ARTIST INTERVIEW: Natsuko of Me & Arrow
Natsuko founded Me & Arrow in 2009. Her first collection began with a single tote bag design, utilizing dead stock fabrics and leathers, and experimenting with color and texture. This project led the longtime vintage fan and color-obsessed Natsuko to establish Me & Arrow. Learning through experience, she familiarized herself with the Los Angeles textile and garment district while the brand slowly developed into a full fledged clothing line with the motto “Simple, Smart, Functional.” The goal of Me & Arrow is to blend with ones everyday life.
Describe the path that led you to the work you do.
Moving to Los Angeles in 2007 was the beginning of my creative journey. Meeting productive, creative people, having access to LA garment districts, while working at a showroom that encouraged me to show my own line, took me on a path I never expected. The timing was strange. It was during the recession – a tough time to change career paths. The only way to make a change was to start your own something. It became a renaissance time for independent women to run small businesses in creative fields. EPCF had a huge impact on a lot of us. It was the pre-Instagram era, and it gave us a place to show our work and meet people, and get the word out. One thing led to another…. Me & Arrow wouldn’t have gotten the jump start it needed to become sustainable without this community of LA ladies.
What would you say is the driving force behind your creative work?
Imagination…Obsession…and Deadline…. My mind tends to wander about and sometimes where it wanders becomes an obsession. My nature is to tend to want to just hang out and chill…. So, it is pretty often, that my imagination and ideas stay inside me. But with Me & Arrow, I have to get things done, so I am forced to manifest my ideas into reality. The stress and pressure of it are no good, but without them, I wouldn’t be able to manifest anything.
Also, I am inspired by friends who are creating things all the time and enjoy doing so. They make me remember it’s time to get things done!
How do you find a balance between practicality and beauty in creation?
Practicality is super-duper important to Me & Arrow as a clothing line.
I think the best compliment is, “I wear your clothes all the time! It’s my go-to!” Although I have a clothing line, I am not much of a “fashion person.” I like simple, plain things, that I can mix and match to create my own style. I like to look good in what I wear, and I like to feel comfortable. I want to dress like myself, so I can act like myself. Beauty is subjective, so I want to provide simple designs that can mix and match to compliment a personal style, that doesn’t scream Me & Arrow.
Do you have a favorite creation
Yes, the Arrow Key Chain! It’s a key fob, so it goes everywhere with me. Every time I see it, I think about the Harry Nilsson song “Me and My Arrow,” and it makes me happy!
Wherever we go,
It’s me and my arrow
Do you think the community is important to creativity?
Yes, in a big, bright city like Los Angeles, having a sense of community is a matter of survival! Being a part of the creative community gives me emotional support and also the creative push that I need. It’s also important for my production. I make everything locally. As small businesses, we support each other, contribute to our local economy, and have less environmental impact.
Did you have any artist or creative person in your family?
None in the traditional creative sense. I grew up in Hokkaido, Japan. It’s a fairly new island that became a part of Japan. In the late 1800’s, there was a big migration from the mainland to Hokkaido, to look for a new life with new opportunity – similar to United States’ history. My parents’ grandparents were of that generation, so coming to the US to searching for something new is definitely in my blood.