How Kiyonna Plus Size Clothing Came to Be
Almost 20 years ago, a young lady named Kim Camarella-Khanbeigi was an aspiring entrepreneur with a major problem.
Kim just didnít have a business idea.
Back in 1996, revolutionizing how plus size womenís clothing was perceived and distributed was not something Kim could have even imagined.
Well, until she went on vacation that is.
In her last semester at USC (Where she was studying Entrepreneurship, if you can believe it.), Kim went on vacation with one of her girlfriends. As they were hanging up their clothes in their hotel room, Kim happened to notice that none of her friendís clothes had any labels in them. When she asked her friend why, her friend said it was because her mom had to make everything for her since there were no cute clothes available in anything past a size 16.
It was at this moment that the light bulb lit up brightly and Kim Camarella-Khanbeigi got the business idea which became Kiyonna.
With the flash of inspiration burned into her brain, and needing to create a business plan for one of her classes anyway, Kim headed for the local mall where she waited outside of one of the largest plus-size chain and conducted some random sampling.
Her survey just had two questions:
Time after time, the answers were the same...or, maybe not the same.
- Where do you shop?
- Where would you prefer to shop?
The women she talked to wanted to shop anywhere except the plus size chain stores they were stuck with.
Know what else? With the plus size market being monopolized by the chains and department stores, younger women were shopping at the same plus size clothing stores as their moms and...get this, now...their grandmas!
So, 5 months later, Kim's course, and business plan, is complete and time to graduate and get a "real" job.
Well, that wasn't for Kim. She decided to form a partnership and get a stylish line out there for small boutique owners to buy. Unfortunately, instead of the hugs and kisses she expected from the boutique owners who saw the line, more often than not, she heard the phraseÖ.
ĒThatís just not my customerĒ.
Kim knew that was the wrong answer.
Meanwhile, stylish fashion editors had to complete that token piece of plus size content for their newspaper or magazine. For a while there was a partnership with some of them, but it didn't pay the bills.
So, by herself, and, with a huge phone bill after Kiyonna's 800 number was mentioned in Seventeen magazine, Kim had another light bulb go off.
Okay, she had a little help. The help was her dad, and he said, "You should get one of those websites."
Kim said, "Dad, you donít know anything. No one is going to buy clothes from the computer."
Well, two out of three ain't bad, huh?
Even though Kim initially missed the "insight" award on the idea of selling plus size clothes online, she did listen to her dad, and created Kiyonna.com.
From the start, sales gained momentum, and, as sales grew, so did Kiyonnaís team and depth of offerings. Today, plus size clothing from Kiyonna, such as her Twirl and Swirl Cocktail Dress, can be found in over 100 stores in the U.S. and in other countries. Online business accounts for over 80% of Kiyonna's total sales, and, in 2007, the company opened itís first Flagship retail location called the Upstairs Boutique at 1315 N. Brasher Street Anaheim Hills, CA 92807.
What does Kim have to say about her company, and her customers?
ďWeíre in business still, after all these years, because weíve always sold a feeling,
not a product. Iíve always believed in the idea that curvy women deserved to look and
feel stylish and amazing. Why not?Ē
- Kim Camarella-Khanbeigi.