Eunice Kim - Here / Now Founder & Brand Marketing Director at Vogue
Eunice Kim has risen through the ranks at Condé Nast and is currently the Brand Marketing Director at Vogue Magazine. On a trip to Korea, she created the first pair of Here / Now shoes. She has also launched RTW with Here / Now and there is a lot more in store! Read about her career below:
Walk me through your career path. I started out in LA, where I knew I was destined for a faster-paced and better-dressed life. I went to USC Annenberg School for Journalism and graduated in 2008. My internship at the local magazine Los Angeles Confidential grew into a job out of college. My former director who had started working at Conde Nast scouted me for a job at W. At W Magazine, I worked on creative projects with Art Basel & Frieze Art Fair. I moved over to Vogue four years ago.
How did you come up with the idea for the shoes? I am a huge sneakers girl. It happened while I was visiting Korea. I wanted to blend fashion, comfort and price into a sneaker I could wear everyday. I love designer fashion, but I can't shop it head-to-toe and feel comfortable wearing it all day. Especially designer sneakers - they're expensive so I can't really run around the city in them. We created a pair of sneakers that was as wearable as it was fun. At the same time, fur accents were being used in interesting new ways. We had only two colors in the beginning, the pink/gold Coco and the blue/grey Arian.
I wore them around the office and my co-workers started asking for pairs. I sold sneakers to a couple of girls just for fun and I started thinking that if people who work at Vogue like them, it probably means girls in New York will as well and there could be opportunity here. I decided to make 200 pairs of shoes, build a site on Squarespace, start an Instagram account and try to push it out. Going into Barneys was a turning point for us in early 2016. We are are sold at Nordstrom and Bergdorf Goodman. As for newness, we've introduced embroidery sneakers and a feather platform.
Did you always know you wanted to work at a magazine? Yes. I grew up with magazines - from my mom's Korean magazines to Vogue to National Geographic.
What are your thoughts on where the print industry is headed? Print will never go away.
Pros & cons of digital vs. print. Digital is immediate; print is timeless.
Explain your title: Brand Marketing Director, Vogue. I work with our top retail and fashion partners and advertisers on promotional marketing and digital branded content campaigns.
What is it like working for Vogue? A dream. I feel blessed to be working among the smartest, savviest and chicest women & men in media publishing in the fashion capital of the world, NYC.
What does a work week look like for you? During the day, it's working at Vogue - client calls, internal brainstorms, idea pitches. In the evening, I work with my Here / Now team in Korea (because they are 13 hours ahead of us in NY) to get production and operations work done.
What was the process when you changed roles/companies throughout your career? Did someone reach out to you? Did you apply online? How did you know you were ready for the next step and that the company would be right for you? It all happened organically and at a time when it was meant to happen. The relationships I made definitely helped.
How did you decide to create Here / Now? Because I wanted to create something that I loved to share with others.
What does it take to start a company, and how did you figure this out? It just takes less thinking and more doing! I learned the most by just doing it myself.
What is the design process like? How did you find factories, supplies, etc.? I go to Korea once every three months. The design process is tedious, but very helpful if you have the right support and connections. I am by no means an expert in this category, but my design and production teams sort out all of the logistics with our factory to turn it into what you wear on your feet today.
How do you find the fabrication you use? I find this from the markets in Korea. There is a wholesale market with all sorts of fabrics and embellishments. I can spend the entire day there.
Once the shoe was created, how did you go about selling it to stores? Instagram was integral to retailers discovering my sneakers. Stores like Barneys reached out, set up a meeting and that was it!
How did you feel when companies started knocking off the shoe? It's a sign of flattery, but it's not the same shoe they are creating. They have their audience, and I have mine. It felt bizarre, but as the saying goes, "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery."
Congratulations on launching RTW! How did you decide to add another category to the line? What were the similarities and differences in producing/designing RTW vs. shoes? What is the inspiration behind the shoes and now RTW. Introducing RTW to the brand is meant to mimic how a girl shops. We don't only buy shoes, we like to be able to buy shoes that match our clothes! So having great pieces for every part of the wardrobe on one platform is what I aim to deliver to our girls.
How are you balancing working at Vogue and managing Here / Now? I work really hard to ensure my work at Vogue isn't compromised. I work at Vogue during the day, and when I finish my work day, I start working with Korea. Both don't feel so much like work because I enjoy doing both so much. The time difference in Korea, where Here / Now shoes and operations are based, is also a huge help. A little less sleep, and it's all manageable!
How did you choose the name? I loved the fact that something I wanted was available right then and that it touched on the instant gratification that we need these days. So much content, products and options are being thrown at you everyday. What I want right now is what I'm going to buy and love.
What advice would you give to someone who is interested in starting their own company? I fully support you! It has been my most rewarding experience to date. It isn't always easy, and there are many times when I'm feeling my worst, but I just remind myself that I will come out of it a stronger and wiser leader.