One of the things I wanted to do when I started this blog was to highlight independent designers and boutiques. I’ve said it before, I’m a huge proponent of personal style so anytime I learn about someone interesting, with creations that are inventive and inspiring, I will be sharing it with you guys.
Such is the case with Kimmi J. Cowan.
An artist, stylist, and designer in ATL (by way of Memphis.Woot! Woot!), Kimmi creates custom jewelry. With a background in design, (LaVie Couture, an upcoming clothing and accessories line by designer Vanessa Masters commissioned her sketches), and still riding high off of her internship at Betsy Johnson (she was even called back to assist during Fall Fashion Week!), Kimmi is currently working on her own accessories line, Sonnyboy Langston (SBL).
After seeing a picture of Kimmi’s custom detachable shoulder pads (Celebrity makeup artist Toni Acey wore a pair during a segment on BET’s My Black Is Beautiful), I reached out to a mutual friend, graphic designer Kaye McCoy, to see if she’d be interested in an interview. Lucky for us all, she wasn’t too busy and obliged!
When did you realize you wanted to design?
I started out as an artist/painter, but one day I was bored in my 7th grade math class, and a friend of mine said, “Let’s draw cute outfits”. As simple as that sounded, that’s how it all started! So every day after that, I would bring blank paper to school and on the days I was super bored I would draw girls and design clothing for them to wear. Then I would go home and watch black and white movies on TCM (Turner Classic Movies) and draw dresses, look in magazines and sketch almost every day when I got home from school.
Sketch of Jacket w/custom shoulder pads.
What was the first piece you ever created?
The first piece I ever created wasn’t clothing. It was actually throw pillows for my mom’s couch, lol! They were actually pretty good for my first time sewing. That was in the 10th grade, but I was ALWAYS sketching, painting, and drawing.
How does designing jewelry differ from designing clothes?
When I’m designing clothing, it takes a lot of planning and researching. I’m always sketching ideas, testing fabrics and colors, searching for trends. As far as with jewelry, I go into it with an open mind. I don’t sketch; I buy beads, stones and trinkets that catch my eye, find my theme or my inspiration and go from there. Eventually when I am more in depth with my company, I will sketch. When designing clothing, you have to consider body types and heights. Jewelry is for all body types and heights. That is what I love about accessories!
Kimmi & Betsey Johnson
What are some of your accomplishments as a designer?
I studied under Betsey Johnson for 4 months. She has always amazed me and when I finally got to work under her and her team in NY, it was the best experience ever! I have done so much and gained so much experience: styling celebs and models, working behind tons of fashion shows and shoots, etc. I cannot wait for what’s to come! I’m ready…
Who did you have in mind when you starting creating SBL?
I definitely had my family in mind. Growing up, I would hear stories about what my Dad and cousins (James and Chestine), experienced when living in the country. They were such fun and awesome stories, that every time I went over to visit, I would be anxious as to what they would say. So, I wanted to dedicate this line to them. I want my jewelry to tell a story, give that vintage yet modern feel to every look, and make them feel timeless.
What will the SBL line consist of?
The SBL line will consist of earrings, one of a kind wrist action including bangles/bracelets, brooches, necklaces, rings and hair accessory pieces.
What’s your favorite part about conceptualizing a custom piece?
The best part is not knowing what I’m going to make next. When it comes to making my pieces, it comes by chance. My mind goes a million miles an hour when I get tons of beads and little trinkets in front of me. I let my mind guide my hands.
What are some of your fashion goals?
I want to be successful. It’s simple: I want people around the WORLD to know me for my craft. All of my friends tell me how talented I am; now I’m ready for the world to find out. Fashion is a pretty big deal… I want to be one of those names/ brands that come out of your mouth when you think of Fashion. I want to be successful in ART because that pretty much explains all of me and who I am.
What are some of your favorite fashion websites, magazines, or books?
My favorite mags are Nylon, Elle, Vogue, W, old school Harper’s Bazaar, French Vogue. Websites: Style.com, Instyle.com, Polyvore.com, Mismatcherie.com, and thelifestyledblog.com
Where can readers find out more about you and SBL?
SBL is definitely a line to look out for. What attracted me to her work is while the pieces are trendy, they aren’t over the top or gaudy. For a woman that needs a statement piece to punch up an outfit, SBL will be a great choice!