Following our interview with CEO Fany Pechiodat of the French website “My Little Paris,” we interviewed the website’s illustrator Kanako Kuno (Kanako).
Fashion Headline (FH): We saw the illustration of Fany Pechiodat in her office. Can you tell us what the illustration is based on?
Kanako: I gave the illustration to Fany for her birthday. I came to Paris in 2005 and was living off work that I was receiving from Japan. I then got an offer to exhibit my works at an art event in Paris, and Fany’s sister Amandine happened to be there. A year after the event, I received a call from Amandine, telling me that she would like to see my work. That’s when I met Fany for the first time. She and her sister came to see me at a cafe for our first meeting.
They told me about the idea for their new business and asked me to take part. They said they wouldn’t be able to pay me initially, but would once business picked up. Some of my friends told me that I should be careful, but I decided it was worth a shot as I had been intending to leave Paris then.
I found out later that Fany had asked her sister to look for an illustrator. Amandine remembered my work after seeing a postcard that I had illustrated. Now that I think about it, it’s like a fairy tale. The work that I do for My Little Paris has changed my life entirely.
FH: Did you think that the business would succeed?
Kanako: I still ask Fany if she had predicted that the business would be so successful, and she tells me that the result was beyond her imagination. As for me, I just lost myself in the work. I worked without pay for the first year, but funnily, I think I had the most fun then.
FH: Initially it was just Fany, Amandine and you?
Kanako: When it was just the three of us, we would hold our weekly meetings at Fany’s apartment while eating pizza. Since, we’ve worked in three different offices, but I think the one we are in now is the environment that I had been dreaming of.
FH: What has changed since the beginning?
Kanako: Even though the business has grown considerably, the atmosphere of the website and the company has not changed. I think this is largely due to Fany’s character and abilities.
I’m glad that I didn’t give up my career as an illustrator. There’s been a lot of drama, but it was all worth it. As for My Little Paris, I don’t think I would have lasted this long if it were anywhere else. I’ve never felt that I wanted to leave.
As a creator, I’m protected by Fany and my colleagues, and they made me the illustrator that I'm now. I’m very proud of the relationships I have with the people at My Little Paris. In terms of personalities, Fany and I are very different, but I can see that she cares for me deeply.
In the past, there was a suggestion to create a team of illustrators, but I didn’t want this. Soon after that, I became overloaded with work, and I was having a tough time. At that time Fany said to me, “We decided together that you would be the only illustrator for the website so when you are having a hard time, you don’t have to take on all the responsibility. You should just tell me when you need support.” Her words reassured me, and it made me very happy. There were times when she sent someone to clean my house, when I didn’t have any time.
FH: What is the reason you have stayed in Paris for so long?
FH: Can you think of anything that might have brought on the good luck?
Kanako: I don’t like to give up. Instead of telling myself that I should quit, I do the exact opposite and keep on going.
I also trust my instincts. Even though people told me to be careful when I first met Fany, somewhere inside me I knew that she could be trusted and that she is a good person. For our first meeting, Fany wore a suit and presented me with her resume. Right then and there I felt her sincerity as she talked about the business she wanted to start up. I’ve met a lot of people since then, but Fany is still one of the most sincere people that I know.
FH: What are the differences between Japan and Paris?
In Paris, I feel that illustrators are respected like any other types of professions. The city is full of creations, and I get inspired by just living here.
FH: Will you continue living in Paris?
Yes. I can’t imagine living anywhere else. What I get to experience at My Little Paris is beyond my dreams. I’ve been living here for 9 years now, but there’s much more that I want to understand about French people.
Kanako Kuno’s Profile:
Graduated from Tama Art University and became an illustrator. Moved to France in 2005. Met Fany and her sister in 2008 and started My Little Paris the same year. Is the sole illustrator for the website. In Aug 2013, her illustrations were exhibited in approx. 1,000 different locations of Paris for the event “Les Parisiens.” On YouTube, a video of her life history is depicted using her illustrations.