Neko-jin Designs

make music. find love. live happy.

Celebrating! With a little help from our friends. ^_^
Hi! If you’re reading this, chances are we’re friends. Even if you’re a customer of ours, you're probably still a friend; we run a small, intimate business and many of our repeat customers have become like friends, and even family, over the years.

So as a friend, I’m asking for a little help. It’s hard for me to do--asking for help. I’m kind of stubborn, definitely a workhorse, and tend to shoulder the burden myself rather than beg for alms.

Since we made most of our friends through work, which takes us all over the country, it didn't really make sense to have a wedding. We knew there was no conceivable way to invite everyone we would want to be there and expect people to be able to attend. Our friends are scattered throughout the country. They’re in California, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Missouri, North Carolina, Alabama, Texas, Illinois--even those of you who are local insomuch as you’re in New England are busy with work and life and traveling to conventions. It would have been awesome to gather you all together in one place to help us celebrate our twelve years together with an honest-to-goodness-finally-sanctioned-by-the-state wedding…but realistically, it wasn't going to happen. And we’re cool with that. So this past November, we squeezed in a tiny not-quite-a-ceremony between traveling from one convention to another and called it good.

I’d like to make up for the lack of celebrating with one kick ass honeymoon, but in order to do that I need a little help. I want to take my new wife to Emerald City Comic Con in March. I want to go to a convention for fun (gasp!) and enjoy the sights and sounds of a city without worrying about when I have to set up a booth and whether or not it’s going to be a good show. Since we opened the business seven years ago, we've done upwards of 150 shows in 18 different states. Just the two of us, making all our merchandise, racking up the miles.

I’d love a little break. I’d love some time to enjoy my wife. I’d love to be at a con as a raging fan, not a business owner. I want to drink too much coffee not because the work hours are outrageous, but because I’m having too much fun to sleep. I want to geek out.

If everyone reading this donated even the minimum amount they could spare, we’d be well on our way. This won’t happen without a little help from our friends.

Thank you for reading this, for being there for us, and for generally being awesome. We really appreciate you and can’t wait to see you again--whichever state that happens to be in. :)

If you can help us by donating, we’ve put together a donation pool with all the details here: Our Superhero Honeymoon.

Thank you so much. We love you guys.

Kit (& neko)

Celebrating New Beginnings at the End of the Year
too tired
Good Evening!

As I sit down to write the last newsletter of the year, I can’t help reflect on all the amazing things that have happened over the past twelve months. I’m sitting at my new desk, comfortably back in NJD’s home base of Maine, drinking a homemade mocha made with some seriously spicy chocolate. It’s been snowing on and off and even though I know I’m eventually going to have to unearth my car, everything’s currently beautiful and quiet. You know, what they say is totally true: Life is Good.

We have a lot to celebrate this year and not just the move back to Maine (though that was all sorts of joyous--not the actual moving part, but the coming home part). We’re six years in and NJD is still going strong, despite economic ups and downs. We’ve said our farewells to a few conventions and we’ve built friendships with new ones; change in life is the only true constant, and I’m really optimistic about some of the new opportunities that we’ll be embracing in 2014. It means a lot to us that you’ve stuck with us this far and have supported us--whether we’ve met in person or communicated online, I want you to know that every customer, including you, isn’t just a customer. You’re the reason we can keep doing what we do and we really do appreciate it. You’re pretty fantastic. :)

Perhaps the biggest reason to celebrate 2013 is that, after twelve years of being together, I was finally able to marry the woman I love. Go equality! I have a grand deal to be thankful for this year and even more to be optimistic about. I hope that wherever this finds, that it finds you well. Even if 2013 wasn’t a fantastic year for you, I have my fingers crossed that 2014 will bring bigger and grander things to us all. :D

On that note, I’d love to share some of my happiness with you--let’s celebrate the coming year together in style!

* Beginning now and extending through to January 5th, 2014, all US orders placed through will ship at a flat rate of $6. On top of that, each order will receive a small additional (surprise!) token of our appreciation. Because we really do appreciate you. <3

* We’ve recently leveled up! We can now accept Gift Certificates through! Super easy to purchase and redeem, the only requirements are a Paypal account and a love for our adorable stuff. You can learn more here. And don’t forget, we also offer gift wrapping services if you’re buying a gift of the more tangible variety.

