How She’s Managing: KatKim Designer Katherine Kim

Every Thursday during the pandemic, we’ll be checking in on members of the jewelry trade in an attempt glean shareable tips and tricks for a better and more productive quarantine (and for many, reopening).

Today we hear from jewelry designer Katherine Kim, founder of young fine fashion jewelry brand KatKim.

JCK: Where are you based, and how has quarantine been for you? Are you still in quarantine? If so, who are you living with? 

Katherine Kim: I’m quarantining in Manhattan Beach, Calif., with my husband and two daughters. Before all this, we would usually see each other around 8 p.m. every day—so I really appreciate this time with them. 

Describe your work life in quarantine.

For the most part, I’ve always worked from home, but having to simultaneously homeschool my two girls has been challenging. I honestly haven’t had much time to get anything done. The little time that I do have, I try to make it as productive as possible. 

Katherine Kim kids painting
Kim’s daughter working on a new masterpiece
Katherine Kim and daughters
Top and above: Katherine Kim, founder of KatKim, with her two daughters

How has the pandemic changed your business plans for 2020 and beyond?

We’ve been trying to mitigate the impact of the pandemic and are taking steps to adapt to the economic and consumer shifts that are happening. Online presence is crucial—more than ever—so we’re putting more focus on our direct-to-consumer model and establishing meaningful virtual relationships.

Has having so much time at home been good for your creativity or detrimental, and how so?   

I think this is a good time to step out of your comfort zone and try something new like a new workout, a recipe, or read a book you normally wouldn’t read. The point is to find ways to release dopamine, which usually comes from novelty and surprises that spark new inspiration and motivation. 

How has your heart and mind been reacting to the recent BLM protests spurred by the death of George Floyd?

It’s heartbreaking that we’ve allowed and overlooked these senseless acts for so long. Watching everything unfold has been deeply saddening. It’s [shocking] how equal human rights still have to be fought for. This injustice has to stop, and I’m so glad that this movement is inspiring change. I believe that this generation is going to be a group that will change the world—and will have no disparity when it comes to social economic and justice issues.

How do you hope the protests and larger movements will impact the jewelry industry?

I hope we see…more inclusive hiring processes to ensure that a diverse range of candidates is considered for all open positions. And also find more ways to advance and give space to Black designers and other creators.

KatKim ear pin
A recent diamond-studded version of the brand’s much-copied ear pin 
Katherine Kim cooking
Kim cooking at home
Katherine Kim Marfa
Kim at the Prada store in Marfa, Texas—one of the many travel photos she’s revisited fondly

How have you been relaxing or mentally escaping during quarantine?

I’ve been using this opportunity to revisit old photos and watch videos I took of my travels. It’s been a rejuvenating source of inspiration for me to see them again and to feel physically transported. This is the imagination I want to immerse myself in right now. I take comfort in the past.

Do you have any good book/TV/movie/podcast recommendations?

I’m currently reading Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou. She is so genuine and has the most comforting voice. I highly recommend it. 

katkim ring
Kim’s KatKim ring designs are especially dynamic and creative.

(All photos courtesy of Katherine Kim/KatKim)

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JCK Senior Editor

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