In 2008, Akiyo combined her love for crafting and penguins to create the first stuffed animal Darling penguin. She realized this was something that made her smile. She wanted to make more, share them with other penguin lovers, and make them smile. After pitching the idea to her husband, Brandon, he helped name her brand: My Dear Darling. Akiyo was ecstatic!
Since opening My Dear Darling, Akiyo has officially named her penguin, Niko Darling, and has handmade over 200 penguin plush dolls. She’s also added numerous characters to the Darling family and expanded her products to pillows, stationery, apparel, and mug cups. Although every product brings a smile to her face, Akiyo says nothing is as rewarding as working with a client on personalized projects, crafting it specially for someone, and receiving messages that her Darlings are loved in their new home. She’s thankful for all the love & support and does a happy penguin dance every time she receives a Fan Moment photo.
When Akiyo isn’t working on My Dear Darling projects, she’s busy being a mama to her son, Bruce, and dog, Katsu, and a wife to Brandon. Her favorite part of the day is when her little Phamily snuggles up together in the morning and they start the day off with smiles. She shares snippets of her personal life over on the blog because her Phamily is her biggest inspiration. They currently reside in California and hope to travel around the world some day.
3 RANDOM FACTS ABOUT AKIYO:
• white ceramic things and sweets are her weaknesses
• has poufy hair like Hermione but Brandon says it’s more like Hagrid’s
• can do impressions of Louis Armstrong but only a lucky few have heard