian “kawaii” – and my hair is always bright shades like red, purple, blue. I love Japanese street style brands, leather, corsets, disco coats, big sunglasses and doll heeled boots.
6) SBT: What’s blogging for you?
A creative outlet and a way to get the word out on topics I feel are important. For example, I’ll cover underground topics first-hand, which can be misunderstood by the general public – like fetish lifestyles, maids and idols in Japan, body modifications, drag queen shows and more. By having a positive conversation and dispelling misunderstandings, I hope my blog can help to open minds.
7) SBT: What would be your advice to someone who wants to become a full-time blogger?
Blogging has changed immensely over the years and there aren’t any set rules for success. The reality is that most professional bloggers have a diverse stream of income from different areas related to blogging (such as e-books, consulting, selling products, or getting jobs through their blog) so don’t rely on ads and affiliate income alone. There’s a huge learning curve for blogging – I encourage people to get a solid understanding of SEO, design, effective writing, photography, social media and more. Finally, top quality content and a unique voice will always remain essential.
8) SBT: What difficulties have you encountered since they day you started blogging?
Working for yourself has many upsides but also challenges. There isn’t a steady paycheck, so at times you have to hustle in order to keep the opportunities coming. However I enjoy this DIY environment, which means ups and downs aren’t too difficult for me.
9) SBT: TV presenter, fashion blogger, travel journalist. Which one would you say is your favorite?
I’d combine travel and TV as my favorites. I love diving into local, alternative culture with my film team from Day of the Dead in Mexico to beauty pageants in the Philippines. I feel my work makes the biggest difference when I can present topics like alternative beauty and subcultures on-camera, in a positive light.
10) SBT: What are your future plans?
On that note… The next months will involve a fair bit of travel, and dream projects that fit these goals, especially in TV hosting and producing. I hope my work encourages others to see the world, and keep an open mind towards people from all walks of life. Coming up next, I’ll be in Tokyo and Hong Kong — I hope you’ll join me on my journey and enjoy these stories on www.lacarmina.com/blog/
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