06/06/2023Cosplay StoriesNatty Cosplay began cosplaying about 10 years ago, and since then she’s fully embraced the fandom, and found her tribe amongst fellow cosplayers and friends who attend conventions in and around her home state of Florida. Like many of us her journey into cons, and cosplays, began with a push by friends to join them for a trip to a nearby anime con.
Natty recalled, “My friends already got tickets, and they were like “come on book your ticket. We’re going to MetroCon”. And I was like, “You’re right I should. I lived here this whole time, and I never went. It’s almost like I almost forgot, but they reminded me.”
It was at this convention where she debuted her first cosplay, as she tried out the world of anime conventions.
“I just put together a little Poison Ivy cosplay by gluing on a bunch of leaves I had to a bodysuit, and you know we just walked around and had a great time,” Natty said. “I didn’t even delve so much into con culture. I just thought it was a place to shop really. I walked around the vendor area and saw so many booths, comics, and figures, and [other[ things.
As time went on, I found I had more space and time and resources and funds to get deeper into the hobby. That’s when I started being more consistent with it.”
She has continued to delve further into cosplay, and now has quite a variety of cosplays she considers her favorites.
Natty said, “My very favorite one is that first cow cosplay. I did that one for Holiday Matsuri, and we had a cow meet up with other people dressed as cows. That was really fun. We did some pictures, videos, and I passed out little cow treats like candy. That was really fun.”
Natty continued, “My second favorite one is from ‘The Great Jahy Will Not Be Defeated!’The anime is not as popular, but I love it. I dressed up as the Demon Lord. I love that cosplay. She never speaks, and she just eats all the time. It’s such a cute character, and it’s a very funny show.
Lastly Natty mentioned her third favorite cosplay she cosplayed was “Katara from Avatar The Last Airbender.” Natty remarked, “I want to revisit that and get more props for it, but I really had fun in that cosplay too. I want to bring that to a con.”
Natty loved the camaraderie and togetherness she had experienced, and she really wanted to help others find that as well, so she developed her first app “Show Buddy.” Natty recalled, “I launched Show Buddy around 2018. That was to help people find friends to go to concerts and festivals together. I would basically make a listing and curate a bunch of events that were going on in the United States, and have a group chat attached to it so people could sign up, join the group chat for the event and message back and forth. I think it’s still on Google Play, but I had to take it down off the Apple App Store around 2020.
I pulled the app down due to the nature of things at the time, but it was really fun while it was up and running, and I did meet a few people while I was using the app at that time. So it was a great experience, and I might pursue something a little bit more updated in the future.”
Natty took away some key lessons from her experience creating Show Buddy that have informed her about friendship and social hangouts in this day and age.
Natty remarked, “I learned that for some reason, it’s a lot harder for people to make friends and find people with the same hobbies in this day and age. I think a lot of people don’t like going to events alone, and if they have a chance they would rather go with someone. Though there’s nothing wrong with going places alone, I think just that the social atmosphere of things is just really lonely now. And there’s definitely a demand for people that want to meet new people and make new friends while they’re traveling or going to an event.”
When asked if Natty thought this related to conventions too, she replied “Oh yeah, for sure. There’s definitely a demand for with cons too, especially with this type of group, a little bit shy and feel they’re pushing themselves. They’re putting themselves out there, but maybe they don’t have a lot of experience going to places alone. So I can see that being a thing for cons too.”
Though many generations can of course struggle to find friendship and connections, I was wondering if this might be extra challenging for today’s youth.
“I think a lot of people agree,” Natty said. “It feels like more pressure now because on social media, you want to show a really flashy life. You want to not see your truest self sometimes. You kind of put up a perfect snapshot of that moment on your social media compared to what really happened behind the scenes in real life. So I do think that it was a little bit freer back then. It was easier. It was more natural. People liked posting unedited pictures of what they did with their friends for the weekend, whereas now everyone’s maybe pushing a product or something.”
One aspect of cosplays and conventions that Natty really appreciates is how it’s a wonderful space to meet a wide variety of people.
At conventions for instance, Natty said “I’m meeting married couples, families, and kids. It’s interesting but of course cosplay is everyone. It’s all different ages. So it’s nice to meet other people. You sort of just find your tribe and where you fit in.”
