A Note from Jane
I am so excited to launch our Jane Win Girl Gang interview series. As you all know, supporting other female led brands is important to me and this initiative has been months in the making. The idea behind the series is this: I am obsessed with my girl gang. I always call our all-female team the JW Girl Gang (sorry Mr. Jane Win, I swear you are included!). I adore all of my friends and the women in my life. I have 4 daughters. When I shop, I actively choose to support brands that are female owned and operated. I love it when I see women making a mark, building the life they want and doing things their way,
I consider each of our Jane Win customers members of the JW Girl Gang. I love DMing with you all about new boots, haircuts, dresses, and of course helping you find the perfect Jane Win piece for yourself, or for a member of your girl gang. We are launching this Interview Series as a way to share brands that we consider a part of our gang. I have a feeling that if I love a brand, you will love it!
We are so excited to kick off the series with a woman and designer that I admire so much- Kathy Kuo of Kathy Kuo Home. Enjoy, and don't forget to enter our Valentine's Day Giveaway with Kathy Kuo to win a $1,800 shopping spree here.
Kathy! We are so excited to launch our Girl Gang series with you as our first interview. THANK YOU for taking the time to chat with us today.
Give us a little background on you. Where did you get your start and when did you find your signature style?
I’ve always had a passion for interiors. Throughout my childhood my father was a diplomat and we frequently moved between the Asias and Americas. I saw this as an opportunity to create new homes everywhere we went and integrate meaningful objects from my travels into each space. This instilled both an appreciation for good design and love for beautifully crafted products at a young age.
This passion led me to the Rhode Island School of Design, where I studied Industrial Design, and later into the television industry with appearances on home renovation shows. After that, I worked designing and developing furniture and textiles for a luxury importer. From there, I spent a few years working for different companies in the home space - including Bed, Bath & Beyond where I led their tabletop division. The experiences, insights and understanding of product design, manufacturing and global distribution later became the building blocks and inspiration for Kathy Kuo Home.
I’d describe my personal style as classically-inspired, layered and elegant. I think this translates heavily into Kathy Kuo Home - both through our assortment and the designs we create. That being said, we are unique in that we are known for not having one signature style, but rather embracing and elevating the personal style of our clients.
I am obsessed with your style and love how you have incorporated all of these experiences into your brand. Where do you find inspiration?
Throughout my career, I’ve found most of my inspiration from my travels and the different cultures that I’ve been fortunate enough to experience throughout my life.
Post-college I lived in Europe for 6 months modeling between Milan, Spain and Germany. I was captivated by their history and how their architecture and interiors were a reflection of their foundation and life values at the time. They told their stories through art and the beauty that they built around them, many of which are still standing today.
A few years later, I had the opportunity to work in product development within the high end home space, continuing my exploration of world craftsmanship. From incredible experiences like Berber carpet weaving in Morocco to Vietnam’s 12-step lacquering process, via a family in India who worked with copper hand-hammering, it just reinforced my love for handmade furniture and ancient production techniques. There’s something so beautiful knowing that these techniques were passed down through generations of artisans, tradesmen and small family businesses - these travels still inspire me to this day!
That is incredible! It sounds like travel has always been a huge part of your life. Where is your favorite place to travel and why?
I’ve fallen in love with so many incredible places, it’s hard to choose! The places that I love most are definitely those that I’ve had the opportunity to fully immerse myself in, in terms of cultural traditions - from food to style and everything in between.
To name a few, I love Southeast Asia, with a special admiration for the Aman resorts in Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia. They are so beautifully designed and built into the fabric of their environments. I'm obsessed with the Amanjena in Morocco (where Bonjovi was staying when I was there), and the Mamounia. The Corte San Pietro in Matera Italy, designed by Alex Vervoordt is one of my favorites as well for it's deep history and homage to traditional ways of building and living in caves. All of this speaks to my love of history, culture, and the incredible artistry that comes from cultures that have different language, music and religions than our own here.
