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Akiyo is a Japanese American artist and designer in California. She graduated in 2008 with a BS in Graphic Design but soon realized that she missed the tactile nature of working with her hands. She gathered whatever old t-shirts she could find for fabric and hand-sewed her first penguin prototype eventually named Niko. By combining her love for crafting and penguins, she created My Dear Darling – a shop to share her soft sculpture dolls. Her work has since been featured in magazines such as Elle Québec and Stuffed, and has been showcased twice on the pop culture news website, Buzzfeed. She was hand-selected to participate in the group show “Plush You!” in Seattle, Washington along with some of the best talents in the industry. That experience set her ambitions higher to dedicating a whole show around Niko Darling. Her dream has always been to share and connect with other penguin lovers.