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Meet Kimberly Souliere of Babykakes in West LA

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kimberly Souliere.

Kimberly, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I grew up in Springfield Massachusetts, where my parents were very young, loving and encouraging. My sister and I were both dancers and loved to draw. When I wasn’t in dance class, I would spend countless hours drawing dance costumes and clothing that I wanted to wear. Copying and sketching from fashion editorials in Vogue and Elle and learning to sew with the help of my mom, grandmothers and great-grandmother. When a knee injury jolted me from the possibility of dancing forever, I entered college and discovered my love for the Theater as a costume designer.

I worked on shows all around Boston. Anything from student productions to the opera house, and interning at Blue Man Group. After graduation, I drove across country and moved to LA with my boyfriend with the intention of pursuing theater and film in a costume house. But circumstances had me working two jobs, one waitressing and one working at a cute little boutique on the 3rd Street Promenade. I would show up to my shifts at the boutique wearing my own designs and the owner would ask where I got it from. When I told her that I made it, she told me to “make more!!!” And we would split the sales. This was the turning point for me into fashion.

The official business of Babykakes was created and sales at that tiny boutique were great! It allowed me to learn about running my own business and became familiar with local artist events and music festivals where I could sell my line. I picked up over 15 wholesale accounts across the country and I even earned my MBA while growing the business. Currently, I am raising my son with my partner and focusing full time on Babykakes. Rolling with the punches and riding the highs; it is a constantly changing business and world, but my love for designing clothes never fades.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The recession in 2009 was a hard hit to my business. Many of the small stores I was wholesaling to closed their doors. And sadly, the little boutique in Santa Monica that was really the launching ground for my business decided to retire and close their doors as well. This has been a huge bump in the road for me financially, but my business is hanging on and is growing again!

The hardest part has been that the landscape of fashion and retail has changed so much since starting Babykakes. With so many stores closing their doors and the shift to online retail, it is hard for the small companies to be seen. Walking by a mannequin in a store window that stops you in its tracks has been replaced with sponsored ads on Instagram. And those of us with smaller budgets are not reaching as many people.

Please tell us about Babykakes.
When I started making clothing it was because I saw a lack of uniqueness and vibrancy that was both laid back and comfortable. I wanted a sexy dress for a vacation or dinner date at the beach that wasn’t going to cost me a ton. I also wanted my designs to be easy. Easy to travel with. Easy to stand out in a crowd. Easy to wear. The women that buy my designs feel good wearing them and always get compliments, which keep them coming back to buy more. I’m proud of that and the fact that I still hand make my designs. Designs aren’t mass-produced and when they’re gone, they’re gone! Some pieces are even one-of-a-kind. Working on unique designs, keeping them quality, yet affordable is important to me.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
The only thing I would do differently is take more risks. I feel like I got pretty comfortable in one place with both my life and my business and didn’t really push ahead when I could have. You always think you have so much time to get everything accomplished when you’re first starting out. I have no regrets on any decisions or mistakes I have made. They have all been life lessons and have led me to where I am today.

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Image Credit:
Chris Lee, Heather Toshiko, Jason Nicholson

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