We love your blog Kuotable women and the way you celebrate other women in the design world and lifestyle space. Tell us more about that mission and why it is so important to you.
Celebrating other women has been a passion of mine for a very long time. It is so exciting that we are in a part of recent history where we’re realizing that our genders do not define our abilities (although the ability to carry future generations is a superpower!) and we can aspire to be all the things we want, and not feel that we have the cultural biases against our gender based on generations before us.
Women also, due to evolutionary biology, tend to have excellent instincts, deeper empathy and the ability to multi-task - which is what makes women incredible thought leaders as well as compassionate, caring friends. If we pushed the mental and societal barriers aside, imagine how much we could do!
In terms of the brand mission, I have always believed it is important to use whatever platform you have to lift others up, and we strive for that with Kathy Kuo Home Whether it be through our social media, email or blog - we try to leverage our channels to share the stories of other women and brands that inspire us and will continue to do so as our brand evolves.
I also think it's imperative to surround yourself with other inspired women who believe in your cause - this creates the opportunity to have conversations and build relationships that can aid in growth for this space. I’m proud to say that the majority of our leadership and team members are women, and that most of our trade program members and vendors are female-led brands as well. We are female-founded, female-driven, and female-powered.
We are all about supporting other female owned small businesses. Who should we have our eye on?
There are so many amazing small businesses out there it’s hard to choose! One of my personal favorites is luxury essential oils and candle brand Bija Essence, which combines the power of human touch, aromatherapy and Ayurvedic science. Founded by Evelyn Subramaniam - a woman very dear to my heart - her brand is devoted to helping women connect and care for their wellbeing.
You are a tv personality, business owner, designer, and MOM! How do you balance it all??? Any tips???
As with raising children or building your own brand, it really does take a village! I attribute so much of what I’ve been able to accomplish, personally and professionally, to having a fantastic team around me.
At work, I have an incredible team of very smart creatives that I trust implicitly. Because of them, I am able to delegate when needed, and focus on the priorities to keep everything running smoothly.
At home, I have a full time live-in nanny. She’s been my lifeline for the last 8 years and anticipates all my needs - sometimes before I do. I couldn’t raise two kids and have a career without her - she’s truly part of my family and I am very lucky to have her.
Love love love your Jane Win #neckmess. You have a strong coin, the wishbone, and the Scorpio and Aquarius pendants for your kids’ zodiacs. Tell us more about why you chose each piece.
I love so many pieces on the Jane Win site, but selected those that resonated most. I started with the astrology pendants for the two most important people in my life, my children, Maya and Didi. Maya is a Scorpio, just like myself, and Didi is an Aquarius.
Next, I chose the Strong coin - as a mother and business leader it’s important that I carry strength with me everywhere I go. I also paired it with a beautiful curb chain that has a Malachite bead, which is a symbol of transformation and positive change. I love this, as it is so important to me to always be growing and improving.
Lastly, I added the wishbone. It is such a beautiful and simple piece of jewelry - and who doesn't need a bit of luck these days!
One final fun question! What (other than a mask lolllll) do you never leave home without nowadays?
As a mom on the go, and never knowing where my phone or wallet is, I’m obsessed with the phone straps from Bandolier. They’re comfortable, fashionable and hold the critical contents from my wallet / and my phone and I can just walk out with that. It also has an Airpod accessory + additional other accessories in case you want to clip it on. It sounds so geeky and dorky, but I promise it’s not!
I also love my Dior Lip Glow. It’s always by my desk for a quick zoom touch up, or when I leave the house in the event that I need a quick pick me up.
I look forward to a day when my jacket pockets aren’t filled with mini hand sanitizers, and Korean N95’s!
Thank you so much Kathy for being such a fabulous first interview! Don't forget to enter our Valentine's Day giveaway to win an $1,800 shopping spree to Jane Win, Kathy Kuo Home, Addison Bay, Oliphant, Red Clay, and Dogwood Hill here.