Hi everyone! This week’s vendor spotlight features our special guests Kuroshiro Kawaii (KSK), a Japanese fashion store located in Houston, Texas! KSK is all about inclusivity and respect. They want all people to feel welcome within the fashion and at their store with no one left feeling out. Kuroshiro Kawaii will be vending at our #RoyalVegasRetreat2021 event and be a part of the fashion show! Please read on for the interview we had with them.
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What is the story behind your store and brand logo? In reality, the name of the store explains more than the actual logo. We wanted to work with Kuro and Shiro (black and white) to represent both darkness and light, as well as the inclusivity that we strive for in the fashion and styles that we provide: sweet and gothic, punk and elegant.
What would your store “elevator pitch” be? We are a Japanese fashion store that provides a fun and safe place for all in the community, without judgment or exclusivity, that celebrates all styles.
What was it like to start your brick-and-mortar store during COVID? And what challenges have you faced because of the pandemic? Starting up during the pandemic has been the roughest thing we've ever done. Because we opened the store at the beginning of the pandemic, we did not qualify for any government assistance even though we couldn't open our doors for months. Every month, we have been trying to make sure our employees are safe and taken care of while being able to keep items in the store. This, of course, has its challenges, and some months are harder than others. Luckily, we continue to be supported so well by our community, and every day are hoping for COVID-19 to reach a safe end so that we can provide a more stable event space and expand the services we offer to our community.
How has your store evolved since its inception? We didn't originally plan on having as many indie brands in the store as we do now, but we found that supporting those creators was not only beneficial to us, but gave us a way to help those that no longer had the ability to sell at conventions like they would under normal circumstances.
Because we have also been affected by the inability to host events and open a photography area as we originally planned, we have created a Patreon to host monthly hangouts that come with a lot more perks in order to make up for that lost ability. Some of these perks include first access to preorders, exclusive livestreams, and shopstaff advice.
What kind of products can people expect to find in your store? At Kuroshiro Kawaii, you can find a variety of Japanese and indie brands, from punk to sweet and everything in between. We are happy to carry Metamorphose Temps de Fille, ACDC RAG, SEX POT ReVeNGe, Royal Princess Alice, LIZ LISA, Necrosarium, Fluffy Tori, Puvithel, Demonia, Sanrio, and more.
These brands do rotate out occasionally, so not all of them might be there at once. It depends on what we are able to swing and the feedback we receive from our community.
Additionally, we do have a consignment area, which operates similarly to ClosetChild in Japan. At this time, none of our consignment items are online because they rotate out so quickly! If you're able, I highly recommend coming by often to see what's new.
How do you decide what brands to carry? We are very careful with the brands we chose to work with, and we try to make sure they have the high standards in terms of product quality and variety. Many are brands that we have personally worked with in the past, or that we have visited while in Tokyo. When it comes to selecting our brands, size inclusivity and style variety are what we are all about.
How do you get brands to sell through you? We reach out to some brands with what's called a "cold call," where we have no previous relationship with them and pitch to them our store and what we are about. With that, we can work with them to reach an agreement, and carry their brand in our store.
Sometimes, brands that we carry stem from previous relationships we've formed at events or conventions, thus opening a line of communication between us.
What does a day in the store look like for you? Our typical days vary from day to day, depending upon if we have shipments coming in, or an unboxing stream on that day. Typically, though, we get the lights on, make sure all of our product is spaced properly, and then open up to be ready for any customers coming in.
Once we have a walk in, we welcome them with irasshaimase and help them find what item or style is right for them. A lot of the time, people who come into the store are those interested in Japanese fashion but new to the community. We make sure that they understand that we are truly a safe space -- even if they don't want to buy anything, they're welcome to hang out! We have made quite a few genuine connections this way, and we hope to make more. Helping people is what we are all about.
Sometimes, if we have a livestream, we might close the store early for the stream. A lot of the time, the livestreams you will see are while we are open, which can be a bit difficult; however, these streams are meant to focus on the needs of customers who aren't able to come in during the pandemic. We show off products, tell the stories behind the pieces, take measurements, and answer questions.
With our in-store consignment, we are always prepared for any possible incoming sellers as well, on any day.
Where can people find you online? There are multiple places we can be found! The primary place we can be found is through our website and mailing list. But we are also active on the following:
Call to action: Abolitionist organization Jailhouse Lawyers Speak is raising funds for their 2021 #ShutEmDown demonstrations! They're trying to get to $20,000. Before you buy a new dress - consider chipping in!