We had the good fortune of connecting with Stacia Hiramine and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Stacia, what role has risk played in your life or career?
After a tumultuous childhood of following humanitarian parents across the globe, I stepped into adulthood in a similar fashion: up to my ears in post-grad programs and trips that would plunk me down in no less than 13 countries for purposes related to everything from photojournalism to refugee support to studying theology. In the rare moments I would pause to process what risk meant to me, I’d feel relatively confident, reasoning that I understood risk thoroughly – an idea further amplified by the wild, adventure-packed three year itinerary stretched out before me at the time. Was that season a whirlwind? No doubt. Was it speckled with memories and snapshots both absurd and fantastic? Relentlessly. Was it risky for me? In all honesty, on a scale of one to ten, it felt between a 2.6 and 3.1. Bouncing had become my comfort zone. Finagling just close enough to the action to catch the story-shot before zipping on to the next location was a true work of art for me. And after a lifetime of practice, I was good at it – so why quit? Somewhere in the tornado of cultures and airports and not-yet’s that was both my life and my comfort zone, there was one thing I had not yet risked: settling down. Finding an anchor. A place to return home to. A precious moment to listen to the frazzled inner-child that dreamt of a quiet season with no fanfare nor force. Everything in me revolted at the concept of letting go of the freedom of flight that chained me to an identity that was too exhausting to part with. But something, or rather someone, changed that. Unexpectedly, I met a man who chose great risk, but in a way that was completely foreign to me. He risked everything to leave a successful career, move to a notoriously difficult country to immigrate to since 2016 (I’ll let you guess which one that is), and try to tame a wanderlusting psychological meltdown waiting to happen (that’s me). With his hearty, earnest presence in my life, he presented the question to me in turn: could I risk that large too? When he moved to settle in the United States to be close to me and his brother, I saw a level of risk that I’d never, in all my braggarting, come close to experiencing. He showed me the value of knowing. Of settling in a community and learning its fine lines and curved edges – the people who matter in it and, most importantly, the stories that brought them together. After a life spent hopping from place to place, and story to story, that kind of knowing and those kinds of snapshots were ones I found myself craving with more and more desire. Both a new, and frightening feeling. When I met him, he wore a bracelet that had the word “risk-taker” engraved on it by his sister-in-law, gifted at a moment he was deeply unhappy in his work – just before he left to eventually join us in our family business. When he was unexpectedly sent back to Lithuania, he left the bracelet with me and I wore it everyday, and still take pictures of it on every trip I go on without him (you can see pictures of this bracelet below). So do I still travel? Yes, because it is my comfort zone to dip my toes into the cultural milieu enough to stay comfortably distant. Now however, it’s my joy to dive deep, to grow roots, and squish my feet down into the soil of what others have built on and decide I’d like to build alongside them. When I began a home with this man- my now fiancé, I felt I was abandoning the risk-taker in me. That I was settling. Risk has been redefined for my own inner world, shaped to my own expectations for myself. Now, it takes the form of staying long enough to connect, seeking community and love where I doubt it is. On my brave days, I know I’ll never settle for shallow again, wherever I am.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My passion is photography. I write about what I see. I design structures that help that story find a place to live, four walls to settle down into before it moves into your heart. These three art forms are necessarily intertwined – but they need so much more. As someone who hails from an Asian-American heritage, it’s difficult (if not impossible) to disentangle the strength and ability of my work to touch others from the strength and ability of my family to work together. I’ve struggled to explain this communal phenomenon, but suffice it to say the work we do is excellent because of one another. For example, as a photographer and designer, my infatuation with every story I come across tends to go incredibly deep, rather than wide. Your non-profit was originally your grandmothers idea? Tell me her whole life story and I will find a way to meaningfully incorporate that special generational legacy into your brand. Your fundraiser originated in a casual conversation over coffee on an average weekday? I love that. Great revolutions happen on Wednesdays at 2:47pm when we shift our perception and choose to notice. Thusly, when I had the opportunity to work with a group of multi-talented creatives, I jumped at it. I know I dive deep. I need others to spread it wide. Story is about participation. Participation galvanizes us to work at what really matters and the more participation, the better our work and the greater the story becomes. We are all drops in this ocean, but vital for every wave. The interconnectedness of each of our stories and selves is absolutely blaring to me in every situation. It is what makes my art – whether a photograph of a village mother or a campaign announcing a new era of womens’ rights – resound and resonate. These stories may be worlds apart, but they share the same spirit. And so it goes with every story. The question becomes; how can we use the stories we know, understand, and are passionate about to infuse new and struggling stories with resonance and relationship? Ironically, working with others is actually quite challenging for me. I’m especially sensitive to even positive critiques and I’ve had more than my share of unnecessarily wounded moments. However, I’ve noticed that my ability to enjoy my art, grow in it, and make an impact is directly proportional to my ability to hear what others say, let their stories impact mine, and let them change me. That is the definition of love, isn’t it? And who doesn’t want a story founded in love to be their brand? To see more of my work and watch the story unfold with my magical creative-family, you can visit astracreative.co or my own site at staciahiramine.com (@staciahiroko).