* Do you Fandom? We do! Among other things, we’re super-crazy-in-love with comics, Supernatural, and sci-fi shows from the 90s. We’re pretty passionate in our geekery; to celebrate this love with others, we’ve opened a Fandom-centric extension through our pal, Etsy. As part of our grand opening extravaganza, I’d like to gift you with a coupon good for 10% off your purchase. Just type in THANKS2U when checking out at The Perfect Cup!

I mentioned a while back on Facebook that I’d love kick the whole shindig off in true party style with tea and cookies. And you know what? I totally am. I’m being completely sincere when I tell you that any order placed between now and the 5th of January will include a cookie and a cup of tea. :) has been completely restocked with awesome new items and plenty of old favourites. A good way to wind down the old year and welcome the new.

Yours with love,

- A contented Kit (& a busy neko)

2 Legit 2 Quit!
I probably could have come up with a more fitting title for the next two weeks we’ll be traveling more or less non-stop, but I was high jacked by my youth at the last second and, admittedly, there’s a bit of good, old-fashion funky feeling in the studio this week as we pull everything together for our East Coast road trip.

There’s so much awesome happening between today and The Big Day, which, of course, is Otakon. It’s a convention I’ve had my share of mixed feelings about over the years; however, when the vibe is good and the groove is on and crappy con politics are left at the door, it’s an excellent experience for us. Despite last year being kind of a bust for reasons I won’t get into, I have all the optimism in the world for this year. It’s gonna be awesome. You know how I know? Because I’m not taking no for an answer. I’m bringing a good attitude, a carload of new merchandise, and my dancing shoes. And that’ll have to do.

You should check us out. We’ll be grooving at booth AA09, along the wall across from the entrance. And if you stop by and pull some MC Hammer moves that are 2 Legit 2 Quit, I’ll give you 10% off your entire purchase with Neko-jin Designs. I’m not even joking. Are you cool enough to bust a move like that? I think you might be.

Joining us for our fun-fest in Baltimore for the second year in a row is a wonderful pal of ours, Kori Michele, creator of the queer love comic, Prince of Cats. If you aren’t familiar with it already, you should totally check it out. Kori will be selling some sweet merchandise related to their comic, along with other queer friendly swag by other creators in the field.

AA09 is the place to be this year!

But before we can get in on all that excitement, neko and I will be doing another show this weekend a little off the beaten path. We’ll be showcasing talent on the comic end of the spectrum at Boston Comic Con. Along with parody pieces that leave no question to where our loyalties lie (Batman*coughcough*Robin), it will be a rare opportunity to purchase and commission original work from my lovely lady. Unlike anime conventions that can be fast paced and hectic, we anticipate some down time at BCC, making it a prime time to chat with us. And I’m not gonna lie. I love comics. You want to talk Batman, Superman, the Flash, Green Arrow, Teen Titans and I’m there--with spandex and fingerstripes. If you come by and talk to me, it’ll keep me from spending all the money we make on the nifty stuff we’re surrounded by. Seriously. You’d be doing me a favor. So come hang out with us!

We’ll be in the artist alley at table AA834.

It’s going to be a rousing couple of weeks, but we’re really stoked! Despite the go-go-go! of it all, I think a great time will be had by all.

Especially if you remember your dancing shoes.

See you on the flip side!

Let’s talk about discrimination!
unclear-cut &gt;.&lt;
Aside from work related stuff, I don’t spend a heckuva lot of time perusing the internet. If I’ve got time to spare, I can generally be found between the pages of a well-worn book. To be honest, the internet depresses me. It’s a bit like the news, which I stopped watching when I moved out of my parents' place over a decade ago; people tend to focus on the negative and it makes the world seem like an aggressive entity out to crush your hopes and aspirations for a better tomorrow like a gnat. And when it’s not the news itself, it’s the comments attached, the reading of which can promptly destroy any faith I had left in the integrity of the human race as a whole.

