Kirsten Sebastian charts her many paths to success
By Fiona Patricia S. Escandor
IT’S hard to stereotype Kirsten Sebastian, much less put a label on her. She’s the kind who can be prim and proper one second, and then showing off street smarts the next.
The type who talks about her love for extreme sports such as cliff diving and parkour, she’s the eloquent creature who manages to mix verses of the poem Ithaca and expletives in the same sentence without any scruples.
Only 21 years old, Kirsten has a lot to talk about: successes, tragedies, travels and relationships that have molded her to who she is now, not to mention the time she taught herself skateboarding and surfing when she lived in California. Soon enough she’s going to publish a memoir, she said in jest.
Formerly a Hong Kong-based model and stylist, Kirsten, or Kia to her friends, has numerous experiences tucked under her belt. All this she owes to her positive, go-getting attitude, facing every opportunity with a simple “Why not?” no matter how bizarre. Like the time she was scouted as a model when she was only 18.
Kia was in Hong Kong that time to pursue her studies in international business at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. “I knew the media standards of Hong Kong were high, so I thought why not? I wanted to see how far I can go,” she said.
Under D’Asie Models Management, Kia modeled for print ads, television commercials and fashion editorials there. She later on became part of online fashion retailer YesStyle, of which she has been stylist and regional director since 2009. “I was a fashion broker and my job was to scout for designers, designers whom I believe in, to be part of YesStyle,” she said.
Nowadays, Kirsten is embarking on several voyages — this time back in her homeland — as she sets on taking over and expanding her father’s exporting business and creating ventures of her own.
“I feel proud of what I have accomplished in Hong Kong because those were successes I did without the help of friends and contacts. It was just me there. Now I want to start something of my own here,” she said.
Now pursuing international trade studies at the Centre for International Education, Kirsten is plotting a timeline of her many plans for Cebu, such as opening a Mediterranean-style lounge on the outskirts of the city as well as open a design hub-slash-shop that will house unique finds from her travels.
Not forgetting her love for hosting, though, Kirsten is also co-hosting alongside Marie Dinolan in the show “Life At the Park.” Under the tutelage of Dr. Mila Espina in Speehcom International, she was a former host of RCTV and a DJ for Y101.
Spotlight on subcultures
“I’m also part of Indigo Republic,” she said. An organization that Kirsten and her friends back in Hong Kong started, Indigo Republic aims to put the spotlight on graffiti artists, skateboarders, musicians and various subcultures, which she describes as ones “overshadowed by superficiality.”
“We see a lot of cultures are dying. Everyone is into trends now,” she said. “Many people who have the passion for what they do feel alone because nobody bothers to look at them or their works. They’re considered weird for sticking to doing what they like. And the mission of Indigo Republic is to create a strong community where their voices can be heard.”
It’s a mission to bring out the best in people, and Kirsten said this humanitarian consciousness of hers is something she got from her parents, who taught her the importance of reaching out to others and giving back.
“I feel like I should do a lot because I have the capabilities to do it,” she said. “I can’t be lazy and I have to work hard because how can I help others if I can’t help myself?”
Photography: Alfred Gregory E. Bartolome
Assistants: Chelzee Salera and Abby Kionisala
Hair and Make-up Artist: AJ Airraveche
Venue: Mivesa Residences Showroom