ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) — In celebration of International Women’s Month, 18 News is highlighting four local women who inspire, lead and forge the way for other women.
Our last finalist is Katrina Hardiman.
Katrina lived in Elmira her whole life. After seeing an advertisement for a local fashion show, she developed a passion for design at a very young age.
“I started out doing runways and then I kind of switched gears to the designing part,” Katrina said. “It was something that I always wanted: to put on my own show, showcase my collection without any rules—without any type of restrictions. I could just express my designs and what I wanted to showcase.”
Katrina lost her mother to lung cancer at the age of 10. Instead of letting her grief take over, she wanted to do something special with her gift.
“There was a lot at a very early age that I was going through,” Katrina said. “One of the big things that I was taught growing up is how important it is to give back to people because I didn’t have a lot when I grew up and different people in the community and things like that helped a lot. So it was just something that was kind of always installed in me.”
That’s when Runway For a Cause was born. The nonprofit organization showcases local designers, models and photographers while raising funds for other organizations—both in the area and across the nation.
“It really started with me and my co-founder, Emmi. We both are alumni for [Elmira High School’s] fashion program and we were at lunch and I was like, ‘Hey, I really would like to do this and I would love to have you help me and everything.’ We just got talking about it and so it kind of started from there,” Katrina said. “We have a great committee behind us now and then slowly from there it’s just been getting in touch with our community and making sure that we build those relationships and build it up to be the best that it can be.”
Some of Katrina’s fundraising efforts include a car wash to buy school supplies for schools affected by the coronavirus pandemic, a toy drive for children within the local community, and a bake sale.
“I want to do as much as I can to build up our community and make our community stronger,” Katrina said. “We do have a couple of fundraisers coming up that will be helping frontline workers in the hospitals so that is what we’re working on right now, is putting together that fundraiser.”
Given everything she’s faced, Katrina’s accomplished so much at just 21-years-old—showing the younger generation they can forge their own path and achieve anything they set their mind to.
“Expressing yourself, for me, is one of the biggest things that has helped me grow and really turn out to be the person I am,” Katrina said. “I think that we live in a generation where you have to be able to have some sort of outlet and if it’s something that you can share with other people and have them be able to see it and maybe feel something—even if it’s not the same thing that you necessarily felt while creating it—I think that’s a really powerful thing. Push yourself to be you, to be exactly who you want to be, and go after what you believe in, even if nobody else believes in it. Because I promise, you will find people who do.”
Remarkable Women is a nationwide Nexstar Media initiative to honor the influence women have had on public policy, social progress and the quality of life.
One local winner will be selected to receive a $1,000 donation to a charity of her choice. They will then be considered for Nexstar’s nationwide 2021 Woman of the Year Award.
Our local winner will be announced Thursday, April 1.