Kanami Milenković never gave much thought to leaving her home country. It wasn’t until Japan’s turbulent economic situation in the 1990’s when she began to consider other options.
Born in Kobe, Japan, Mrs. Milenković’s parents divorced when she was very young. Dealing with feelings of loneliness, she turned to art. Kanami attended a art high school where she studied painting and graphic design. After working in the design field for seven years, Mrs. Milenković decided to leave Japan to escape the declining economic conditions. She thought studying in the United States would be a good opportunity for her career.
In 1998, Mrs. Milenković moved to New York and began taking ESL classes at LaGuardia Community College. Having been disappointed with the ESL school system, Mrs. Milenković left the program and enrolled at the Pratt Institute to study Publication Art. With her OPT visa, she worked long shifts at a high-end Japanese restaurant—where she had to wear a kimono—to support herself. After years in the field of graphic design, Mrs. Milenković decided to shift her interest to business and went back to school for business management. When she became pregnant, she found a great deal of enjoyment in making crafts, especially hats and jewelry. She took to selling her products at vendors all around New Work.
Currently, Mrs. Milenković continues to handcraft hats and jewelry, selling them at local markets and craft fairs. She lives in Jersey City, New Jersey with her husband and daughter.