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Meet Katie Brown

Today we’d like to introduce you to Katie Brown.

Katie, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Before starting Katie Brown LA (KBLA) I was a restauranteur for over a decade, opening five restaurants with my best friend. When we were selling our last restaurant, I decided to do something else and I knew it needed to be entrepreneurial. I was sitting outside on a gorgeous, warm October afternoon, giving this question some deep thought. I saw a woman walking into the ballet school across the street, wearing a classic, striped boatneck.

I thought “I’ve always LOVED that timeless style, but I don’t have a brand that I love!”. So I decided then and there to start my own line of classic, timeless basics. I also knew right away that my line would be made in the USA. In our restaurants, we focused on Slow Food – high quality, locally sourced food. KBLA would represent Slow Fashion – high quality, locally sourced clothing. The opposite of Fast Fashion.

That was seven years ago. I’m happy to say that I was right: women are longing for well made, classic basics. KBLA is designed to be your foundational, go-to fav’s, the pieces that you reach for over and over again.

As a society, as a human race, we would benefit greatly by becoming more conscientious around our consumerism. Hyper-consumerism is not sustainable. Fast Fashion is not sustainable. Understanding the story behind the brands you support is so important. We as the consumer make the decisions as to which companies make it.

The story matters.

Has it been a smooth road?
Starting a company, a fashion line is far from glamorous. Luckily, glamour doesn’t appeal to me. Creating social change is what appeals to me.

As the solo founder of KBLA, it has been an incredibly challenging road – and also stunningly rewarding. I’ve been bootstrapping and carving out the path in front of me, year after year. I’ve learned a TON. I’ve driven up and down the I-5 in my old Land Cruiser, walking into high-end boutiques (Ojai, Mill Valley, Napa, Portland) asking to see the owner with a box of KBLA in hand. I did this because no one would return my emails. Once the owners saw/felt the KBLA line, they always placed orders. Then I got to learn about things like not being able to sell to boutiques within a certain radius, net/30, line sheets, trade shows… how wholesale worked.

I’ve missed having a business partner. The power of collaboration is undeniable. When you are creating something from nothing, whether it’s a restaurant or a clothing line, there are so many choices. Having someone who is standing next to you, working through issues, figuring things out, that’s powerful.

I’m thrilled to say that I have just brought on a business partner. Her name is Allie Fuller. We met because she attended a KBLA Trunk Show in Portland over three years ago. Over the following three years, she bought more and more KBLA, becoming my #1 customer. She gets the vision and mission for KBLA. She’s amazing. I am ecstatic to be working with her as we take KBLA and grow this mission-driven company.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
KBLA is a consolidated line of sophisticated, classic, timeless basics, made in LA. At KBLA we focus on comfort, versatility, classic style. Most women are longing for great basics. The concept of Slow Fashion is emerging again.

Most women have their closets and dresser drawers stuffed to the gills, and yet they usually wear 15% of what they own. If we collectively realign our relationship with our closets, only owning what we love, we will reep the rewards on so many levels.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
I absolutely LOVE LA for apparel manufacturing. I wouldn’t do it any other way. People have tried to get me to go overseas… no way. Why? To save a dollar or two per unit? Or $5 per unit? To perpetuate the horrendous reality around fast disposable fashion? No thank you. I’m committed to producing here on American soil. It creates jobs here. It reduces the carbon footprint of transportation. It amplifies the “Slow Fashion” mindset. It allows us easier access to vetting our partners.

As I like to say (and had painted on the back wall of the KBLA brick and mortar): “The Story Matters”.

Because it does.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Photographer – Laura Dart

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