We had the good fortune of connecting with Karen Ko and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Karen, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
Working from home definitely affects the balance between work and your personal life. Since my business has picked up recently I’ve noticed I have not had a good balance. I have a toddler who is about to turn 2 and she is at a great age to do fun activities with. I’ve felt that I have neglected spending as much time with her. Even though we’ve been dealing with the Stay at Home order due to Covid 19 I’ve been at my desk working. All my products require me to sit down and focus since it’s all hand made. I definitely plan on changing that and giving myself breaks to spend time with her during the day and work more when she’s asleep.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’ve worked in the fashion Industry designing dresses from Evening/Cocktail to Day dresses for 10+ years. I’m definitely proud that I was able to enter the industry and move up. It’s a very hard competitive industry and you basically have to dedicate your life to it. I went to FIDM here in Los Angeles and as I had my orientation I was told that over 50% of the students don’t actually end up going into the industry. Which is true but for me it was different. I had started working a summer job after High school to help pay for my schooling. I was determined that I would try my hardest to jump in the industry after I graduated because that is what I wanted to do. I loved FIDM because they have the career center in which I was able to get a lot of good re-sources. I found out about a recruitment company that helps place you as a temp to hire. I went in for an interview and soon after they placed me with a company as a temp assistant in the pattern room. Which is not really the area that I wanted to be in but I figured it’s a start and I get to learn that side of the business. Which is important for Designers to know the construction of things. I told myself that this is temporary and I can always request to be moved to design once I build more knowledge in the work field. I think the best lesson in entering any industry is that you have to be willing to do things that might not necessarily be in the exact direction you want to go. You will see how that random job taught you something once you are in the ultimate position you dreamt of. I learned so much from working in the pattern room, I was able to see the fittings and work with the fit model and learn all the behind the scenes which now as a designer I know so much about. You’d be surprised how many “Designers” don’t know what it takes to make something. But an amazing designer will know all the sides of the business which will ultimately help the company succeed. Your are less wasteful and wise with the budget you have to create each collection. Now I’m a mother and I decide to take time off to enjoy motherhood. Being creative and designing new things is in my DNA so I decided to start a small shop in which I would offer all the things I had created for my daughter. From wall hangings, name garlands, room decor pieces and now doll clothes. I started my shop in September 2019 and this year it has grown so much in which I’m thankful for. I’ve met so many other supportive small shops that have contributed to my growth through social media. My focus with my business is to bring joy to all my customers homes by creating custom pieces for their little ones. I consider them heirlooms that can be kept for them as they grow up as a little memory of their childhood. Through my daughter I’ve been reminded of how magical childhood is. This is why I’ve felt a stronger incline in focusing on children’s items. This new adventure has been a great experience and I’m constantly learning new things to better my business. I will never limit my creativity and what inspires me.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
When any of my family or friends come into town I always recommend checking out our beaches! Point Dume is one of my favorites! It’s almost like a hidden gem not over populated. When out in that area you have to stop at Malibu Seafood and get there fish tacos. It completes the whole beach experience. For a more relaxing time I would recommend checking out The Huntington Library in pasadena. It’s a great place to walk around and just enjoy the gardens and grab some delicious food at the Chinese garden. Or if you are feeling fancy reserve a spot at their Tea House for a very English experience. A fairly new up and coming area is Highland Park which you can find so many awesome small shops and delicious food. I would recommend walking around and checking out the shops and then grabbing lunch at Joy, a taiwanese restaurant and dessert across the street. You have 2 great options Scoops or Donut Friend. All 3 spots have amazing vegan options! After that if you are feeling like a night cap you have Highland Park brewery for some unique beers or you can go to Block Party for some fun cocktails. To get out of the city I would recommend going out to Laguna Beach for a mini day trip. They have a nice little downtown with small shops and great food options.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The main person that deserves any recognition right now is my husband! He has been so supportive from helping out with our daughter while I work to helping me make pom poms for the name garlands I sell in my shop! He’s actually the best at making them, a hidden talent he recently discovered.