Kapi‘olani Community College, New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, Project Runway and New York Fashion week – those are a few places that Kiniokahokuloa (Kini) Zamora has been on his road to becoming a successful local and national entrepreneur.
When Zamora was 10 years old, his aunt taught him how to sew. Eventually, he developed a passion for it. When he was 15 years old, he began sketching designs and decided that creating fashion was something that he wanted to do for the rest of his life.
“The ‘Aha’ moment that I had in my mind that I really love doing this, was the moment that I could sketch something and see it come to life – [that] I can actually express what’s going on in my head and show the world, and show everyone what I have inside of me,” Zamora said.
Zamora honed his sketching and sewing skills as he grew up. Throughout high school and college, he earned scholarships to pay for school.
“I put myself through college knowing that I really had to make sure that [fashion] was what I really wanted to do because it wasn’t something I was playing around with,” Zamora said. “It was my life so I had to make sure that it was something that I loved.”
However, Zamora wasn’t alone. Throughout his life, Zamora remembered how his family encouraged him to follow his dreams. His mother was the first person he had told about pursuing fashion in the future.
“[My mother] is and will ever be my inspiration and the driving force behind me and pushing me to do whatever I think of,” Zamora said.
His family is his drive to pursue greater heights in all his endeavors. Zamora said he wants to support his family in any way that he can. He hoped that he could give them something to be a part of, like a family business.
With the encouragement of his family and his previous fashion experience, Zamora set out to create his fashion business. Zamora had been previously turned down five times by Project Runway casting before he finally broke through on the show. Zamora still can’t believe that he made it on the show and he said that he was very thankful for the opportunity to do so.
“The opportunity for me was just to show the world that there is talent in Hawai‘i, amazing talent that needs to be seen in Hawai‘i,” Zamora said.
Since Project Runway, Zamora has been working to build his business and fashion house. He said that he is still learning the ways of entrepreneurship and expanding his brand, and though he has come a long way, he still remembers his roots.
“I come from nothing, and I have all of this,” Zamora said. “And it’s not even money for me, it’s just my talent that I have, that I’m really appreciative of. For me, that’s the rich part that I have.”
If there was one thing Zamora would want to pass on to others, it is that anything is possible.
He hopes that everyone has something in them, something that they are strong at, that they can share with the world. He said that people shouldn’t be afraid to put themselves out there because in the end, it is much more worthwhile to do so.