Aya Kanai’s endless accomplishments in the fashion industry are laudable, crafting a decade-long career in the media world and cementing her place as a maverick editor for the likes of Seventeen, Cosmopolitan, Teen Vogue, Nylon, and so many more. Additionally, Aya’s signature style has solidified her as a sought-after fashion stylist, dressing celebrities like Sienna Miller, Ashley Olsen, Jennifer Lawrence, Michelle Williams, and Kirsten Dunst. Also, she serves as a judge on Project Runway Junior! Clearly, Aya Kanai is a go-getter. As the world of media progresses, so will Aya. She’s cool like that.
When Aya greeted The NuWa team at the door of her Brooklyn apartment, we immediately knew we were in for a treat. With floor to ceiling windows, eclectic shelves built by her loving husband from Cincinnati, and conversation-starting books lining every surface, like Mary Helen Bower’s Ballet for Life, a guest feels welcomed into the powerful brain of Aya Kanai. In the way that she can expertly style celebs, she has a similar magic touch with her apartment and personal fashion. Read along for this one, y’all. You’re in for wisdom and a surprise announcement at the end!
Who is your superhero in the fashion industry?
My superhero is Joanna Coles, who is the Cheif Content Office at Hearst Magazines. She has truly revolutionized how fashion content is seen by different consumers.
What is your favorite Teel Yes piece?
My favorite pieces are the earrings that I am wearing right now! (She’s wearing the Two of a Kind Asymmetrical Thread Earrings, and of course, they are the website’s best sellers. This woman is GOOD at her job.) I love the asymmetry of them. As you can see, they both have a slightly different shape. Also, because my day is so active, wearing earrings that have a strong statement but are also light-weight makes a big difference. I can’t wear heavy jewelry at all. The fact that these are so light is ideal.
What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?
I am still really excited every day to be working as a fashion editor. I work on five different brands, so I am never bored. We are always doing really different kinds of projects, working with all different kinds of women. For me, my job is more exciting now than it ever was.
What challenges are on the horizon and how will you overcome them?
As I am sure anyone with a phone and access to the internet will tell you, the business of media and how we get our information is changing so much. As someone who has worked in the media business for about thirteen years, I have watched this massive evolution happen, and have evolved with it, as well. So, although that is technically a challenge, it is also very exciting! As editors, we have to find new ways to communicate with our consumer.
Describe yourself in 3 words.
A tomboy. I love candy. Can that count as one word? And family. Family is really important to me.
I love this navy color, and that is really what drew me to this bracelet bag in the first place. Also the ease of it, the way you can wear it on your wrist. Becuase I live in Brooklyn, I am on and off the subway all day long. To have a hands-free bag that also has a cross body option that is so perfect and easily accessible really makes a big difference when you’re running in and out of meetings. This is the perfect shape for me. Also, so perfect for the weekend, right?
Any advice you can give to young designers?
I think one of the most important things for young designers to think about today when they are starting a collection is to follow your own vision and follow your gut as to why you got into this business in the first place. But more than that, you also truly need to research what is out there in the marketplace. As an editor who sees everything, my job is literally to see all the products in the market, I often see redundancy. I wonder to myself, “Why are these same things happening all the time?” Creating something unique takes a lot of research.
Who is your Wonder Woman?
This is a boring answer, but because I am seven months pregnant (!!!) I have been thinking a lot about motherhood. Saying my mother is boring, but as I approach my own first-time as a mom, I think so much about how much my own mother gave to me. I can get emotional just talking about it now, maybe because I’m pregnant. How much she gave to me and how much she sacrificed for me to have the life that I have makes her my Wonder Woman.
I don’t know about you, but I am so inspired by Aya Kanai and her uncanny ability to encourage other women, foster talent, and scout the next best thing. Her daughter doesn’t even know how lucky she is. Follow her awesome Instagram at @ayakanai and view her work at www.ayakanai.com.
Presents by Parisa Wang and Teel Yes
Photography Via Rachel Kuzma