Natty stumbled into another fandom that really took her into a new unfamiliar world she then fell in love with. Natty recalled, “When I was younger, I was always searching online for shows on websites that had them hosted free, and I was looking for something and I accidentally clicked on a Korean Drama (K-Drama). It kept coming up, so I was like “I’ll watch this”. And I was so invested. I was like, “Wow, my mind was blown!” I didn’t even know about this culture and this country until I started getting really into that K-Drama. The K-Drama was ‘My Girl’, by the way, super old, but I just fell in love with it.”
Natty really went full steam into her love of Korean culture afer that, and this accidental click would lead her to studying overseas.
Natty remarked, “I was so inspired. I was learning Korean, like very beginning Korean, and my college had a study abroad program for South Korea. So I did a summer abroad at Yonsei International Summer School. And I met so many different people. We had a great time. We were always hanging out together, and it was great.” Natty continued, “ learning so much about the culture and just a different way of life. It was way more advanced, and a lot more convenient.. It had its good and bad , but
I enjoyed all of it. And then I went with my Korean friend to see her family because she was visiting. They were just so kind and generous to me and they gave me so much fruit, which is very expensive. We had to carry this huge bag of fruit back to our dorm. It was like watermelon, strawberries, peaches, all sorts of things, and I was so happy and grateful for that.”
Natty made sure to capture her time over in Korea, and she actually turned this into an eBook for others interested in learning about the country and culture of Korea. “I made a journal for each day,” Natty said. “It’s kind of like a blog with a picture for that day and everything I did. I’m glad I did that because it was for all those three months, so it was really well documented.”
She’s considered revisiting it, and perhaps re-editing parts, and when considering that she revisited many of her entries.
Natty remarked, “I read it and I remembered things that I did that I completely forgot. I had my fortune told, which was very fun. I also went to Japan from South Korea for like three days with a few friends, and that was also so much fun.”
Though Natty missed a lot of what Korea offered when she returned, she has noticed how much the cultural landscape has changed here, and how so many international foods, products, and stores have come over to the U.S. Natty remarked, “Ten years ago when I came back from South Korea, I missed having Korean food and everything, but now I can get that at the tip of my fingers with DoorDash. That did not exist before. Now we have a lotte Mart and so much more coming. So I’m happy about that.” Similarly she’s seen the world of cosplay and fan conventions evolve too, and primarily for the better. Natty said, “I like how much the cosplay space has grown. Now I see all types of shapes and bodies and skin tones and hair textures. Cosplay doesn’t have to be exactly like the picture or the anime. You can make it however you like and be creative with it.”
Now about 10 years on into her fandom, Natty’s continuation with cosplays and conventions just makes sense for her. “It just feels so natural to keep doing this,” Natty remarked. “It’s fun, I love the social aspect, and I would rather be spending my money on that than bills and stuff. So I feel like if I’m working at least I should work for something I enjoy too. So I always make a point to try to get one cosplay item and that keeps me going. I’m just working, but not enjoying myself.”
After slowing down her work on Show Buddy, she continued to embrace her side-hustle side, and she’s used her creativity to work on a new Exchange app. Natty explained, “It’s a listing website where you can post what services you offer in exchange for what service you’re looking for. For example, if you are a hairstylist and you’re looking for a makeup artist, you can post that and contact each other so that you don’t have to pay. You can just exchange that service. It’s kind of similar to Freecycle and other websites that do that. A lot of people do this already. I noticed a lot of people looking for things and they’ll offer their professional services, so I just wanted to make a website listing so that it’s all in one place and you don’t have to make a Facebook post or make a random post elsewhere looking for that.”
Like with cosplay, Natty has gained a lot through her creative efforts working on projects like Show Buddy and now her new Exchange website.
Natty said, “I love having a little side project. I work full-time for a Fintech company, but you know in my free time I do like to put out my websites and thoughts and apps and all of that. And there’s always a place for everything. You always have an audience for everything. It’s just finding the audience. That’s the hard part, but you know you should always do it because you never know what may come out of it.”
Disclaimer: All images and videos used, do not belong to FnC and belong to their respective owners.
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