Fashion Mogul: Kimberley Gordon, 32, Co-Founder and Creative Director of LA-based Wildfox, a wildly popular women’s label featuring 1970’s inspired bohemian staple wear. These days, celebrities including Taylor Swift, Alessandra Ambrosio and Jennifer Lopez are head-over-heels over Kimberley’s dreamy vintage chic designs. Here’s what this fashion designer says made her business thrive.
You moved out to LA to become a filmmaker and ended up building a multi-million dollar clothing empire. That’s not too shabby….
Haha, I guess not! Nothing ever is as glamorous as it sounds though. I still really love film and may want to try it again at some point, but it was a difficult industry to compete in given that the classes I took were all predominately men and the teachers were all pretty sexist. It was a weird world and I thought I would never be able to stand out at the time. I was 19 years old and a little intimidated, so I gave up and started waitressing just to get by.
Starting out as a young entrepreneur in an extremely competitive market, what made your designs stand out?
I actually wasn’t nervous about standing out in fashion. I didn’t really think about it as a challenge. I felt like we just knew this type of t-shirt was lacking in the market and our story and talent would help people connect to the brand. Don’t get me wrong though– it was really hard work in the beginning, I cried like every night.
How did you market yourself and the brand you were building?
I had always been into blogging and started a new blog that got popular. We also got our clothing into Kitson, which was THE spot at the time (2007) and as a result, celebrities started wearing our clothes. We also were really interactive at our sales booths- we hula hooped and face painted and we were extremely outgoing with the buyers. The photo shoots were sort of an afterthought and a way for me to express my love of film.
Talk about your unique approach in life and how that led to your success. You were quoted saying “I worked my ass off to get where I am today, but I skipped out on school and opted for unique classes and work experience.”
Right, well I wouldn’t recommend not going to school at all, however it’s expensive and time consuming and may not get you what you want. I guess what I mean is I think it’s ok to opt out on the degree aspect of it, it will allow you to take classes individually that you are very passionate about. You definitely need to take classes in your interests because your skillset will become your selling tool in work interviews.
Fashion is a hobby for most women. For you it’s your job. What are your hobbies and how to you stay balanced?
I watch a lot of TV. I love series marathons and “junk food” television, like Say Yes to the Dress and Friends. I also paint, draw, blog and am active in social media (Instagram). I have lots of pets to play with at home.
Fashion is a tough business – one that requires an extra set of thick skin. What were some of the challenges that you faced or continue facing being in the public eye?
Honestly the public eye has been great. The fans give me so much positive and constructive feedback and I have learned a lot from them!! It’s one of the greatest parts of my experience so I have no complaints about the “public eye”. On the other hand- internally it is very tough when you don’t have the right partners or team. I faced a lot of sexism and ego stroking with Wildfox, and it’s very sad for me.
What mistakes have you made in business?
That’s hard to answer, but I think not having a lawyer representing me in the very beginning with a startup brand.
What mistakes do you see other women making in business?
Having too broad of a branding narrative. It’s really important that you know your customer and don’t sway from that with your marketing.
What was a career defining moment for you?
During our “Rock N Roll” shoot, we did that at my high school in the theater and my teacher was there. He was watching us shoot the girls on stage and he started crying. He was really proud. It was one of the best days of my life absolutely.
List 3 traits you think all women entrepreneurs need in order to succeed?
Patience, Respect, DRIVE.
What are 3 items every woman should have in their closet?
A black dress (that can be worn on many occasions)
A unique, expensive purse (it can make any outfit dressed up)
Sweat pants (something to come home to)
What clothing can you absolutely not live without?
My ‘French’ style collared shirts, my high-waisted skirts, tights, sweatpants, and vintage dresses.
Mantra you live by?
I have become my own version of an optimist. If I can’t make it through one door, I’ll go through another door – or I’ll make a door. Something terrific will come no matter how dark the present. – Rabindranath Tagore
Craziest thing you’ve ever done:
Lived out of my girlfriend’s car with her when we were 20 years old in Los Angeles.
Theme song for your documentary:
Stronger by Britney Spears
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