At the heart of KIM+ONO is the idea that we are stronger in community than we are alone. For sisters and co-founders Renee and Tiffany, family and community have been the common thread from the beginning. Their family’s small Chinatown boutique called Old Shanghai eventually transformed into what KIM+ONO is today: a handcrafted kimono company specializing in silk floral robes and charmeuse botanical print kimonos.
To us, community means strength and support. On a small scale, the KIM+ONO team works together to support each other and keep our momentum moving forward. We know that no person is an island and that it would be impossible for a single person to accomplish what a team can. Then, on a bigger scale, our community expands further and includes the artisans we work with, the fellow Chinatown businesses we collaborate with, the locals and tourists who stop by our shop and support us, and yes, even the folks who read our journal—like you! Together, we form a web of exchange. No matter who you are, if you identify with our sisterhood, then you’re welcome as part of our community.
Community can take many forms: family, friends, neighbors, professional and creative networks, fellow hobbyists, and more. However, if you don’t have the kind of community that you’re looking for yet, it could be a wonderful opportunity to create one yourself. Growing a community you love can be a very rewarding experience. Today in the journal, we’ll explore what steps you can take to turn an idea for a community into reality. Learn how to grow a community you love today!
Speak Your Values
Speaking your values starts with getting clarity on what your values are in the first place. Committing some time towards meditative thought or journaling can be very helpful in identifying what values you’d love to plant as seeds for your community. Once you’ve done this, you’ll have a map that helps you make decisions, both at the beginning and down the road. Making a conscious and intentional effort to speak your values means moving from thought into speech—and subsequently, action. This helps make sure that the community you grow stays close to what you think is most important.
One of the most important aspects of growing a community is not to go at it alone. Lean on others for support and encouragement, and trust that there will be folks who will step up and help you achieve what you want to achieve. There is value and strength in numbers. Even if your vision is to play the role of community leader, you can avoid the trappings of isolation by identifying others who share in your vision. Bring these folks into your community and see how a shared mission can help buoy all members.
Another key step for growing a community you love is to leave room for learning. Yes, growing a community takes commitment and forward energy, but don’t forget to leave room for practice, growth, and mistakes. Give yourself some breathing space to figure things out. There’s no perfect blueprint for growing a community since each one is so unique, but by listening to others and appreciating diversity in thought and experience, you can foster acceptance. Keep an open mind to avoid getting frustrated by unexpected twists and turns, which are inevitable in any kind of undertaking.
Confidence is an important ingredient in the process of growing a community. How does one go about growing confidence in something they might not have done before? First, identify your personal strengths. Think about feedback you’ve gotten before in group scenarios. Remember what roles you naturally tend to fall into. Is it the innovator? The detail keeper? The one who gets the word out? Or the one who can go above and beyond on a very specific task?
Equally important to identifying your strengths is to also identify your weaknesses. Here’s why: these areas are where you can delegate or seek support from someone who’s opposite from you. Their strengths could be exactly what you need! Community is about individuals coming together and contributing what they can towards the whole. It’s about puzzling together the pieces that each member brings to the table. Feeling confident in your own leadership can create a healthy environment for balanced contributions by others in your community. At KIM+ONO, we specifically set out to make you feel confident in your own skin because we know that your most empowered self is rooted in confidence.
Our next tip for growing a community you love is to make sure that you balance rest with accountability. It can be hard to slow down and take a step back when you need to, but self-care is so important to us because it’s a reminder that you have intrinsic value. Whether it’s pausing to take a breath and slip into your favorite floral silk robe, or devoting some time to your wellness routine in the evening, self-care is foundational to why we do what we do. Striking a balance between rest and forward motion helps ensure that your community-building efforts are sustainable.
Seek Out Inspiration
Lastly, we encourage you to cultivate inspiration for your community. After stretches of isolation or repetitiveness, inspiration can easily fade. Holding onto your “why”—or speaking your values, as we mentioned at the beginning—will help you overcome inevitable obstacles. Inspiration can be found in art, nature, music, films, writing, or even simple observation. At KIM+ONO, we draw inspiration not only from various styles of traditional Chinese brushwork, but also from art of all kinds, both old and new. We love when we’re aesthetically inspired to create a new flower kimono robe design. Hopefully, this inspiration is passed on to you when our kimonos become part of your every day.
It can certainly take effort to maintain the drive that moves a community forward, but even if the effort feels difficult at times, it doesn’t mean you should quit. We hope that you’ve come away with steps you can take to grow the community that you always wished you were part of!