Designer Profile - Katie May

Last week I had the privilege to sit down with designer Katie May in her Venice office to discuss, question and talk all things Fashion + more. I came across Katie May while on Facebook.  Ahhh, the power of online marketing! As I viewed her site, I found some quite interesting things like how she lives and works from Tokyo, that she has a blog on her site as well as and most importantly that I would absolutely fall in love with her Jeanie Dress from her Fall 2011 collection (shown below). So I decided to take a chance and contact her. If this wasn’t perfect timing I don’t know what is… but she wrote me back and said she could meet this week as she was leaving for Tokyo at the end of the week. Seems like it was meant to be J

Upon my arrival, I met Amanda, her co-worker, who is uber cool and has THEE cutest cards I’ve ever seen! Katie’s line was filled with pieces of very nice quality, well thought out designs and individuality. Her Fall line is filled with practical yet stylish pieces that can serve any woman, no matter her career or age.  After I viewed the line, I sat down with Katie and found out many intriguing, surprising, impressive and relatable details from the So Cal native.

When did you decide to create your line?
    I knew when I was in 4th grade. That’s when I knew that was the career choice. But when it came to launching, it takes a lot of guts to get to the point to do it. In college, I started to intern at Lisa Kline, which is where I learned the ins-n-outs of running and managing a retail store. After college I began working in wholesale as the West Coast account executive for Juicy Couture and that was really wonderful because it showed me how to edit down a collection. And then my husband just built me up and said you can do this, you can do this, you can do this! And so that’s how it all started.

    How would you describe you line’s style?  
      The line is entirely glamorous. It’s entirely sophisticated but it’s also sexy. There’s a really nice element of sensuality with every piece! We really spend time editing the fit. We want to make sure the exterior of the garment is really beautiful but the interior of the garment is really beautiful as well. We take a lot of Inspiration from vintage because things last forever.

      Who Is the Katie May customer?
        Someone like me; someone who lives for fashion, not based on trend, but based on style. They don’t have a ton of money to throw away, they may not shop designer, they may have a few pieces but at the end of the day, they want things special and they want it to stand out and they want people to respect the way they dress but within a budget that’s real to everyday living. 

        If you would dress 1 person in the world for a week, who would it be? Why? 
          Kate Middleton. I think she’s beautiful, she is the face of the UK, and I think she dresses well but I’d like to get a Katie May spin on some pieces. I think she could dress a bit more style and flair integrated and not-so buttoned up and polished. 
          I would love to have a week with Britney Spears. I love her. I’m sick of people picking on her, I’m sick of the media always saying we love her but we’re going to talk about her. I think she’s talented. And I think making people feel beautiful is an easy thing to do and I think dressing is a big part of it. And maybe just reminding her that you can have an exciting wardrobe and it not be a lot of work and just have someone to help you.

          You live in overseas, but you went to school in CA, how did that transition happen?

          The opportunity came with my husband’s company having a large base in the Asian market, so the travel undertone was always there.  And for me, I’ve always wanted to live overseas. And because of my husband I’ve been able to see a lot more of the world and because of those experiences, I feel like I appreciate things much more than I ever have.

          Do you find it difficult to work from overseas when you main market is based in the US?

          It’s hard but with modern technology I can. I can do anything in the world because of that computer. That’s a luxury many generations have never had and I feel so fortunate.

          What message do your designs and garments share with the world?
            You know, I’m no spiritual guru, but everyone struggles with life, and it’s sometimes hard making sense out of things. So one thing I wanted to focus on was how to bring happiness and good for everything and bring that into my line. So first, our business is set-up to always treat w/ respect, be honest and up-front. And when it comes to the person buying and wearing the clothes, I want them to feel beautiful at the beginning of the day when they’re getting dress.  Because when you put something on that you feel beautiful in, it changes your whole mind-set to a positive and healthy mind-set to start your day. And so, every season we change the quote. So every piece has a positive quote on every tag! Spring 2011’s is its beauty that captures your attention and personality that captures your heart” and for Fall 2011 we have “Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine"

            Where is the most unique place where from which you’ve drawn inspiration for your designs or your line?
              You know it’s kind of funny… {we all broke out in LAUGHTER] Every piece is named after someone I know. The  Jeanie dress is named after Connors mom, classic beautiful,  the Nancy top is named after my mom, and that’s because its super unique and attractive like my mom;  and all my Friends and family that have put me to where I’m at. But where I really draw the most inspiration from, it’s thinking about WHAT I WANNA WEAR AND HOW I WANNA WEAR IT. It’s if I was to go the 4 countries, two in western Europe, two in Asia, what would I want to wear, and  what would stylish and stand out in every country. What outfits, no matter where I went, would people appreciate the style?  

              What designers inspire you the most?
                Alexander McQueen. What he did with his aesthetic, it was so true to what he valued and to women’s construction. His pieces were exquisitely made and were all really well thought through. And as a designer, I totally respected his authenticity, his total vision and passion.
                Donna Karan. She was the 1st woman American designer. After losing her husband she endured a lot and still continued to press on. I respect and admire her started 7 key pieces of dressing and she was the first to do day-to-night wear in the 70’s. Her pieces are really versatile and transition pieces. They’re so wearable. 
                And Stella McCartney. Her pieces are so BEAUTIFUL and are very wearable and I really enjoy her aesthetic.

                Who is your favorite style icon?
                  My Nana [grandma] – In her day, she was absolutely beautiful. She would really make you love your clothes. When I was younger, I mean, I would just be in my nana’s closet because she had all of these beautiful pieces. And just looking at the photo albums on life – I get really inspired.
                  Second, would be Sienna Miller – because she’s wild at heart. She tries new designers and I think it says a lot because she doesn’t have a stylist. I also enjoy self-photographed bloggers.  She’s not consistent with aesthetic but has same undertone style, Atlanticpacific.com & Alex from fourthandbleaker.com aren’t always wearing the same things but you can always see a style undertone which I love. I really am inspired by raw street style.

                  Where do you want the brand to go in the future? 

                    I’d like for it to become a lifestyle brand to touch everyone and any lifestyle. I’d also like for it to grow in accessories.

                    Are there any philanthropic issues or orgs. you’d like to partner with in the future?
                      Yes, a quick fact: there are 90,000 homeless people living in Los Angeles. I think when people are educated, people want the best for everything and you understand how much good is for everyone. A lot of people weren’t taught to think outside of the box and so education is a really big issue for me.  The Alexandria house is an org. that provides tools for a better life and temporary housing for women and families until they are able to provide for themselves. So I’d say Alexandria House and EDUCATION are my two main issues!

                      What is your fondest memory while creating your first line?
                        The Coolest experience is when everything is done. Looking at the completed pieces, I just sat there and thought I have never been more proud of myself. Taking this risk required a lot of heart, I made a lot of mistakes but I stayed with it. Another huge moment is when you have your first sale from a complete stranger. When your line gets a lot are repeat customers it’s a really validating feeling and it’s really special.

                        What is your favorite piece from the fall collection?

                        The Daphne coat. It’s named after my Nana. It’s stylish, comfortable and easy. I love the color and the fit and it’s really styled through and through.  I get compliments from people no matter what the age, and I think it’s great for that because anyone can wear it and look great.

                        Any other thoughts to share with readers?
                          We LOVE connecting back with people on Twitter and facebook. I encourage people to reach out to us, we’re very personable. The positive feedback is so great when we get a message from someone saying how they love their Katie May piece. We want our customers to know, we’re not just a brand, it’s a lot more personal than that.

                          Follow Katie May on Twitter @KatieMay  and on Facebook KatieMayCollection

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