Hero Behind the Mask: Meridian Vu

This week I want to introduce you to a new CASUEplayer who is organizing a fund raising event involving cosplay!  She has done fundraising events in the past but this is a new venture for her and I am so glad to share this even with you.  If you are in the Riverside, CA area you should totally check out this event and stop by to support such a good cause.  Please continue reading for more info about the event on August 1st and the cosplayer hosting it! –Mala

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Name: Meridian Vu

Location: Riverside, California

What got you into CAUSEplaying? What keeps you CAUSEplaying? Why did you chose the Salvation Army to benefit from this event? What inspired you to create this event?
I currently work for the Salvation Army, and have been there for a little over 4 years. My job entails sub-managing one of their after school programs, which they call “Hero Club.” In the Hero Club, local children, often from low-income family backgrounds, enroll in the program to receive academic help. In addition to helping kids with their homework, we also feed them a snack and provide playtime and craft activities at the facility. All of these services to the children are provided for them at zero cost.

Other than my main job, sub-managing the after school program, I also help coordinate decor for events (such as VBS, for which I am also Bible teacher), and host small fundraisers (like car washes). As a student at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, loving cosplay and sewing clothing, some of my co-workers has been pushing me to host a fashion show as a fundraiser. However, due to my lack of time, I am not able to design, fit, and make outfits for a full fashion show. It then occurred to me, that with all the cosplay gatherings taking place, I could actually host a cosplay gathering, AS A FUNDRAISER!

What was your first CAUSEplay event?
Causeplay: Cosplay for a Cause, coming August 1st, will be my first CausePlay event: attending and hosting!

What is your favorite costume to wear while CAUSEplaying, and Why?
Not having been to a cosplay event geared towards a cause prior to my upcoming gathering, I have no favorite cosplay! Cosplays I currently own include: Lolita Harley Quinn – D.C., C.C. (outfit from S1 E14) – Code Geass, Gijinka Monomi – Dangan Ronpa, Ib – Ib RPG Maker, and Annie Leonhardt (Titan-human hybrid) – Shingeki no Kyojin.

Most memorable CAUSEplay moment: I’m looking forward to my first CAUSEplay moments come August!

What is your favorite cause to support?
Still new to CAUSEplay, I’m looking into other venues and organizations to contribute to, via these cosplay fundraiser events. I, of course, had chosen the Salvation Army, because, having worked there for several years, I see and know, firsthand, how they have contributed to the community and greatly admire the efforts they take in being true to “Doing the most Good.” Also, being familiar with the venue, and being on the inside, helped me easily organize our upcoming Causeplay Fundraiser.

The silliest/strangest thing you have done for a cause?
Maybe the silliest thing I’ve done for a cause, in general, is host fundraisers at all! In 2011, I started off at Salvation Army as a 15-year-old high school student volunteer, and wanted to do a lot for them, because of how they’d helped me. I actually tried to host a large-scale fun-fair type fundraiser event, managing to maybe get 150 people to come throughout the event duration. Being ambitious, but very young and inexperienced, I tried to do too much by myself, without enough support from a team. After trying to do these types of events about two more times, and trying to improve upon the last experience, I realized the extreme necessity for a good team of people to be working on one event at a time.

It wasn’t until recently, that I’ve built great relationships and made friends in the cosplay community, who I could depend on as a team to help me put this Causeplay Fundraiser together. I definitely couldn’t have gotten this far without them!

Who inspires you?Can I be that stereotypical fangirl for a moment? Yaya Han is definitely of my top inspirations. Aside from people near me, in this community, I find Yaya Han a great inspiration because of where she has built herself to be. Other than being extremely great at creating intricate cosplays, she has also built her online presence to not only sell prints of her cosplays, but enter the modeling industry, as well as business with her cosplay accessories and props. With my fashion and business background, I would love to follow in her footsteps, with little twists of my own.
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Advice for CAUSEplaying
1. Don’t be a hater.
2. Self-depreciating is also being a hater. To yourself. Don’t do that either. (Please!)
3. When choosing whether or not to go to events, don’t let the reputation of the organization to which the cause is benefitting, stop you from attending. Look at what the community of people coming together are actually trying to accomplish, before you decide whether or not to support it!

What CAUSEplay events do you have coming up?
Since we’re still planning for August 1st, as our first event, we have not yet ventured to other dates. But are presumably looking at a pre-fall or a pre-Christmas event next!

Other than CAUSEplay events, we will be exhibiting at Anime Expo, 626 Night Market August and September, Comikaze Expo, and Akihabara Expo.

Do you prefer to be called a cosplayer or costumer?Cosplayer, definitely! For some reason, I feel like “cosplay” is different from “costume,” maybe in that, there is more to cosplay as a subculture, than costume. Semantics and connotations aside, I personally love to cosplay to usurp character roles. It feels empowering in that I can play a part as my favorite characters, and challenge myself to create the outfits that embody that character.

What was your first costume/cosplay?
My first time cosplaying, I was Gasai Yuno at AX 2013 (unless you count a closet Amane Misa at AX 2011, also my first con).

Also, being new to cosplay (though my first official was in 2013, I had a house fire the week after, so I had a major setback in attempting anything cosplay, having lost absolutely everything in the fire and having to start over from complete scratch), I don’t have many cosplays to begin with. It was only in September 2014, that I actually started cosplaying more, after having gathered new materials and enough supplies to make anything again.

