We had the good fortune of connecting with Kim Mahair and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kim, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I’ve always loved vintage clothing, not only because my style and sensibility seem to align better with past eras, but because with vintage it’s far less likely that you’ll be able to find the same garment anywhere else. There is something off-putting to me about going into a store, picking up a dress or top you love and seeing 10 or more replicas of it hanging there. Last year I was inspired by this sleeveless coat Katharine Hepburn wore in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and decided to design something similar with my own spin on it, so I teamed up with a pattern maker and brought it to life. I have a long list of pieces I want to design, but the last year has been an education in the cost, time, and effort that goes into making one design. I was then faced with the dilemma of how to start a clothing business with just one piece. I have a large collection of vintage clothing, so I decided that I would begin selling the pieces I was ready to part with and add my own designs in as they come. I’m working on my next piece and hope to have it finished by Spring. The one thing I would like to maintain is the individuality of each garment, whether it be a different fabric, color, or even something as simple as a unique button. The name of the brand is a nod to the Seven Seals from the book of Revelations given the energy of the last year. To balance out the fire and brimstone connotation I decided to incorporate one of my favorite creatures with a play on words.
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 find it difficult to offer a succinct description of what I do when people ask. It comes down to a need to curate, capture and create beauty. Whether it’s a meal, a space, or an ensemble. For six years I focused on preparing, styling, and shooting food. Once Covid hit and restaurants closed, it gave me the excuse to focus on clothing. I went to school for theater and my favorite class, other than acting and improv, was costume construction. I remember The Great Ann Borders saying one day that if your character wears a long skirt, then you better be wearing a long skirt during rehearsals. What your character wears is an important part of who they are and influences the choices you will make while in their skin. It affects how they move throughout the scene, how others interact with them and how they exist in the world. What you wear is a powerful form of communication with others as well as yourself. I used to have bouts of depression and still do at times. I find clothing to be useful when trying to climb out of a mental hole. A new pair of comfy shorts and a sweatshirt can be just what is needed to inspire a hike. Getting into nature, breathing and making eye contact with some dogs can’t not heal you, just a little. Putting on something that’s been sitting in your closet because you were saving it for a special occasion signals your worth and beauty to yourself, whether or not you buy into it at first. I’m not trying to minimize people that are stuck in the throes of a heavy undertow or offer a simple solution to something that doesn’t feel simple. It’s just that in my experience, sometimes tending to the outside helps the inside fall into alignment. The motivation to design pieces is driven by the fact that I simply can’t find what I want and I don’t enjoy being at the mercy of whatever is trending in fashion. I love starting with an idea and seeing how it evolves when it collides with reality. Sometimes this can be frustrating, but sometimes a limit or challenge produces something better than what I had initially envisioned.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
The best days in LA include a hike or the beach…or better, both. Definitely go for a hike in Malibu Creek State Park, then down to Topanga Beach. Walk under the PCH or across (carefully!) and grab lunch at The Reel Inn…they know how to cook a piece of fish. Make sure you order it Cajun Style and get their tartar sauce…best in LA! For dinner I would take them over to Rose Ave in Venice and hit up Wallflower (Indonesian Thai Fusion with great cocktails, a beautifully cozy atmosphere, and the work of a featured artist on the wall that changes periodically. Other places to check out during the week would be Larchmont Village, Los Feliz, Highland Park and Atwater Village. Some of my favorite restaurants include: Bludso’s BBQ, Vernetti (Italian), Bar Caló, Bulan and Green Leaves (Both Vegan), Guisados and Salzaar (For Tacos), All Time (Breakfast) and Bavel (Middle Eastern, Get the grilled prawns) Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My friend Sabrina London! We have shot and styled together for years. Having a successful vintage clothing business herself, she’s the person I always go to if I have questions or want feedback. Also Adriana Mendiola, my pattern maker!