We had the good fortune of connecting with Kimia Arya and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kimia, what role has risk played in your life or career?
To be perfectly honest, my whole life has been one big risk after another. I took the risk to move to Los Angeles 11 years ago, during the recession, to pursue a better life for myself and for my family. I took the risk to quit my “‘stable” banker job to pursue my dreams and to start my business in one of the most competitive and subjective industries, with zero experience or connections. I took the risk to be vulnerable with myself and with my community during Covid-19 when I launched my daily Instagram live show highlighting the importance of mental health awareness and my own previous struggles with mental health. The biggest risk of all was the risk I took on myself, and by believing wholeheartedly in my vision and in my talents. Taking risks has played a major role in every aspect of my life, but it has also been the MOST rewarding because it leaped me to the levels of success that I have today. My mother always taught me to “Regret what you didn’t do, not what you did” and that constantly instills me with the courage I need to make any determination. In turn, I have gathered many life experiences, which have helped me to better execute my next decision and/or calculated risks. Being comfortable is never an option and the recent pandemic showed us that nothing is ever promised. The world is big so the bigger the risk, the bigger the reward. I am confident that my life forever changed, for the better, the moment I decided to take that initial leap of faith and move.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Kimia Arya is an Ethical Couture Fashion House based in West Hollywood, California. All of our garments are hand cut, hand prepared, and made-to-order, in our atelier known as Maison Kimia. The mission at Maison Kimia is to create High Fashion at Zero Cost to Our Planet and the purpose is to minimize our carbon footprint through the daily ethical practices maintained at our atelier. As such, we specialize in silk and silk textiles because it is a natural fibre and is biodegradable. In addition, our printed silk textile designs are created in-house by myself from my original paintings, and have been famously coined as Kimia Arya Silk. All of the materials and notions, including our silks, are locally and ethically sourced, and we take pride in the transparency of our supply chain. We also repurpose the majority of our fabrics and donate the remainder to fashion schools for reuse, as to not influx our environment with waste. The Fashion Industry is the second biggest pollutant in the world, and my team and I are doing our part to reduce the global impact and to promote slow fashion. We want to lead by example that you can do good for our planet without compromising quality, and that you can own luxury items that last and that are sustainable, without compromising style. We are a purpose driven business, in addition to creating tailored suits, beautiful custom clothing, bridal gowns, and street couture, which adds to our competitive advantage. One of the biggest challenges I had to overcome was staying true to myself, my vision, and my brand purpose. I am very confident in my craft and my ability to create, and I had to cut through all of the noise, especially from all of the people telling me “no”, which were many. Art is very subjective and there is no singular way to approach design or creativity. Similarly, when you have big ideals to change an industry such as haute couture, as an emerging designer, not everyone will see or relate to your vision, which is why it is imperative that you believe in yourself and your purpose. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to create “High Fashion at Zero Cost to Our Planet”, and to make the couture world more inclusive, and that is exactly what I am doing. It was definitely difficult initially not knowing anyone in the fashion world, but it gave me the opportunity to carve my niche and to add value to an industry as a newcomer. I currently work with celebrities, high value clients, and celebrity stylists worldwide; My works have been published in major publications and media/tv outlets; I have shown my collections at both New York Fashion Week and Paris Couture Fashion Week; And, I currently create wardrobe for major talents, including Why Don’t We band and the Smashing Pumpkins. None of this would have been possible if I had given up after my first “no”. You have to have Grit and Determination. I always knew that I would pursue a career in the Arts, even as a young child. I graduated from university with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts with Honors, but my circumstances lead me to a career in finance and eventually interior design. Although I was not fulfilling my dreams and my purpose, I truly believe that my journey instilled me with the mindset and the tools that I needed to be my own boss. In 2016, I started my art, design and media company; In 2017, I added the fashion component and launched my first accessories line; And, in 2019, I launched my eponymous full fashion line, Kimia Arya, with both men’s and women’s garments, which debuted at New York Fashion Week in September of 2019. As a newcomer with no prior fashion experience or connections, I was determined to make my mark in the industry. Having recently shown my men’s collection at Paris Couture Fashion Week in January of 2020, with multiple purchase orders and an opportunity to open an atelier in Paris, France, Covid-19 hit and the world stopped. I quickly shifted gears and decided to create my haute couture dream in the States were I reside. So many brands move to Paris to be considered a reputable fashion house, why not start the same in America? That is when I started to put all of my energy, focus, and reach, to expand my brand locally and to scale up from there. I am just getting started with my brand so there is still a lot on the horizon, including major collaborations, broadcasts, and red carpet moments around the corner that I am excited about. I also want to collaborate with other artisans on our textile print designs in order to help lift their voices and to promote their art. I will continue my pledge to offset my carbon footprint by planting trees, by supporting carbon-reduction projects, and by reducing my carbon footprint daily through the ethical practices maintained by my atelier. I would be honored to be officially recognized as an Haute Couture Maison by the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, FHCM, and I will maintain my growing presence in the fashion industry as a purpose driven business. Ultimately, I will scale my business and continue to give back in any way that I can. Most importantly, I want to extend my platform to raise awareness on matters pertaining to our climate and our mental health. During the pandemic, I started a daily Instagram live show entitled “The Daily Check-in Live (literally) at Maison Kimia” that was centered on promoting mental health and community building. I want to resume that show on a monthly basis in order to check-in with my community and to provide a safe platform for people to join and to share. Kimia Arya is Ethical Couture with Purpose. “Don’t explain your philosophy, embody it” – Epictetus
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
This is a great question because I have one of my best friends that comes to visit me in Los Angeles pretty often so I can definitely recommend the same spots that we visit (pre-covid): A must for us and one of our favorite restaurants to dine and drink at is Dan Tana’s. We love the atmosphere there, the food, and the service; they always make you feel like family. We were extremely saddened by the news of our favorite bartender, and legend, Mikey, passing last year, but this place is still a gem and definitely worth supporting. I find that visitors to Los Angeles are always in awe of the mountainous views and unobstructed picturesque landscapes of the city, since LA is portrayed differently on television, so I try to entertain at restaurants that boast a beautiful view of the city like the Rooftop by JG, Terra at Eataly, the Garden at Soho House, and Catch LA. A few other super local great spots for good food, drinks and hangouts that I take my guests are Eveleigh, the Little Door, Wally’s, Fig and Olive, Electric Karma, Monsieur Marcel, Tocaya Organica, Lemonade, Cecconi’s, Craig’s, and Chateau Marmont. I love sports and one of my favorite sports’ bars in the city is Barney’s Beanery because it is an interesting spot with great history, and always fun, so I would definitely recommend it for any sports enthusiast like myself. We are fortunate to have the sunny weather that permits us to enjoy the outdoors, so I would absolutely take advantage of our many hiking trails. For sightseeing I take my guests on a nice sunset hike up Runyon Canyon to soak in the beautiful panoramic views of LA or the Griffith Observatory at Griffith Park or the trails at Lake Hollywood. I also enjoy a fun spontaneous day at Universal Studios or a casual stroll at the Grove and the Farmer’s Market. These are just a few of my recommendations for Los Angeles County.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I never had a mentor but I was blessed to have the continuous love and support of my family and friends. Even at my worse, their presence gave me the strength and motivation to move forward, and for that, I am forever thankful and grateful. I would also like to acknowledge a book entitled “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle that changed my life, and my perspective of life for the better, which deserves some recognition as well.
Other: ClubHouse @kimiaarya
George Stroumboulopoulos, Lester Villarama, Nikko Panti, Merille Raagas, Why Don’t We, Smashing Pumpkins, Spectacular Smith, Nico Greetham