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
I moved to LA with the firm dedication to hate it. I am happy to say I’ve been happily converted to its incredible community by none other than its beautiful locals and landmarks. Here are a few of my longtime faves:
– Echo Canyon (a grad school favorite)
– Griffith Observatory (my first date with my fiancé)
– The Hollywood Sign (please be courteous to the lovely people living nearby
– but every visiting friend makes me take them and the satisfaction of reaching the top is perfect.)
– Paseo Miramar (an incomparable view of the ocean not too far from Santa Monica coffee
– a perfect end to a day at the Getty Villa)
– Any hike in Malibu
– Angeles Crest Forest camping and wandering
– The taco truck at the corner of Eagle Rock and Division. Tacos al pastor. Enough said.
– Lemon and Poppy Bakery and Cafe
– Um, In n Out? I like animal style and I cannot lie.
– True Foods Kitchen. So healthy, so irresistible.
– Cafe 86. Ube for days.
– Copa Vida. Endless study hours.
– Donut Friend. My best friend.
– Thrift at L.A. ROAD Thrift Store. We run their marketing and social sometimes and the joyous souls who work there are as quality as the treasures you’ll discover.
– Go to the Wholesale Flower Market in DTLA on a Saturday morning and bask in the aroma and textures of thousands of fresh flowers as far as the eye can see. Then drop by the farmers market just outside for drinks and breakfast.
– Surf any chance you get. Nothing will make you feel as fearless! I’m preferential to charming San Clemente.
– Longboard along the L.A. River. Not scenic, but unforgettable in springtime.
– Get out of the city for some perspective. I’m a sucker for long meditation sessions on the beach or city views at Griffith or in the Angeles Forest. Sometimes we appreciate the bustle and rush more after a long breath.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Dedication would have to rest squarely on the shoulders of my business-partners, adopted-siblings-in-law, tribe-born-out-of-adventure, crazymaking-risktaking-motivating family. When I met my dear friend Amanda on a photojournalism trip to Papua New Guinea, I fell in love with her and her fiance, Arunas’, practically immediately. There was nothing about them that wasn’t inspiring, motivating, and glowing with passion. We sailed, flew, and trekked all across that magical country for several months while they dropped hints about Arunas’ twin brother, Arturas and his own magical qualities. My skepticism about this obscure twin turned to mild obsession when we finally met on a camping trip along the central California Coast. Artūras, an engineer by trade and artist at heart, leapt from one career to another and across an entire ocean from his home of Lithuania to California to be with us – a risk I will never cease to marvel at. The outcome has been quite satisfactory. Arturas and I are happily engaged, quarantined, and the four of us are dreaming of new and beautiful projects to serve our clients as a family at Astra Creative Co.
Website: staciahiramine.com and astracreative.co
Instagram: @staciahiroko, @astrabranding, @astraweddings