I have always been a clotheshorse, thanks to my mother’s influence, and I became known while still pretty young for having a personal style. I taught myself to sew at a young age, then studied fashion design in college, which refined that ability. I devoured fashion magazines and, if I couldn’t find what I wanted to wear, or afford the pieces in the magazines, I would make them myself. This has continued to be a common “thread” to this day and is the impetus of how KMM Collective began.
Receiving mostly positive comments on my fashion sense throughout my life, I was encouraged when people inquired about the pieces I was designing, sewing and wearing over the past several years. This made me start thinking about taking my style from a personal pursuit to a business. I couldn’t easily find a seamstress to make the pieces I wanted to share so I pursued finding someone -- or several someones -- already producing and selling similar styles and products. Incorporating pieces from the different boutiques in the various countries I’ve visited was already a possibility, too. Watching textiles be woven on a loom and seeing first hand how they are naturally dyed using pigments made from vegetables and spices absolutely blew my mind.
Fabrics are also essential to me. I have been ordering hand, block-printed textiles from India and linen from Lithuania for years now. It takes a while to receive these fabrics because they are coming from another country and are being made and dyed to order! For little ol’ me!! Once I finally receive the material I have to find the time to sew. What am I going to make next? Another caftan? A blouse? And months later I have a garment to wear that I made myself out of handmade fabric, from another country. Do you see where I am going with this?
I never realized I would be able to sell the clothing from my favorite shop in Antigua, Guatemala, “Wayil”, and I had no idea that I would discover Vikolino linen, a family-run company that grows their flax linen, dyes their fabrics naturally and designs similar styles to what I was making for myself. Even more interesting are the people and the stories behind their businesses, their desires to create their products sustainably while also designing an opportunity for people in their villages or towns.
My girlfriend Paige, @paorientals who has been with me on this journey, told me from day one, “stick to women for women, organic, handmade.” I have learned over these four months that she is correct. I have bought a few items that don’t represent what my brand is about regarding materials and quality, and I can’t tell you anything about the people who made those pieces. It has been a valuable lesson, and I will continue to learn more of these lessons as I grow this business and myself. Stick with me, please.
My friend Karin @KPKinteractive shared a quote with me early on by Eileen Fisher. “Grow organically. Don’t get ahead of yourself.” I think Eileen is right.
I will be off the grid starting today until I return from Havana on the second. Another great adventure with my favorite travel companion, my husband, Duncan, I can't wait to share the stories and the pictures.
Cheers to an exciting 2019!!