When sisters Tiffany and Renee Tam were growing up in San Francisco, Chinatown was a second home to them. That’s because from a young age, they’d spend time at their parents’ store, eventually working there and getting an inside look at the family business. From taking trips with their parents to Asia to see how to work with artisans and vendors to helping their parents run the businesses on Grant Avenue, the Tams have now brought their experience and family heritage to their own kimono online store, as well as their very own brick and mortar shop on the same street in Chinatown. We sat down with Renee and Tiffany to take an inside look at what inspired their business and how they’re hoping to contribute to the neighborhood that has given them so much.
We fell in love with the look and culture of traditional kimonos when we were little girls. We’d travel with our parents to Asia when they were sourcing for their store, meeting artisans and local vendors, seeing their beautiful handcrafted work and it gave us a deep appreciation for these beautiful pieces. Traditional kimonos from Japan can range from formal to casual, and we were inspired to bring that same range of wearability to a modern kimono robe. We felt there was a sartorial space where inspiration from the traditional kimono could meet the dynamism of the modern woman, and that’s where KIM+ONO was born.
It’s awesome! Building a business together is obviously a big adventure, there are lots of highs and lots of lows. But we’ve both found our roles in cultivating different parts of the brand. Renee leads us in building out our kimono online store, and Tiffany heads up our brick and mortar location. We are constantly collaborating and communicating, and our shared history of working in our family business has given us a great vocabulary to “just get” each other. We’ve also been able to build up an incredible team, so we feel very lucky to do what we do every day.
The perfect kimono outfit is whatever makes a woman (or man!) feel beautiful and powerful. We have taken inspiration from Asian vintage art and traditional kimonos to design our modern kimono robes. Whether it’s a floral pattern or a touch of lace, every kimono outfit can be styled casually or formally. We love dressing up a casual jeans and tee with silk kimono robe, but we also love wearing a kimono robe as a light jacket over a more formal dress. And of course, we love to lounge in luxury! Whatever makes you feel beautiful is the best kimono outfit for you.
We’ve always wanted to be a wellness hub in Chinatown. This neighborhood has done so much for us and has such a rich culture and history, we wanted to give back with a space that helps you to breathe a little easier as soon as you walk into the space. Beyond our kimono robes, we have handcrafted goods, like candles, palo santo, journals, and tea, from other artisans we love. Whether you’re shopping with us in Chinatown or online, we want you to feel like you can relax, slow down a bit and add a little luxury to your everyday.
Thanks for reaching out and it’s a great question! While our founders have taken inspiration from the traditional kimono, these are not meant to be exact representations of the traditional garment. In terms of how the kimono robes wrap, they are meant to more closely resemble the way a modern robe closes. Hope that helps to clarify!