Behind each and every KIM+ONO kimono robe is a story. It’s a story about two sisters growing up in Chinatown, SF and following their dreams. Stitched into every piece is the story of how Renee and Tiffany Tam blended sisterhood and partnership to modern kimono robes to life for the modern woman (and man!). From their childhood beginnings running around their parents’ store in Chinatown to the ethos behind their online shop and kimono store today, the sister duo has put family at the heart of everything they do. Here’s the story of the sisters behind the design of your favorite kimono patterns:
Tiffany Tam, co-founder and Chief Creative Officer, says that Chinatown, where the sisters opened their first brick and mortar kimono store, has always been considered their second home. “We would go almost every day, and on the weekends when we didn’t have school. All the merchants know each other, and it was a place for me to play, help bag items during purchase, and basically see first hand the dedication my parents gave to their business to support our family,” says Tiffany. Renee recalls how hard their parents worked at building their Chinatown business. “Our parents worked 12 hours daily to support the family. When my parents first opened their business in 1980, my mom was pregnant with Tiffany and she worked every day until labor. My Grandma & Uncle taking care of me while my parents are at work.” Tiffany agrees, “Family helping each other out was a huge deal. I also remember my parents coming home for dinner, and many nights my dad would go back out to work to close the shops.”
As the pair grew up, life took them in different professional directions for a while until they came back to the family business. The inspiration from vintage Asian art, traditional Japanese kimono, their family history, and the knowledge gleaned from watching their parents all those years eventually took hold in the shape of KIM+ONO, a brand that would create modern kimono robes for the modern woman. And not only did they create the company, but Renee and Tiffany design each and every piece. Tiffany says, “I love the versatility of kimono robes — how they can be worn at home or styled to go out — worn open over a tee and jeans, as a dress, or as a coverup over a bathing suit. The possibilities are endless and we encourage people to be creative. Renee agrees, “Versatility was so important to us. And because tradition is a huge part of our inspiration, we love how a kimono robe can evolve with your life. From a long kimono cover up to bridal robe to nursing robe and back again to a long kimono cover up. We love hearing feedback from our customers on their expressive individuality & how beautiful their kimono robe makes them feel no matter the occasion.
For Tiffany and Renee, the customer is front of mind whenever they’re creating a design. That’s because they know that the modern woman deserves versatility, comfort, and a little bit of joy brought to her day. Sometimes, as you’re balancing everything from motherhood to work and everything in between, those moments can be difficult to find, and the sisters knew that being able to bring a deeper breath to other women was an important part of every design. Their own experiences with motherhood and entrepreneurship have influenced them at every step of the creative process. Tiffany says, “It’s really hard trying to find a balance in work and family. I always feel guilty like a bad mom when I need to work late shifts/weekends and end up spending less time with my daughter. But I hope that it shows her that she too can work hard, be a proud Asian woman, and not be afraid to achieve her dreams.” Renee adds that her husband “and I run our own businesses which is great because it gives us a flexible schedule. The hard part is that we work 24/7. After a few health scares, we realized that we had to reprioritize and move focus to “me” & “family”. Though I still passionately run KIM+ONO, I have now reprioritized to spend more time with my family and rely more on my amazing team to help run KIM+ONO while I oversee it.”
Each and every design that Tiffany and Renee create comes from an intention to bring more breath and beauty into your everyday moments. But it’s not just about the designs for these two entrepreneurs. Tiffany says, “As this company is growing, these questions come into mind: What can we do to have a bigger impact in our community, on today’s society, to make this world a better place? It has become more apparent to me what our goal is - to be more impactful in empowering women. Renee adds, “We make kimono robes so that wo(men) of all races, genders, sizes, and backgrounds can feel beautiful in their own skin.” Tiffany agrees and notes that the kimono store is the physical embodiment of the safe and loving space they’re trying to create with KIM+ONO online. She says, “Just the other day, I had a customer track me down and share her experience with me. She found us online while searching for a kimono robe, and fell in love with our brand and story. Then came to the store and purchased a few kimono robes. Then a few days later, brought her cousin (who was going through a rough time) to the store and gifted her a kimono robe. Later that evening her cousin called to tell her that she just took a shower and was wearing the lovely robe and that she felt beautiful in it, and to truly thank her for bringing her to the store and giving her such an amazing and fun experience to brighten her day. The customer was choking up when she was telling me this, and my eyes started to water. If we can make a person feel good about themselves with what we do, then that hits me right in the heart. That is our mission.”
Whenever you slip into your favorite kimono robe, our wish for you is to know the intention and story behind every piece is one of women supporting women. We believe in you, see your beauty, and can’t wait to see how you stitch your own story into your own kimono robe.