I've been in a bit of a creative slump lately!! If you are a creative person, you know this struggle very well. I know it is temporary and I have some ideas in my brain that I want to work on! So I'll get to it! Thankfully, I've received some more digital interview answers back from people! I'm so excited to share these entries with you.
This week's mini interview is with one of the owners of a kawaii shop that opened it's doors to their physical shop last year after a lot of hard work. Let's get going!
Kal - Co-Owner of KuroShiro Kawaii
Kal's Instagram: @kaldec_
KuroShiro Kawaii is a J-Fashion shop in Texas. The shop sells a variety of Harajuku brands, such as ACDC RAG, Metamorphose temps de fille, Q-Pot, and more, as well as indie designers from around the world.
I asked Kal how it all started: The idea to open KuroShiro Kawaii. It was quite a journey for Kal and their partner in crime, Collin, to start the initial idea to the physical location itself!
"In order to understand the start of Kuroshiro Kawaii, you really have to go back to 2013, when Collin and I first met at a fabric store. Collin helped me find the perfect fabric for my cosplay at the time, and so I kept going back to his store to ask for advice, buy from him, and generally hang out after work. We became close during that time, but hadn't really hung out outside of the store. Once he learned that I was a photographer, he told me that he was starting a J-fashion brand and he needed product photos taken. I volunteered, and after that we worked together for a while in various organizations and in various roles, including Oni-Con, an anime convention in Galveston, TX. (Photo of Collin (left) and Kal (right) from the KuroShiro Kawaii FB page)
At some point in late 2018, he came to me and mentioned lightly that his dream was to start a J-fashion store, and that he really wanted to do so some time in the future. I had a lot of experience in the legal and marketing side of things (I had been running my own photography business since 2012, called Lightningsavage Photography), so I basically just said "Hey, why not start it now?"
At the time, the Houston, TX community had been split, and tensions between people were running pretty high. It saddened both of us to see it. We thought that this store was the perfect opportunity to help the community come together in a safe environment, make friends, and become more of a family again.
So we decided to start planning. We had a vision, and we had the combined experience to make it work. We started planning everything in December 2018 on weekends and around both our 9-5s, and by June 2019 we launched our online store, running it out of a storage unit and funded by personal loans and savings. After a successful Kickstarter in June and July, we were able to get a jumpstart by adding Enchantlic Enchantilly to our product line.
(The KuroShiro Kawaii home page)
In February 2020 after tiny investments from a few personal friends and family members, we were able to front a down payment on a physical store and start building out. We did this ourselves, using money sparingly to buy paint and supplies. For labor, we were assisted by our future employees and a few members of the local J-fashion community.
After the lockdown was lifted, we were able to open our doors in June 2020, and the rest is history."
(Here is their storefront!)
As I mentioned before, KuroShiro Kawaii holds both Japanese and Indie brands. I asked Kal if him and his team plan to continue to sell all these brands, or perhaps, are they thinking of bringing their own brand to life.
"We currently don't plan on starting our own brand. We do have a few items that we have created, mainly leftovers from our Kickstarter, but those are pretty limited and focused on supporting the store during the pandemic. Overall, we want to focus on supporting the J-fashion community around the word instead of focusing on ourselves."
(A few window display's from KuroShiro Kawaii, showcasing the variety of styles they offer.)
I asked Kal if he could share any upcoming projects or ideas with us, but it seems like there is something secret happening behind the scenes! "I can't say anything about it yet, other than that it's going to be huge. Not even our employees know the details."
KuroShiro Kawaii has a Patreon, where you can find out info on new items coming to their shop, an exclusive discord server, and even helping them pick items to stock! *Perhaps you'll even hear what this big surprise is later on when they are ready to start sharing!)
Moving along, I asked Kal some more personal questions about his style and fashion!
Firstly, I asked what is an important aspect of fashion to him: "To me, personally, the most important aspects of fashion are how it makes you feel, and the community that comes with that. It sounds cliché, but if you think about it, it's true: you stick with something like fashion because you love it, the people who also love it, and how it makes you feel when you wear it.
The first time I wore visual kei, I knew it was for me. I literally felt like I was the king of my own life, for the first time. This feeling led me to realize how timid and passive I was every day, and how much I hated that, because I didn't feel like myself. So, I set out to discover who I was and why I always felt....misplaced.
Later on, J-fashion helped me discover who I was. It helped me make lifelong friends and discover a passion I never thought I'd have, and it helped me be self confident when I was at my lowest. I never would have discovered this part of myself if I hadn't fallen in love with the fashion, how it made me feel that very first time, and the friends I made who supported me no matter what."
I also asked Kal what his favourite style is (These above photos are from his instagram)
"I LOVE visual kei. I can't really explain why, other than that it was what I had been looking for since high school in 2013 when I went through my emo phase. When Collin first showed me h.Naoto Sixh, Malice Mizer, and Versailles, it actually clicked: that was what I had been looking for. I just had never found it because I was only looking at western fashions. I hadn't even known it existed."
Lastly, I asked Kal who he is inspired by:
"This is going to get mushy, but I'm really inspired by Collin, especially in the beginning. He is very knowledgeable about a lot of things that I'm not, so we really meet in the middle. I also happen to know that I inspire him as well, which makes quite a sweet and unique working relationship where we both value each other's input and opinions—and each other as a person. I like to think that's one of the reasons why Kuroshiro Kawaii is such a positive place.
(A photo of Collin from the KuroShiro Kawaii Instagram, where he modelled for SEX POT ReVeNGe at a local Houston convention)
On a less mushy note, I take a lot of inspiration from The GazettE and Kamijo. The GazettE was the first visual kei band I ever discovered on my own, and the first one I saw in concert, and Kamijo is literally me on the inside and how I'm trying to be. All members of The GazettE are super talented and complete fashion goals, and I love the vampire aesthetic and attitude that Kamijo always pulls up with."
(A photo of The Gazette from Google for those who were curious about what they looked like)
Thanks for your response Kal! And thank you all for reading. Be sure to check out the KuroShiro Kawaii social networks and website, and check out our other blog posts on KAWAII INTERVIEWS, events I've attended, and more!