Happy Birthday Dear Kiyonna…
23 Years. You are 23 years old. Just writing that seems a bit odd and unreal and surreal and fantastic all at the same time.
When we first began in 1996, things were a little different remember? We cut a lot of fabric swatches and glued them to linesheets to send to store owners who we hoped and prayed would carry the line. We chased down UPS drivers to take our packages at the end of each day because we couldn’t afford our own account. We went from inventory all over the apartment floor in LA, to bursting out of every closet, to Public Storage, to building after building to bigger and bigger warehouses. And remember the first time we went to the mall to really do research on the idea of bringing stylish apparel to women of all sizes, a concept which didn’t seem like a big deal to any bank or investor? Remember our first website in 1999 and how I didn’t believe anyone would ever order clothing online? Remember the awe, sadness and excitement we felt when we looked at the mall directory and there was only 1 store listed for 60% of the population?
Back then things were different, but things are the same too. You have grown to something bigger than me and I’m so proud of you. I’m proud of you because we still make everything in the US. 100% still. I’m proud of you because we’ve expanded over the years to keep answering the needs of our beautiful customers. We’ve gone down to the 0x, up to the 5x, we’ve turned heads at weddings with special occasion, shared countless of wedding days with brides in our wedding gowns, and there was even swimwear, lingerie and denim for a moment too!
Along the way, you’ve taught me to trust my instincts, and to develop my genius and be aware of my blindspots. During our time together, I fell in love, got married, and got lucky enough that my husband would one day even be my partner. For this I am eternally grateful. Our babies grew up with Kiyonna, with their little desks, pink chairs, and their custom artwork still a part of my office. Together we have been the recipients of the talents of an amazing team, a group of people I will never forget, whom I admire and love. We have served as stepping stone for some to realize amazing opportunity in the world beyond, and we are surrounded with an amazing team today (and some old-timers too) that keep the excellence flowing and make the place feel like home.
Thank you for 23 great years. I’m still in awe of you and can’t wait for what’s next.
With gratitude and love,