I keep up with some things—the fight for equality, for example. Too many people think it’s just a bunch of queers fighting for the right to say ‘I do’, but it’s more than that. It’s fighting for the right to be viewed as a person, the right to be able to hold our partner’s hand without the looks of disgust, without legitimately fearing for our safety simply because we happen to look or love or identify outside of society’s rigid little box. Gaining the right to marry, along with all the equal measures attached, gains us respect. See, most of us don’t want to be special. We don’t want notoriety. What we really want is for all the words in the queer spectrum to become so common that nobody thinks twice about them anymore. That’s what winning the right to marry is really all about, at least from my perspective. It doesn’t just give me the right to be recognized as the most important person in my partner’s life; it shows people that we aren’t special. And we certainly aren’t anything to be afraid of.

When I do read articles and, despite my sanity, the comments section, I get the overwhelming feeling that the people fighting hardest to keep the queer community in second class citizen status are either 1.) misinterpreting the hell out of the bible or 2.) under the impression that things like discrimination don’t exist.

Because we’re better than that, right? As a society, haven’t we evolved? Things like racism petered out with the abolition of segregation, misogyny died with suffrage, and the queer community is collectively imagining the disrespect we encounter, regardless of the fact that it has, too many times to count, had fatal consequences. Right? It’s 2013. We can’t possibly still be squabbling over such superficial differences.

This mentality always makes me cringe. Not because I don’t wish so much that it was true, but because it’s so far from being the truth.

There are people who roll their eyes when someone calls discrimination. The idea, I suppose, is ‘just because the person wronged was _____ , doesn’t mean it was a discriminatory act’. I suppose that’s technically true. There is a certain amount of ‘wrong place, wrong time’ that we can chalk up to chance. But I want to point out as someone who has gone through their life dealing with discrimination of various kinds that we can’t be certain of that because we’ve dealt with it so much already.

Sometimes the discrimination is obvious. Like all the delightful times in my youth that I was called a variety of colourful slurs like ‘fag’ and ‘queer’ (before we apparently reclaimed it as a community), and sometimes it’s more subversive. Like the time we were in North Carolina for a convention and very nearly got denied service at a restaurant for ‘looking gay’. Or that the reason we don't do certain conventions anymore is because, while nearly naked underage looking anime girls are fine and dandy, people were having a fit about our cute queer kissing couples.

It even happens in our personal circles by people who claim to care about us. Back in 2006, neko and I filed for our domestic partnership license in Maine. It was the closest we could get to being legally married at the time and we wanted to solidify our relationship as much as possible. Not being religious people, we forwent the ritualistic aspects of marriage and decided to throw an intimate celebration with immediate friends and family instead. Interestingly, very few people in attendance have ever referred to it as our wedding. It’s been called a ‘party’, a ‘celebration thing’, along with a host of other synonyms. But wedding? Not so much.

It bothered us for a long time and made us wonder—what made people shy away from the word? Because we lacked the ritual? The altar? The vows? We didn’t want to think it was because we were gay, but I’d be lying if the thought didn’t cross our minds more than once. Without asking people specifically, we’ll never know for sure. I know it would be easy for an outsider to say it was because of a reason other than our orientation, but they have even less ways of knowing than we do. And when you’ve gone through your life with people tripping over the word ‘girlfriend’ or ‘partner’, it’s not a long shot to imagine they’d have an issue getting out words like ‘wedding’ and ‘wife’.

People who shall remain nameless have even introduced us as sisters (!). When it comes to awkwardly beating around the bush, I’ve pretty much heard it all. Yet and still, there are people who like to tell me that my interpretation of discrimination in certain situations is me simply looking for trouble.


In all honesty, it usually takes a while for the ‘did that happen because I’m queer?’ question to even form in my mind. It’s certainly not the conclusion I jump to immediately. So when we got blatantly singled out in a store the other day by a casual acquaintance of ours who smiled to our faces while she filled our order and then proceeded to charge us double for the items (even after I asked her if that was the correct price and she assured me it was) we both just assumed she’d made a legitimate mistake. Calling the store today for something completely different, we price checked the merchandise on a whim and realized the error. I thought, ‘hey, she must be new’ and shrugged it off.

Only the young man who refunded us the difference made us privy to the fact that she’s worked there for five times longer than he has and ‘couldn’t understand how that could have happened’.

