You never know where life is going to take you. That was the message from our February guest speaker, Maxine Van-Cliffe Arakawa, who has had a decades-long career as a fashion stylist, make-up artist, and fashion show director in New York and Japan. She shared her personal experiences dealing with bi-polar disorder and gave her candid advice to women on how to overcome their own struggles by being open, accepting themselves, and developing a strong support system.
When you’re young, you’ve got all these opportunities, she said, first describing how she went to New York from her native England in the early 70s, following her sister, and started working as a make-up artist. She was there for several years, and when she met her first husband, she followed him to Japan.
She then took us on an entertaining tour of influential people in the fashion world who she’s worked with: Vivienne Westwood, Yoji Yamamoto, Anna Wintour, amongst many others, while showing us issues of her current project, Maxine Digital Magazine.
Her early career was stressful, she said, but if you manage to turn it around it can be good stress. You manage to meet a lot of interesting people, even presidents, heads of state, people in the high end of business, she said. People are what makes anybody’s life work, Maxine says.
But one day, when she was having lunch with a friend in London, she suddenly felt that she couldn’t do anything any more. She was overworked, while also trying to fit into a Japanese culture that was different from her own. She managed to get her car, and drive to her parents’ house. From then, she went through one of the most difficult times in her life: spending five years in the U.K., living alone, and rarely seeing her family in Japan and her friends. However, she got help, and learned to deal with depression and bi-polar disorder.
The recovery process took time, but it forced her to reassess her life and consider what was really important. She accepted “her own fallibilities as a human being,” which led her to seek help. Maxine said that she never could imagine at the time that she would be able to bounce back the way she did and found her own magazine. However, she added that if she had not gone through that experience, she would not be able to achieve what she does now; it made her a much stronger person.
Maxine’s experience has led her to share her story and give back to others– to her, if it helps even one person feel better and seek help, then it was worth it. Her advice is to reach out to any women you think can help because they can be your lifeline, give the best advice, and be there for you any time.
When Maxine came back to Japan, she had to rebuild her relationships with her daughter and husband, and learn to focus on the things that really matter. She says what she went through made her a better person, and in fact she had been given a new life, chance, and experience, particularly thanks to her family. Her current project, Maxine Digital Magazine, is a collaboration of art and fashion with them.
Q&A with Rina Bovrisse, activist and founder of the Chateau School
Leading up to our upcoming monthly meeting – The Accidental Activist : From Chanel to Governor of Tokyo? – we’re featuring a quick Q&A with speaker Rina Bovrisse. The Q&A is modeled on the Proust Questionnaire, designed to reveal insights into the respondent’s personality. Join us for an insightful discussion next Wednesday, September 12, as Rina […]Published on 9th September 2018
Insider Intel on the Japan Market Expansion Competition
When the opportunity to apply for a Japan Market Expansion Competition (JMEC) scholarship through FEW arose, FEW members Jane Szafraniec (pictured center left) and Nina Cataldo (pictured center) jumped at the opportunity. To understand the full extent of why this was such an amazing space to be in, they’ve shared what JMEC is, their experiences […]Published on 7th September 2018
Event Recap: TELL & FEW Presents The Feminine Eye
On Saturday, August 8th, a group of 11 people interested in learning more about photography gathered at the National Art Center in Roppongi for a women-led photo walk by Selena Hoy, TELL Outreach Coordinator and FEW Community Services Director Tia Haygood, who also is a professional photographer of TopTia Photography.Published on 3rd September 2018
September 2018 Strategic Partner Member Offers & Other News
Check out the latest member offers and opportunities from our Strategic Partners and other FEW Community Events here! Our Strategic Partners are committed to bringing the best services and products to FEW members. And go to our Strategic Partners page to learn more about all of FEW’s Strategic Partners, who not only support FEW’s activities but also […]Published on 27th August 2018
How I got Here: Kirsten O’Connor
I decided at age 7, quite resolutely that I wanted to be a teacher. All my decisions thereafter created the path to a teaching qualification, a first teaching post in London, a promotion and then the biggest decision of all – to apply for a teaching job overseas. In Japan no less. Accepting a […]Published on 27th August 2018
Masterminding – Supporting your Success
People buy things because they like the story behind the brand. YOUR story is a key element to your success. Join us as we kick-off the fifth season of the FEW Women's Start-Up Club focusing on the overarching theme of shaping Your Business Story.
FEW Fundraiser Event with Strategic Partner Mom in Balance Tokyo
Start your Sunday with an energetic and fun workout in Yoyogi Park hosted by instructors and FEW members Julie Mangen and Tanja Kinnen from Mom in Balance Tokyo.
October 2018 Members Exclusive Wine Night
Join FEW for our twice-yearly members-exclusive wine night, courtesy of our Strategic Partner Oakwood Premier Midtown. Come along, network, and share your stories around a nice glass of wine in the stunning ambiance of the resident's lounge!
Midweek Lunch Mixer
Take a break from work and join us for delicious food and great networking at our monthly midweek lunch gathering at Blu Jam Cafe in Daikanyama!
Note: The Lunch Mixer will take place on a Wednesday!