M: Tell us a little bit more about yourself, such as where you grew up, why you love fashion?
Karen Ko: I am really an island girl in the heart! I grew up in Hawaii where my parents ran a fine jewelry retail store. Needless to say, I developed an expensive taste at a young age! My love of fashion grew out of my love for jewelry. You cannot really have one without the other. Fashion allows me to project a certain image but jewelry allows me to define my trademark. Together, they create my own distinct style – which anyone can also do!
M: When did you start designing jewelry? Did you go to school for design or take any classes?
Karen Ko: My jewelry making skills began as a hobby when I was a teenager. However, my design skills did not fully mature until after I graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Jewelry Design program.
M: Why did you start k2o by Karen Ko?
Karen Ko: I found it difficult to find fashion-forward statement jewelry that reflected my personal style. I wanted daring statement pieces that would distinguish me from others. Most of all, I disliked wearing jewelry that everyone else could easily buy. As a result, I chose to develop k2o shortly after graduating from. Taking what I learned outfit, I developed designs that reflected my personal style while still being fashion-forward and I named it k2o.
M: Describe the ideal k2o client, such as who she is, what she wears, what she does?
Karen Ko: The ideal k2o client is a woman who knows herself! She is independent and daring and most certainly a woman who enjoys standing out in a crowd.
M: What have you accomplished so far that you are really proud of?
Karen Ko: I would have to say, taking the leap to start my own business. I started my career in finance and made a decision early on to try to do pursue something I love. Quitting my finance job to start my own company was perhaps one of the scariest things I’ve done but it has also been the most rewarding!
M: What projects are you currently working on?
Currently, I am working on developing my e-commerce platforms (Modern Mix and Gilded Vault) and I hope to be launching my men’s jewelry line soon!
M: Where do you see k2o by Karen Ko in the next five years?
Karen Ko: I definitely hope k2o will become an iconic brand that sets the fashion trends and inspires future brands.