So I’m standing there and the reality slowly sinks in that it wasn’t a mistake. Maybe if she had pressed the wrong button, but she had quoted us the inflated price before she got to the register. And to top it all off, what showed up on the receipt wasn’t even the same item that we got; it had been manually altered. So what I’m saying is this—the margin of accidental error is next to zero. Meaning, she did it purposefully.

But why? Try as we might, neko and I can’t think of a thing we’ve ever done to offend her. We see her at conventions. I think she’s even bought from us. So what’s the problem?

I won’t know for certain without asking her, but what I do know is this: when someone smiles sweetly to my face then proceeds to knowingly wrong me without giving any indication that I’ve done something that they take issue with, it eventually leads me to wonder if it’s not something I’ve done, but what I am.

And by that, I mean queer.

These are the kinds of things that those of us who have been the target of pointless spite or anger are forced to consider. For the most part we don’t go around seeking circumstances to cry ‘discrimination!’. It’s a conclusion we come to when we realize that there’s really no other explanation for behavior that so rudely defies the norm.

Could she have just made a mistake? Sure. But the probability after speaking with her coworkers and manager leads me to believe that it wasn’t, especially when I specifically asked her about the elevated price.

This leaves me in a strange spot. Next time I see her and she proceeds to make small talk, do I simply ask her? I don’t know her very well and the situation has left me feeling wary; after all, would I trust anything she says, anyhow? Chances are, I’ll see her at another convention. The tiny voice of spite that was carefully cultivated through my adolescence and remains resilient to my current Buddhist practice says that when she comes to buy at my booth again, I should charge her double.

I won’t, of course, because I’m more mature than that, but the temptation is there.

I suppose what this all boils down to is this: discrimination does still exist, despite how much we wish to believe we have advanced beyond it. When someone relates an experience that they feel may have been racist, sexist, or otherwise discriminatory, please resist the urge to shrug it off. The majority of us don’t say these things lightly. We give it a lot of thought and it’s only through years of experience that we draw these conclusions. Just because it hasn’t happened to you doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen.

Despite my experience, I don't wish this person any ill will. The next time I need something, though, I will be driving twenty miles out of my way to ensure better customer service.

Until next time,

Buy a keychain, support a wedding. ♥
Hey there, everyone. I'd like to share a sentimental moment with you, if you don't mind.

Kit & I have been together since 2001. Fresh from college it was Summer romancin' that led to Fall-ing in love and a Winter of my content had us Spring back to Summer again.

A mere handful of years later, we're still happy, creative, and in love. Back in our beloved state of Maine, where we can be married at long last, I want to take th proverbial plunge but I need a little help to make that dream a reality.

For every NJD keychain you purchase, you're not only showing your affection for a unique group of original characters, or assisting a small business to evolve and grow, you're helping us gather the funds we need for the fees and licences to be a legitimately joined couple in the states which currently acknowledge and accept us.

Neko-jin Designs is our life. We love what we do, and every time we have your support it just makes us so happy! And the greatest happiness I can imagine now is not having anymore excuses to not do the thing I want to do!

Keychains are only $5 each + shipping [$3 if you're in the United States, $7 if you're located anywhere else, for any quantity of keychains].

They're double-sided, so you can choose up to 2 characters. You can even choose your favourite cats, foxes or dragons, too! We want you to be happy, after all!

If you're interested, leave a comment or send us an e-mail: !

Share this with your friends if you think they might be interested, too!

Thank you so much for your continued support, everyone! I hope to hear from you soon!

~ neko

Love should be all you need, right?
unclear-cut &gt;.&lt;

I'm sure many of you have seen this already, but I find it relevant to our liberal stance on love at Neko-jin Designs. This video does the best job of anything I've seen attempting to relate what it's like to grow up as something the general public has been brainwashed to believe is 'wrong'.

Usually when I try to explain how I was bullied and made to believe I was a crime against nature, how it took me over a decade to stop being angry and learn to love myself, I get a shoulder shrug and an 'oh, yeah, I was picked on, too', which as a response, aside from lacking basic human compassion, goes a long way in showing that they don't get it.

It was more than just name calling, being spit on, and finding homophobic slurs written in the dust on my car's rear window. I had people who loved me telling me that I wouldn't be bullied if I stopped 'flaunting it' like it was my fault that I had fallen in love with a girl.

