Since the beginning, our kimono robes have been stitched together using a common thread: family. For 30 years, the business has remained family owned and operated. Launching first as a small boutique in Chinatown under the name Old Shanghai, to its recent transformation into KIM+ONO, the business has evolved and grown into the apparel brand it is today.
Renee and Tiffany, the sister duo now behind the brand, were first allured by kimono as little girls. Together with their parents, they spent weeks visiting silk villages, meeting with vendors, artisans, and other craftsmen who have been preserving the art of kimonos for generations. As the sisters grew older, they became more involved in the family business, eventually taking it over in 2004. Since then, Renee and Tiffany continue to infuse a modern aesthetic, paired with timeless techniques, to craft beautiful, everyday kimono robes.
At the heart of KIM+ONO is the idea that family can be a comfort and a joy. Each floral kimono robe is crafted to be a piece that brings you that same comfort and joy – a reminder that you matter, you are seen, and you belong. So today on the journal, we’re celebrating the idea of family and all the ways you can celebrate your family (given or chosen) and strengthen your community with the relationships you build.
The most beautiful thing about families is that they look different for everyone. Sometimes they are your biological family, sometimes your adoptive parents, sometimes they are your friends, your community, your place of worship, your school, your neighbors. Family is less of a defined group of people, and more of an idea, feeling, and sense of belonging. When we opened our kimono store, we wanted our space to feel like home to you, so you could come in and feel like you belonged. We aimed for our physical space to be a place where you could take a deep breath, relax, and let go. Who are the people who allow you that sort of release? Those people are your family.
During this challenging spring, and with the death of George Floyd, many people are looking at their communities with renewed attention. At KIM+ONO, we’ve individually been introspective about what communities we’re a part of and why. It’s important to us to make sure we’re not centering ourselves, but instead, reaching out to and interacting with communities beyond our small corner of the world. We lose something beautiful and important when learning from, listening to, and connecting with diverse voices and experiences isn’t a part of our everyday lives. As we move forward into re-opening our kimono store, and as it becomes safer and safer to hold events in our space, we will be centering events by Black women-owned entrepreneurs and brands in our shop. Our goal is to make sure our kimono store feels like home to everyone and that we use it as a space where our community can come together on a regular basis.
Part of celebrating and honoring families is recognizing where there’s still work to do for equality and justice. Not every family is given the same access, care, and support. In the past year, there has been standardized testing across all fifty states that showed just how unequal healthcare can be for Black mothers. According to NBC News, a study by the CDC conducted between 2007-2016 showed that Black mothers died at a rate of 3.2 times that of white mothers. This is unacceptable and unjust. When we celebrate families, we can’t forget that to do so also requires looking at the systemic racism and obstacles families face. Earlier this month, our team chose to donate to Black Women’s Blueprint, which envisions a world where women and girls of African descent are fully empowered, and where gender, race and other disparities are erased. Every family deserves support at every stage of life.
Sisters and co-founders Renee and Tiffany have created a family of flower kimono robes to bring a little more comfort and joy to your day. Although our history and our family have set the foundation for the company, you remain our inspiration. When you share how you wear your flower kimono robe as you begin your busy day, or slip on a kimono wrap at night, or lounge at home in your favorite piece for some extra self care, we are filled up every time we see you full of confidence, exuding the beautiful person you are.
Renee and Tiffany have created a brand that’s devoted to making you feel amazing, beloved, and confident. To create the women’s kimono robes that have become a signature product for KIM+ONO, Renee took all she learned from her parents and poured it into the company. She says, “I’m lucky to work with my best friend (Tiffany). We grew up sharing the highs and lows that come with running a family business. I’m so excited we decided to join together to run KIM+ONO as I couldn’t have found a more perfect partner.” The KIM+ONO brand may have started with the Tam family, but it’s built outward to see you, our customer, as part of our family too. Tiffany explains, “As this company is growing, these questions come to mind: What can we do to have a bigger impact in our community, on today’s society, to make this world a better place?” You are our inspiration and making a difference in your life is what we strive to do. Tiffany adds, “If we can make you feel good about yourself with what we do, then that hits me right in the heart. That is our mission.”
Family has always been right at the center of our story and mission. And we hope with learning and growth, we can ensure that every woman we serve feels that she belongs here and that she is beautiful from the inside out.