Are you completely OVER Black Friday Sales? I hope so, because the best shopping day of the year is arguably “Small Business Saturday”.
Saturday November 25th will be your opportunity to be thoughtful about where and from whom you shop. It’s also a time to support Local Businesses in your backyard. Not only are you supporting a great cause but you could be positively impacting the environment.
Ahead of Small Business Saturday I sat down over coffee with Sherry Koyama founder of Oakland based clothing brand Harumi K. I’m always on the lookout for East Bay designers and jumped at the opportunity to interview the woman behind this brand and the group Oakland Fashion Network.
Harumi K will be at Resurrect in Oakland this Saturday. Shop LOCAL. Shop SMALL
“What inspired your business name and why did you start your business?”Harumi is my middle name – it’s Japanese for spring/lightness/beauty – and K is the initial for my last name, which I added mainly because the web address “harumik.com” was not taken yet, while “harumi.com” was! After being a visual artist for many years, I shifted gears to sewing after my husband gifted me sewing lessons. It was quite enjoyable to sew commercial patterns for awhile, but I wanted to delve deeper into the subject. I went back to school to learn patternmaking and design at Apparel Arts. After completing the program in 2013 I was having a harder and harder time finding clothes I really liked (and could afford) in stores, and the seed for Harumi K was planted. My first collection launched in late 2014 and cater to women who seek versatile, modern clothing that stands out and takes her from work to weekend.
“What’s the biggest misconception people have about your industry and what are you doing to change this?”A huge misconception is that the production of garments is highly automated – either by robots or machines! I use a small factory in Oakland, and a seamstress sews everything on a sewing machine. The fabric is cut by another local vendor who uses an electric cutter to cut many layers of fabric at once. I draft all my patterns by hand using pencil and paper. There is a human handling every step of the production process. It’s labor intensive, and the costs are high because it is all done locally. I am the Co-Founder of the Oakland Fashion Network, a networking group for the local fashion industry, and we try to educate people about this whenever we can.
I received the following as a job interview question; paying it forward because it helped me land the job! “What was the last book /author you read?”
I’ve had this as an interview question too! 🙂 Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan – it chronicles the lives of the ultra wealthy in Singapore. I was initially interested in it because I recently went to Singapore for the first time, and it describes such lavish lifestyles that most people can’t imagine, but also how that relates to Asian culture and family life. Singaporeans are also REALLY into food (as am I) – and there are a lot of descriptions of food in the book which is a bonus.
“What is your vision for your business or industry in the next year?”
I’m planning to start offering commercial patterns for some of our best selling styles. It’s always been in the back of my mind to do this, but I am finally going to move forward and it will be exciting to see how others interpret my designs!