Today we’d like to introduce you to Kazumi Arikawa.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I’m Kazumi. I moved from New York City to Los Angeles about a year ago. Before I moved to Los Angeles, I was working as a designer for a large company doing a mundane 9-5 job. It paid my bills and provided me financial security but, I wasn’t really inspired. To be honest, I was bored out of my mind and it kind of felt like I was slowly dying inside going to work everyday.
Then my son was born. That changed my life. My desire to spend as much time with him was very strong, so with a little push and major support from my partner, I decided to start my own business.
My company, Kids Own the Universe, started as a way to tame the some of the struggles of being a first-time parent in a big city. It came from not finding the right baby accessories anywhere and I felt compelled to make my own.
Has it been a smooth road?
Nope, no hell no. It’s been quite a journey. Being a first time mom and first time entrepreneur have many parallels. You walk into it thinking you know it. But every day is a challenge.
When I worked for a large fashion company, I was assigned to do a specific job, but now I literally do EVERYTHING. I knew how to develop products but I didn’t know anything else. Sourcing to manufacturing, duty shipping to packaging, not to forget marketing, branding, legal crap and list goes on! But the good thing is that I’m a lot smarter than I was a year ago.
I have to find the drive to keep going when things don’t go the way you expected. I try to stay focused by tackling the problem one at a time, and try to find the best solution available.
It’s not easy to run business and be a mom at the same time. Finding the right balance is the most challenging part.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Kids Own the Universe – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I’m proud of finally getting the first Kids Own the Universe Parent Essentials Pack into the hands of moms and dads. The feedback has been fantastic! Parents absolutely love the product, proving that the concept is sound. Changing diapers can be stylish, easier and a little fun.
What sets me apart is my 16 year experience in apparel design and product development. I worked as a designer for Ralph Lauren, Helmut Lang and Theory. I tapped into my experience into solving needs for parents through smart and sassy products.
All of the products from Kids Own the Universe are conceived and prototyped by me and tested with my mom buddies.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
As a working mom, LA is much more convenient when it comes to getting around. Rather than carrying a 25 lb baby and a 40 lb stroller down flights of stairs to use subway, LA’s car culture makes traveling with a baby more convenient.
I do enjoy the mild weather all year round in LA, but at the same time I miss having 4 seasons.
I think the thing I miss about a densely packed city is having more convenience. I was born in Tokyo and grew up in NY, so I am used to longer business hours and having things more centrally located. I miss getting on my bike to get late night snacks in East Village and Koenji, or walking down to my bodega in PJs to pick up whatever I need. I’ve adjusted though and love not having to wait in a 30 minute line at TJ’s.
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