Profiled: Designer Anita Ko on How to Grow a Fashion Business
You may not immediately recognise the name of jewellery designer Anita Ko, but you surely recognise the nomenclature of her clientele: Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Jessica Alba, January Jones, Naomit Watts, and Amber Heard are all serious fans—and that's just a short list.
Ko, based in Los Angeles, founded her namesake fine jewellery line in 2006, and since then has blown up in the celebrity and influencer style set. Crafted of precious gems and metals, Ko's claim to fame is being the first to take fine jewellery into an edgy yet approachable realm—a look and feel that is now commonly spotted on It-girls, editors, and celebrities alike.
We had the chance to sit down with Ko for a one-on-one interview and asked her about her path to success. Keep scrolling to read all about how Anita Ko started her own fashion business, and her tips for propserity!
"I think the smartest advice is to come up with your own look—with jewellery especially, the greatest challenge is that so much has been done already and you really have to twist that and come up with your own angle. Also, I think you should start small and organically; just because you may design a gorgeous ring doesn’t mean you’re going to have a business. There’s so much more than comes into play—the only advice I can give is to start small, start slow, figure out your look, figure out what stores you want to get into, and don’t over-commit yourself. Really create what you like, but at the same time, stay away from things that are already out there in the market."
"When I was about 22, I had all my handbags stolen. I left my job and transferred over into doing a handbag line for two or three years. I designed this bag using vintage fabric. I ran into this woman at a nail salon, and she loved it and said if I made more styles, she would rep me. It was called Trash Bags—that bag line is how I kind of got my first experience to work, so when I was ready to start my jewellery line, I just did it."
"Fashion is a very hard business, and it takes a lot of determination, passion, and love for what you do to succeed. There’s room for every type of person in the fashion industry, and if you want to work in fashion, they just have to ask themselves what that might be. There are many, many aspects of fashion, so you just need to figure out what your gifts are and what you can offer the fashion business."
"I would tell my 17-year-old self that success doesn’t come as quickly as you hope it will; you really do have to build a foundation. I think also when I was younger, I took myself a lot more seriously than I do now. I would have told myself to enjoy the process more and to give myself time, don’t take myself too seriously, that the designs in the first few years do not define you as a designer. Don't be so hard on myself the first few years. You’re going to get better. Whoever you are then, you’re going to grow and become more sophisticated."
"Helping people out along the way is really important—I think a lot of people have helped me along the way, so I try to give back to other designers who need help. I’ve been so grateful along the way that I’ve had so many wonderful people support me and wear my pieces. That’s been huge for me, and it's what has kept me marching on when I wanted to quit. When I’ve had challenges, the support I’ve received from friends and celebrities and stylists who have been so incredibly supportive, who realy helped lift me to the place where I could move forward. I’ve been so ultimately grateful how wonderful people can be."