Can you tell us about developing a relationship with the business and organization involved?
I guess I got it easy, being that my boyfriend and I (with the help of our great team of friends) run Anime Charms, and I work at the Salvation Army!

Will this become a regular event?
With the traction we’ve been getting, with many people getting hyped for this first event, and our team of great friends putting this together, we’d love for this to be a recurring event! We’ll probably be sticking with the Salvation Army for a while, because of my personal affiliation with the organization and inside experience and ease of access to the venue; however, as this event grows, we would love to venture out and be able to contribute to many other causes.

What advice do you have if someone wants to create an event like this?
Unlike most people, I am very lucky to be closely affiliated with an organization to whom I can trust contributing to, whilst having inside access to the venue and putting it together. For those who want to start events like this, a team of close friends you can depend on is ESSENTIAL.

Finding who you want to contribute to, would be the first step, and doing research on what the organization does, and how much they actually give back to the community, given your contribution is very important!
Establishing a relationship with the organization is also key; after you’ve chosen your organization, speak with someone who does in charge of their fundraising and ask if they will help you host an event for them. It would be good to define exactly what the cause is, so that people attending the event understand where their money would be contributing towards, and how much of it actually is used towards that cause.
Then next step would be finding a venue to host the event at, if the organization you want to contribute to does not have a facility to accommodate a gathering. Finding a facility, such as at a community center instead of a convention center or hotel, would help, as renting space would probably cost lower, if they know the event is going towards a cause, instead of personal profit.

Creating a facebook event page, and other venues for getting the word out via social media is also pretty key. Word of mouth is powerful, and with social media, word can spread fast! We hosted a photoshoot with our cosplay friends to help us have more photos to post to instagram and other social media in order to constantly shoutout each other and the event coming up!

In creating the event itself, have activities that cosplayers would like to participate in, such as games, contests, and photo opportunities. Having prizes help as well! Keeping the initial costs low attract many people, and raising “prices” as events repeat can happen if the event becomes popular enough.
Overall, have fun coming up with ideas on how to entertain everyone, as well as talking to people at other gatherings and events to talk about your upcoming fundraiser. Connecting with people is key to getting everyone excited about going and wanting to support!

What is your day job (a.k.a. how I pay for my expensive hobby)?
It may seem like working at the Salvation Army would take a ton of my time (which it does) as it is! But I do have other “jobs” outside of working there, or being a college student. I also currently run Anime Charms, a business my mom helped me start up, selling licensed anime products. I have no current store front, but sell items online and at local cons and events.

My boyfriend (whom I so fatefully met an anime convention), has definitely helped me a ton with this! We’ve expanded our social media presence and diversified our brand to encompass more than “that random booth at a con.”
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If you could have any job what would it be and why?
I would love to cosplay as my job! (Yaya Han is a great inspiration!) I always look up to famous cosplayers and people around me working on their cosplays, and admire their efforts so much! But I would definitely love to make a career out of this passion. Both my boyfriend and I look forward to growing Anime Charms into more than just an Anime gift shop ~ looking to run a manga library cafe/lounge setting, providing a hangout spot for cosplayers and people of the Anime (and other fandoms) community and being able to meet more people and make friends with common interests. We also hope to grow that to accommodate for my fashion interests to release clothing lines with japanese inspiration, as well as cosplay lines!

Tell us something random about yourself: My favorite sport is knife throwing 😉

Star Wars or Star Trek: Star Trek; because Spock. (no further explanation needed)

Marvel or DC: DC ~

Favorite Comic Series: Anything Harley, puddin’!

Favorite Comic Character: Harley Quinn for the win!

Favorite Book: ARTEMIS FOWL!!!! DISNEY: MOVIE. WHEN?!

Favorite Video Game: Runescape – the first and only MMO I’ve played. Shout outs to cooking swordfish!

Favorite Anime Series: I definitely loved Sailor Moon and Pokemon growing up! Code Geass and Madoka Magica have made it to my favorite “classics” (which are more recent, than say stuff from decades ago). Recently, I’ve really loved Psycho Pass!

Favorite Anime Character: I love all the “badass characters” ~ Erza Scarlet from Fairy Tail, Lelouch VI Britannia from Code Geass, and Gasai Yuno (a.k.a. Yandere Queen-sama) from Mirai Nikki.
Favorite Convention: My bias would gear me towards Anime California, since that’s where I took my boyfriend’s picture, leading him to find it online and talk to me on Facebook. Comikaze Expo is where I first officially met him and started talking to him, giving me very fond memories of that expo, but the small, yet close-knit feel that Anime California gave me is definitely a win ~
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Affiliations (clubs or groups): Is there anything I’m not involved in?! I have personal accounts, as well as accounts for our Anime Charms business. We’re still building up on stuff for Causeplay: Cosplay for a Cause, so we just have an facebook and event page, for now.

Instagram: @Anime_Charms @Meraidiosyncrasy

Youtube: N/A Meraidiosyncrasy

Facebook:  facebook.com/AnimeCharms facebook.com/Meridian.Vu

Twitter: @Anime_Charms N/A

Website/Blog AnimeCharms.com http://animecharms.wix.com/meridianvu

Causeplay event page:
https://www.facebook.com/events/437768576398476/
https://www.facebook.com/CauseplayForACause

Emails:
MeridianVu@Gmail.com
AnimeCharms@Gmail.com

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