This video touches on all of the things I remember most about high school in a way that I hope opens up more than a few judgmental eyes and maybe, just maybe, stops people from shrugging it off when someone is open enough with them to relate their story.

It's not easy to watch; it shouldn't be. For many of us, it wasn't (and still isn't) easy to live through.

At NJD, we firmly believe in the freedom to love. It's my hope that perhaps this has opened a few closed minds and closed a few grossly opinionated mouths that continue to vociferously preach against being queer, not realizing (or not caring) how that negativity affects us as a community of human beings attempting to coexist.

I have so much respect for the people who made this happen. It shouldn't have been necessary to take it to such an extreme to prove a point, but some people will only understand when a topic is shown from their point of view.

Take care of each other, kits and kats,

A Candid Moment with Kit
things don&#39;t suck
I've had a lot on my mind lately. And by lately, I mean the last couple years. I've made lists of things to talk about, journals I meant to write, points I wanted to bring up, facts and figures and a laundry list of business related stuff that's been taking up space in my brain.

I wrote some of them, scrapped most of them. And you know why? The majority of them were unerringly negative.

I'm not a negative person. Like anyone, I have my moments, but I don't camp out under a black cloud. Generally speaking, I'm an optimist. Spiritually, I'm a Buddhist, holding the firm belief that like begets like (karma's not a bitch if you aren't). So I like to smile and take life as it comes--dealing with the bad as it happens, learning from it, and being grateful for the good.

I have a very simple philosophy: Be good and do good.

But there have been aspects of business over the past couple of years that haven't been good. In fact, they've been pretty bad. It's not the 'state of the economy' as so many would say, it's really the state of people that's giving me a hard time. When given the choice, so many of them choose not to do good and their actions have consequences that tumble dominoes and eventually have an impact on me as a person, and me as a business.

I'll be the first to admit it put me in a cynical state of mind for a while. Simply put, we kept getting screwed. Apologies weren't forthcoming. No one took responsibility, increasing our frustration. Continuing to smile in the face of it became difficult. It was hard not to become jaded and bitter.

After all, many of our issues weren't simple oversights on the parts of certain convention coordinators and customers, but blatant disrespect. I'm not going to point fingers, cite events, or name names. It doesn't solve anything. But I can tell you it's been the major reason, aside from the unwanted perception of sounding overly negative, that things have been so quiet around here for so long.

I'd like to get back to talking about the fun side of business again, to finding the singular highlight at a convention, to finding the good in others. I'd like to be able to trust certain individuals again.

The high points of last year were fantastic and the low points almost made me lose faith in the anime community altogether. So far, 2013 has been good for us. I sincerely hope that the issues that plagued us in 2012 have been resolved, or the people in question have decided to be good and do good.

Here's hoping.

With affection,

Sale time! Buy 3 items from our Jewelry section, get 1 free!
coffee pup
We like to give things away. Those of you who have been with us awhile know it's true--it's such a fantastic feeling to be able to make someone happy and we like to do it as often as we can!

What better time than now? With the holidays hot on our heels, we want to reward you for shopping with us by giving you a little something in return.

As a gesture of gratitude for buying with our humble little family-based business and supporting us through the long, cold winter ahead, when you buy three pieces from the Jewelry section of for the next five days you get one free!

And you know what's better? You can do it more than once. Buy six pieces, get two free! Nine pieces? Three free! How nifty is that? Think of how many gifts you can tick off your list--or heck, buy gifts for your friends and keep the free ones for yourself! We even offer gift wrapping service to make the whole thing effortless!

It's not random--you get to choose! The only stipulation is that the free pieces you pick have to be of equal or lesser value of the lowest priced item in your order. (So if you buy three items at $10, $15, and $12, your free item has to be $10 or less, capiche?)

Our new and improved jewelry section contains not just a fantastic selection of earrings and necklaces, but also hair sticks and clips, tarot card accessories, gaming gear, neo-victorian steampunk inspired goodness, and bracelets!

Know what else is cool? With the revival of our new website, all earrings now have the option of custom earwires, so virtually anyone can wear them!

Surgical steel is safe for most people

Plastic earwires are available for those who are intolerant or allergic to all metals

• And the clip-on option means you don't even need pierced ears to enjoy our awesome selection! Clip-ons are $2 more as they're more for us to make, but think of the freedom they offer you! Never look longingly at our earrings again--now you, too, can indulge!

