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Meet Karol Bartoszynski of Karol B Clothing in Huntington Park

Today we’d like to introduce you to Karol Bartoszynski.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Karol. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area & always had a fondness for dressing up & making costumes.

It was a hobby for most of my life until I sold my first costume in 2005. The following year, I found an agent in San Francisco who helped me find a few customers for costume commissions.

In 2007, I moved to LA to pursue a master’s degree but ended up looking for opportunities to get involved in the film industry. I got accepted into the Costume Designers Guild, but only found a few jobs as an extra, set painter or wardrobe assistant, before eventually going back to my old career as a surgical technician.

At the same time, I started running my own events for fun.

Since my teens, I have been a big Mad Max fan. After finding other fans online, I started running fan events. This eventually led to me co-founding Wasteland Weekend in 2010, which continues to be the world’s largest post-apocalyptic festival. I continue to be involved in the community & it’s a big influence on my style.

After a few years of job burnout & the pressures of running a festival, I decided to leave it all behind & put all of my focus on starting my own clothing business in 2015.

There were a lot of lessons learned, but things have worked out & I feel like I have found a passion I can pursue for the rest of my life. I enjoy having full creative freedom & running my own business. Today, I continue to produce my own jackets, dresses & pants here in Los Angeles.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Shortly after moving to LA, the Great Recession hit. Although I had a lot in savings at the time, I made some financial mistakes early on that made it tough to pursue my passions.

I had a string of jobs that left me depressed & demoralized. It took me some time to regain my hope & ambition.

I lost my father to heart disease in 2011 & that led to me to have to face a lot of my fears for years to come.

I bootstrapped a festival. It was a lot of sacrifice, with little reward, but I did gain an incredible network of friends through it, as well as a lot of creative inspiration.

I had to bootstrap my business. Things have stabilized since running my own fashion business, but I’ve made some mistakes that it took months to recover from.

Even today, I’m trying to find ways to leverage what I’ve built to help pay off my student loans & credit card debt. It’s been a struggle the whole time. I hope it becomes less of a struggle soon.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Karol B Clothing – what should we know?
I run an online shop that is built around my fashion designs. I design & manufacture jackets, pants, hoodies, dresses & accessories.

I am known for my jackets & my backpacks, which are what gives me the greatest pride.

My years as a Mad Max fan, along with my involvement in Wasteland Weekend, has given my products a predominantly post-apocalyptic look. I also sell a few supplies for DIY costume makers.

Since I come at this from more of a costume designer angle, I like to design things that are a bit more fun & look more like a costume from a superhero or science-fiction movie or something worn by a rock star. I set out from the beginning to be different & stand out.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I’ve had a lot of support from the Wasteland Weekend & post-apocalyptic community. They’ve supported my business & are a constant source of inspiration.

My ex-girlfriend’s knowledge over all things related to retail & technical issues was very helpful. Her presence in my life also helped provide a lot of the motivation for me to keep struggling.

Aside from the few boutiques that have helped support me by purchasing from me, I have a local customer, Wayne, who has purchased about a dozen of my items so far & encourages me.

Pricing:

  • Wanderer Jacket – $199.99
  • Fraktur Mark-II Jacket – $449.99
  • Atomic Slug Deluxe Backpack – $89.99

Contact Info:


Image Credit:

Karol Bartoszynski, Emily Gummig

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