Kira Harada-Stone

kira

 

 

 

 

“When I first came to New York in my girlie dresses,” Hawaiian native Kira Yoshiko Harada-Stone remarked when I complimented her colorful ensemble, “I felt like I stood out because everyone is more sleek and chic in their darker colors.” We laughed as Kira’s yellow, daisy-embroidered blouse contrasted against the sea of black tops and jeans on the warm September day as we chatted in Union Square Park.

 

A 20-year-old fashion journalism major in NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, Kira is a long way from her home, Waimea, Hawaii. The relaxed Hawaiian pace of life moves much more slowly than Kira’s current schedule that involves looking for internships, editing, and classes. But Kira is embracing cosmopolitan life and preparing for her Editor-in-Chief-style penthouse (plus some adorable corgis!) in the near future.

 What made you want to move?

Hawaii is the place you go to relax, which means it’s boring if you’re there all the time. In the kind of the town I’m from, people viewed it as if you stayed in Hawaii, you weren’t doing anything with your life.

You chose to move to New York City because it was the best place to pursue fashion journalism. Is it what you expected?

First time I came here for a visit, I loved it. We saw Broadway shows, the food was amazing, everything was shiny and the people are so beautiful here with the best clothes. It’s just so majestic (laughs.) But living here as a journalist, you see that it’s not so glamorous. I thought I would come here and instantly get an internship at Vogue, but it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.

You recently transferred to the Gallatin School of Individualized Study within NYU. What’s it like?

 There are some people there to be creative, and some rich kids that are just wasting their parents’ money and doing whatever they want. I met one girl studying “Feminism Through Classic Paintings” and I just don’t get how that’s a job! I guess there are a lot of jobs that you don’t need specific majors for. But I feel that there are a lot of people doing fashion journalism, which makes me feel like I’m one of the serious students.

What has being the Web Editor at Gallatin’s fashion magazine, Embodied, taught you?

I went into it originally thinking I wanted to be a writer. But now I realize I want to be an editor. I don’t see myself going into the street to interview someone as a reporter. And as an editor, I would really like to see a change in the way body image is handled in the media, magazines specifically.

 Your parents were supportive of you attending NYU Gallatin. Was it hard for your family to have you move so far away?

Not really. My parents are together 24/7, but I’ve never even seen them hug before. We’re not that close, and I was never really that close to [my sister]. I was excited because everyone says that as you get older, you become closer to your siblings. But when I was able to see her as a separate person than my sibling, I didn’t like her.

Do you feel connected to your cultural background, especially being half-Japanese on your mom’s side?

My grandma used to take us to a Shinto temple. But once she died and I became a teenager, I refused to go, saying that my parents were “forcing a religion on me.” I go with the fact that I’m racially ambiguous, and I just keep it at that. I’m not too connected with any cultural things of my own.

Has that ambiguous feeling helped you adjust to New York City’s diverse culture?

 It made it less of a shock a more pleasant transition to a city where there are so many different cultures. I’m thankful that I have the opportunity to be somewhere that I can see so much of the world represented.

 How do you feel, being in New York City by yourself?

I’m in a young person limbo where I don’t really have a home. But I’m not too scared about it; I know I’ll have a place at some point. I just want a nice place where I can get a corgi. I‘m a big dog person.

You picked up and moved from your home at 17 and took on city life very bravely. Is there anything that does scare you?

 I really don’t like earthquakes, if we’re talking literally. I freak out a lot when anything shakes because of the subways! A less literal fear would be that I’m falling behind, especially seeing the celebrities at NYU. They were more accomplished than me when they were in diapers.

Do you think you’ll stay in such a competitive environment as New York City or go back to Hawaii?

In a perfect world, I would be the Editor-In-Chief of my own magazine by 27, then retire and move to the countryside. But I don’t see myself going back to Hawaii. I like being able to get in a car and go to another state. I like the idea that if I don’t want to stay in a certain place, I can leave. I want to know that’s an option.

So, when you make it as Editor-In-Chief of, let’s say, Kira Fashion, and retire, what will you do?

My best friend and I discussed this when we were little. We said we would get two penthouse apartments that somehow had a bridge between them so we could go visit each other in our pajamas. But past that, I don’t know! I can’t imagine myself getting old or with a wrinkle. I’ve just kind of left my plan at 32. It might be nice at some point to have a house with a picket fence, but not right now. At the moment, I just want to be like Anna Wintour and devote myself to my dog and my work.