Studio 904 owner Keiko Kay Hirai releases new book, Sheer Determination

May 15, 2017 | by Julia Hess

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In her newest book, Sheer Determination, Mercer Island resident and business owner Keiko Kay Hirai shares her words of wisdom on social entrepreneurship, pursuing one’s passions, and perseverance.

As a self-made entrepreneur, she’s contributed to the Mercer Island community in many ways.

While running Studio 904, her award-winning salon for over 40 years on Mercer Island, Hirai has hosted numerous charity events at the salon and contributed thousands of dollars to local organizations (along with hiring and training a team that provides outstanding salon services to Mercer Island residents).

Hirai is also an outstanding model of what it looks like to be an ethical and socially responsible business owner. Along with hosting charity events, she also helps the immigrant and refugee community through her employee training program. In her book, she dives into the details of how her business values are inspired by a deeper philosophy of the Kaizen principles of life-long learning.

“Most of us work hard to make good things happen,” she writes in her book. “…Yet, it is easy to forget the core values that lie deep within us, waiting to be awakened. It is essential to dig deep and uncover those values. If we don’t make that effort, there is no passion, joy, or purposeful direction to our lives and we end up feeling lost or unfulfilled.”

To be a socially ethical and successful business owner, Hirai says that passion and attention to core values are key. Her own passion for helping her employees and contributing to the Mercer Island community has translated into a business that’s earned her over a dozen awards, such as the Best Business Award from the Mercer Island Chamber of Commerce, Better Business Bureau International Award for Marketplace Ethics, and the Northwest Philanthropy Award.

This success did not come easy or quickly – Sheer Determination highlights Hirai’s 40-year journey to create a salon with such an innovative, ethical, and successful business model. She also shares her early struggles – upon first arriving to the United States from Japan, she worked hard to learn English and secure her first bank loan before she could build the business she has today.

A slow and steady progression, and focusing on what truly matters, brought Hirai both personal and professional success. In an interview with The North American Post, Hirai says that it’s important for small business owners not to focus on making lots of money in a short amount of time, as true success comes from “living a life of passion and purpose” — as a result,  she says, “you will be amazed at the amount of energy you have to go through the trials and triumphs of your journey.”

More than a story about success, Sheer Determination provides many life lessons and advice, about pursuing your passions, and focusing on personal values, that can apply to all readers.

Sheer Determination is now available for purchase at her salon. There will also be a special release event at Island Books on May 18th from 5 – 7 pm when Hirai will discuss her book, which will be available for purchase at the store. Learn more about this event at Island Books’ website. Island Books is located at 3014 78th Ave SE.

About the Author: Kay Hirai is the business owner of Studio 904 on Mercer Island. She’s previously published two other books: Yumi’s Life Lessons, a collection of stories inspired by her dog, and Keiko’s Journey, a book that details her childhood in Japan during WWII. She lives on Mercer Island with her husband and Dog.

Visit for more information on the author as well as to read her blog. You’ll also find a free sample chapter of her book!

Studio 904 is located at 3041 78th Ave SE.

(Sheer Determination, Swimming Upstream in a Downstream World, 2017, ISBN 978-1544825649, $14.95,