It's Wednesday--hump day--and we know it can be a tough time of the week. So why not let this be the highlight of an otherwise blah day? It's the best excuse you'll find to treat yourself and others. All from the comfort of your home. Or office. Or wherever you happen to be--but no lines, right? That's gotta count for something. -_^

Remember--all of our jewelry is handmade and many of them are one of a kind! Buying early means less regret!

Sale ends Monday, December 10th.

Let the shopping extravaganza begin!

Warm holiday hugs,
-Kit & neko

Movie Rec: Elektra
Since neko introduced me to the wonders of western comics a year and a half ago, we've been systematically watching the cinematic representations regardless of whether or not we're familiar with the printed work.

Last night, we watched Elektra. I'll admit to being a little gun shy--I really disliked Daredevil [with which it's supposedly intertwined] and was afraid that this one would follow suit.

It didn't. I know it got really poor ratings and reviews, but I'm honestly stumped as to why. We both thought it was fantastic. The lead was a strong female who had more honest chemistry with what I'm going to call her female 'successor' than she did with the obligatory male love interest [that I'd lay money on was thrown in simply to keep people from being uncomfortable with her unapologetic independence]. It's one of the first movies I've walked away from thinking 'I could slash those women without even blinking', as generally female relationships in popular media are portrayed as too overly dependent, platonic, or competitive for me to view it as such.

The plot was subtle, the directing beautiful, the acting pretty swell. I have no idea if it's faithful to the comics as I've never read them, but as one uninitiated in the world of Elektra, I was very pleased.

They were artistic with the death scenes; there was no gratuitous gore, blood, or severed human parts, which I really appreciated. I thought the villains maintained that slightly over-the-top air necessarily to translate the comics element without being unnecessarily overdone.

And most of all? The director trusted me enough to allow me to suss out the details on my own. Not everything was in my face. It was subtle, beautiful, and something I would recommend to anyone. Especially if you're tired of the typical portrayal of women in popular media.

Seriously, though. I thought she was going to kiss the girl at the end. And the best part was, the movie had been set up in such a way that she could have actually done it and I wouldn't have been surprised.

Well, I would have, but for very different reasons. ^_^


We just need one more push!
too tired
We're in desperate need of your help! In order to have our grant application reviewed [just reviewed--there's no guarantee we'll get it!] we need a total of 250 votes for our business at Mission Small Business. We're currently at 213 and only need 37 more to qualify--but we only have until June 30th!

Maybe you're wondering what we'd do with this kind of money. We've been thinking pretty hard about it, too, and here's what we've come up with:

1. We'd buy in bulk! This kind of financial assistance would allow us to buy in such a quantity as to lower our cost on most things, meaning less we'd have to charge our customers. Everything from bags to jewelry supplies--as well as some items we haven't been able to purchase due to the quantities that are required for a single order.

2. Open a studio space! Heck, maybe even a store front! How exciting would that be? Having a separate space [that's not just our apartment!] would mean being able to make enough of things to always have on hand, which would be a big help to our poor, neglected webstore.

3. Speaking of webstore...we'd hire a happy and capable individual to keep up with our website! It's one of the few areas that gets neglected due to low resources and manpower. We'd both love the chance to keep it fully stocked and active for all the wonderful people out there who can't make it to our conventions.

4. And speaking of assistants, we'd love to hire a second team to travel to conventions sporting NJD's awesome stuff! Every year we're forced to pick and choose which cons we can attend, limited by the number of people [there are only two of us!] we have on staff, and the unfortunate fact that some cons fall on the same weekend. It's our goal to reach a broader audience in 2013. This would make that possible.

And this is just the beginning! If you've got a Facebook, we need your help to make these dreams and more come true. It's simple and quick and instant good karma! Here's what you do:

1 - go to

2 - click SUPPORT [to login with your Facebook info!]

3 - type in Neko-jin Designs

4 - click search

5 - click VOTE

- optional, but highly appreciated -

6 - click SHARE VOTE

7 - click SHOW PLEDGE

Anyone with a Facebook can vote! It would mean the world to us if you could rally your friends and family to help us achieve our goal. We're so close. We just need one more push!

Thank you!
-Kit & neko

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