We had the good fortune of connecting with Kim Alexandriuk and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kim, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I always knew that I wanted to do something in the arts. Since I had the opportunity to study in Berlin, Germany when I was young, and then in Lyon, France while in University, language and travel always intrigued me. I studied International Economics and Fine Arts in college, and looking back, it influenced so much of my direction in life – as did my family and upbringing. My parents were immigrants, and travel and exposure to different languages and cultures was very important to them. My mother wasn’t a designer, but she always made our home so beautiful… interesting, colorful… I didn’t realize it then, but that experience at a very young age lit a spark inside me. I knew that being in certain rooms made me feel a certain way, and that it was pleasing to be in a beautiful environment created with such care and love from my mother. It was actually my sister who suggested I get into interior design, after years spent working at the Getty and pondering my next move.
Lucky for me, my first interior design job was with the renowned Michael Smith. His company was small back then, so it was advantageous to get first-hand exposure to his process, clientele and artisans. I remember an assignment I had while working with Michael was to travel to Morocco on a search for the perfect tile for a client in Montecito. (This was before anything and everything was available at our fingertips via the internet.) It was invigorating to use my travel and language expertise in this way and we actually ended up installing the tile I selected into the client’s home! I honed my skills with Michael Smith for seven years, while also attending UCLA’s School of Interior Design. As my confidence grew, so did my desire for work/life balance. I knew I wanted to start a family and I knew that it was time to spread my wings. It wasn’t easy, and it was a huge risk to start my own company, but I had to leave some security behind in order to grow and move forward. My very first client on my own was this adorable couple who had this fantastic home in Santa Monica and a studio office in their back garden. I thought to myself, how wonderful it would be to live and work like this, to eventually become a mom and be just a step away from my family while working. The risk paid off, and my dream of becoming a mother, and even finding my own home with a studio workspace in Santa Monica came to fruition. Soon I was taking shopping trips around the world for my own clients. Paris has always been one of my favorite cities to source beautiful vintage and antique pieces and intricate textiles, and the inspiration from the architecture, style and surroundings is endless. Travel is in my blood. It will always be a big part of my personal journey and so much of what informs me as a designer. Through my trips to Croatia & Germany the inspiration for my carpet collection for Christopher Farr was born. It’s part of my process. For me, my work as a designer often means stepping away from the office and exploring the world; from the amazing city of Los Angeles that I live in, to trips abroad that allow me to spend time with my family and also inject me with so much creativity and inspiration.
In 2009 my son was born and after several successful years with my own company, the economy took a huge turn and it changed everything! It was a scary time, but it opened up the opportunity to adjust my perspective and my focus. I was able to slow down and really be present – with my company and with my family. Business is always changing and evolving and as a businesswoman I constantly need to be on my toes and have the ability to adapt with the times. In fact, that’s exactly what Covid and this past year has done for me. I was able to evaluate my company and shift things where necessary. For example, I have realized the importance of social media and how it plays such a crucial role in marketing and developing a presence. I’m also using it as a communication tool for a direct dialogue with my base. But at the same time, because everything is so saturated and visual on Instagram, and how quickly trends come and go these days, it’s just as important to log out and reset my creative visions – to look inward vs. looking out. Again, it’s all about balance.
Even though owning my company can be challenging and the weight of the responsibility falls solely on me, I wouldn’t have it any other way. This is also why I have chosen to keep my company a smaller, boutique agency, so that my work/life balance can always be in check. Spending time with my family when I can, traveling the world and continuing to hone my creativity with different places and cultures will always be at the root of what I do.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
(Please see details from first question)
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
La Dolce Vita in Beverly Hills
Maple Block Meat Company
Grand Central Market
LA Flower Mart
Hikes in LA:
Will Rogers – Inspiration Point
Trippit Ranch – off of Topanga Canyon Blvd.
The Annenberg Beach Club is a really great place to go to the beach, play volleyball, eat at the cafe, swim in the pool or visit the Marion Davies house.
Hauser and Wirth
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
First and foremost, my family. My father for convincing me that I also needed a proper business degree and to not just study art, which has helped me immensely for owning my own business! My sister for her encouragement and the inspiration to consider interior design in the first place. My mother, who in addition to sparking the design fire inside me, spent years with me in the early days of my company, as my design consultant and sounding board, working alongside me when I needed it the most.
I am grateful to Michael Smith, for giving me such a wonderful foundation from which to start my career. I’d also like to shoutout to the incredible people I have worked with and formed such great working relationships with throughout the years – particularly three women whose talent and loyalty to my firm means so much; Hilla Bitton, my project manager, Mari-Char Oliveros, my design assistant, and my business manager, Jennifer Commander. They have all worked with me for several years and we have created such an enjoyable working shorthand together, an ease that is irreplaceable. Additionally, the tradespeople and craftsmen who produce such fabulous work, who because of our history together, always have my back. Things can get hectic in this space, but these amazing people make things run smoothly and efficiently and I know how lucky I am to have these relationships! I am also so thankful for my long-term clients and their support. So many who have referred me to many clients throughout the years, and some who have even become generational clients, getting to work with them, and now with their children as they become young adults and start to create lives and homes of their own. I love my work. I love helping people recognize how deeply their environment can affect the way they live and feel, and then translating that vision into their perfect space. And what could be better than that?
Office photo by Dominique Vorillon