Monday Motivation with Eunice Kim, Founder of Here/Now
Mondays can be rough, and sometimes we can use some motivation. Our #MondayMotivation blog series brings you tips and life hacks from industry leaders and some of the most creative entrepreneurs out there.
Eunice Kim is Founder of Here / Now, a fashion brand for women who love fashionable, but comfortable sneakers. Sold in Nordstrom and Bergdorf Goodman, Eunice’s furry sneakers are favorites of the fashion set and have been featured by Vogue, WWD and The Coveteur. Eunice chatted with PE about the community she’s built with other female founders, how she was inspired to start her company while working at Vogue, and what she learned from her first meeting with a potential buyer.
What inspired you to start your business?
I started Here / Now because I envisioned a sneaker that didn’t yet exist. I have always been a sneaker girl, and when I was working for Vogue, I needed a more fashionable alternative to standard Nikes or Stan Smiths by Adidas. So I took the fur trend and applied it to shoes. When I noticed that my colleagues wanted to wear them as well, I realized that there actually was a market for these whimsical sneakers! It paid off to pursue my idea. Now when I consider our future collections, I always ask myself, what do I want to wear but don’t see out there in the marketplace? Then I just try to make it myself!
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
Not knowing everything! I will never forget my first desk side meeting with the shoe buyers at Barneys New York: as a first-time entrepreneur and owner of a fashion brand, I didn’t know how the retail buying business worked. I showed up to the meeting with samples of my shoes, but I didn’t have showroom samples, so I just brought the sneakers I had been wearing (not the greatest for a shoe display)!
I had to learn what a line sheet was, I had to learn the ins and outs of international shipping and freight. I even had to apply for a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service permit! These were all brand new things I had to learn in a span of two months. Owning my own small startup is so humbling because I learn something new every day, and a learning curve comes with that. But with patience and hard work, it is an incredible journey.
What’s been the greatest reward?
Connecting with the community of like-minded women who are driven, courageous and stylish! Once I put myself out there as a business owner and reached out to organizations like Project Entrepreneur, I entered a new world of women entrepreneurs and freelancers. It is such a supportive network of power women who are all pursuing their passions.
Here / Now shoppers are also an amazing community of stylish working professionals and goal-seekers, and I am so proud we are all wearing Here / Now.
What changes would you most like to see in your industry, and how are you working to make those changes happen?
Acceptance of individuality: our culture is so rooted in [its standard] perceptions of beauty and success, but I want to challenge that. In my column Here / Now With, we shine the spotlight on some truly amazing individuals who are creating change through their craft, business and passions. Providing a platform for added awareness and for them to share their thoughts and experiences has been empowering for me and well-received by our community. I am so excited to share more of their stories—I travel all around the world in search of these trailblazers!
Who or what motivates you to keep going, even when things get tough?
My family and my friends who have believed in me and expect the most out of me! I can’t let them down.
Can you provide a few updates on what’s new with your business or what you’ve accomplished since you attended the PE Intensive in April 2017?
We are launching new sneakers and clothes. I am also spending much more of my time on the small details that strengthen the foundation of my business including the Here / Now website, its content, and how that content gets shared and communicated. Through the PE Intensive, I learned to be much more detail oriented and dedicate time and effort to every aspect of my business, not just the parts I’m good at or like most.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out?
Be fearless. That includes not being afraid to make mistakes. You’ve already taken a huge step to believe in yourself to start a business. You will, without a doubt, find a solution if you make a mistake.
What do you do every Monday morning to prepare and motivate yourself for the coming week?
I try to start every weekday morning with the same routine: a healthy breakfast, in-depth reading of the news, a review of my to-do list. Then I get dressed in something cute (that helps me feel good about the day ahead), and then go!
Photo credit: Sisilia Piring
For more #MondayMotivation, check out our interview with Agathe Assouline-Lichten Co-Founder and CEO of Red Velvet NYC, a subscription service that makes gourmet baking easy by delivering everything you need to create a delicious dessert, including pre-measured ingredients, right to your door. Agathe sat down with PE to discuss what motivated her to start her company, how she’s managing a bootstrapped business, and why it’s so important for entrepreneurs to connect to other founders.