Stories

Spicy Brown: Food-Inspired Fun Fashion

When browsing through any store selling Japanese merchandise, it’s not difficult to find cute characters and unique designs. However, Spicy Brown, the producers of many totes and t-shirts, undoubtedly offers some of the cutest and most creative designs on the market.

What began as a friendly conversation about creating a clothing company with a good food twist soon blossomed into a successful business venture. Spicy Brown began when Scott Brown and his fiancee, Laura Takaragawa, were talking to some of their friends who had already started companies of their own. Before they knew it, they stopped joking about it and instead began making serious plans to start a business. Because the couple had worked in the fashion industry and both were crazy about food, they combined their passions and named their company, Spicy Brown, Scott’s nickname. The Spicy Brown website not only features their clothing and accessories; it also features recipes and food facts—mixing food and fashion with fun results.

At the beginning, Scott and his fiancee started off trying to create the designs for their merchandise themselves, but they soon realized that their circle of friends provided a invaluable source of creative talent. Soon, Sachiho Hino Lee and Kazuko Shinoka, two long-time friends who needed to get their own work noticed, began creating their own characters for Spicy Brown. Sachiho had done illustrations for children’s books and had created Hello Kitty designs, while Kazuko had worked as a graphic designer for a toy company and taken classes in fashion design. Scott gives the two designers complete control over their creations, allowing them to select which designs will be produced. The final decision, however, is actually made by customers since their purchases ultimately determine how long each design will stay around.

Scott Brown’s connection with the Japanese American National Museum Store began with, what else, but food! He and his fiancee had been spending lots of time in Little Tokyo eating shabu shabu, and when one of their friends who volunteered at the National Museum suggested that their products would be a great fit at the Museum Store, a match was made! Food had once again inspired their art and their business.

Next time you’re in the Museum Store or you’re browsing through the Museum Store Online, look for Spicy Brown creations. Their characters are cute and creative—with a Japanese flair.

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