From Finance To Fashion Meet Jessica Kim Of art dept.

PHOTOS BY KAREN HERNANDEZ FOR THE ASSEMBLIST

PHOTOS BY KAREN HERNANDEZ FOR THE ASSEMBLIST

When we asked Los Angeles-based designer Jessica Kim what she's assembling daily her response was simple: "We’re always striving to find the perfect balance of fashion, function and casual meets luxe."

From what we've seen from her premiere brand art dept. she's already done that and more. The finance professional turned contemporary fashion designer contends that the line is very much inspired by her own west coast lifestyle (read: the perfect wardrobe to transition from life's daily chaos to casual comfort in the much needed quiet moments). With the brand's staple neutral palette and easy silhouettes, Jessica is on a mission to cater to women in need of wearable pieces that they can make all their own.

To learn more we caught up with the newly minted designer at her private studio in our new LA Square. During our visit we perused some of Jessica's latest pieces and chatted more about her experiences and her advice for fellow designers. Read on for our interview and also visit The Style Line for an exclusive follow-up portion of the story.

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Please introduce yourself! 

My name is Jessica and I live in Los Angeles, am married to my best friend Phil, mom to two little rascals and founder of art dept. I value sincerity, humor, hard work and quality time with family, close friends and my two dogs. My life is a juggling act between being a full time mom, wife and business woman and I love it! 

Talk to us more about the ethos of art dept. and how the brand reflects your life and design preferences.

The art dept. ethos is all about easy, effortless pieces that take you from day to night. It’s for the woman who wants to be able to throw on an outfit and forget about what she’s wearing for the rest of the day. She knows that she looks polished and put together yet still relaxed and functional. 

It actually reflects my lifestyle very much - from my mornings of packing my kids’ lunch and dropping them off at school, getting five minutes in of playground time with my three year old son at daycare before going into business meetings and the day to day efforts of running and growing a business and if there’s dinner and cocktails after with my husband, friends or business associates. I’m wearing the same outfit and I haven’t thought about it.  

How does being based in LA inform the art dept. woman and her lifestyle and how do you see the brand existing in other major markets?

art dept. is intentionally made to be ‘west coast meets east coast.’ With a neutral color palette, textural fabrics in simple shapes, it can easily be worn in many environments. The style is elevated comfortability, which we believe can be globally translated to women in every market.

With a nod to your background in business when did you first realize your true passions were aligned with fashion design and what excites you the most about the contemporary market? 

Coming from a finance background of 10 plus years, I’ve come to realize that I love and find joy in creating things. My friends all thought I was nuts for making the shift but sometimes you just have to do what you love. Really! 

The advice I’d give to other new designers is to stay true to your DNA and stay authentic, you can’t make everyone happy. Trust your instincts and it’s okay to make mistakes along the way- just make sure learn from it! 

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How has being part of the Brand Assembly community furthered art dept. and how do you plan to leverage your involvement on a local level?

Brand Assembly creates a great community of likeminded people who are yet still unique in what they bring to the table. You can feel the support and how they promote success amongst their brands. It’s an invaluable resource and space to be a part of for any emerging brand. We’re excited to be in our space at their LA Square for market and are considering participating in the trade show in the future.

What do you assemble daily? 

We’re always striving to find the perfect balance of fashion, function and casual meets luxe.