Leanne Wei

An Interview with Fashion Designer Catherine Kim | Founder of Forsythia Studio

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Last month, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit my very talented friend and designer Catherine Kim at her showroom space at Flying Solo in Soho. After spending the past few years working as an evening wear designer at Christian Siriano, Catherine launched Forsythia Studio - a New York City based, environmentally and socially conscious luxury womenswear brand in Spring earlier this year. 

As a brand, Forsythia aims to shift the way we think, consume and contribute to fashion, making use of a "made to order" production model aimed to reduce waste and reject mass production. I got to try on some of the gorgeous pieces from this year's collection and chatted to Catherine about what inspired her to create Forsythia Studio. 

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H&V: What is the significance behind the name behind Forsythia?
Forsythia represents a sense of belonging. I grew up in a house on top of a hill in Seoul, South Korea. Bushes of bright, yellow forsythia flowers lined the sides of the road up that hill. My brother and I spent our carefree days, running up and down that path. It’s where my childhood imagination ran wild. When I was ten years old, my family immigrated to the US and lived in Virginia. The culture shock was difficult and I never quite felt that I belonged. After my second year of university, I decided to transfer schools and move up to New York City in order to pursue fashion design. I remember walking along the streets of Central Park for the first time and seeing the streets lined with Forsythia bushes. I felt home for the first time in so long. It brought back my child-like sense of freedom. It was in that moment that I realized my I had all that I needed to become who I wanted to be. Forsythia is a sense of home and freedom.

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H&V: Describe your brand in three words.
CK: Feminine, playful, non-conforming

H&V: Where do you find your inspiration?
CK: I find inspiration mostly in the varied expressions of humanity and our society - “what does it mean to be human?” The first collection, called “Cusp of Change”, was inspired by the time and space between an end and a new beginning. It is the bittersweet, melancholy moment before the sun rises to reveal a new beginning. I find that I am mostly inspired by intangible ideas - rather than literal, physical things. The current collection is inspired by non-conformity. I am inspired by all those who do not conform to the rigidity of society, and are not afraid to show the world who they really are - that is the only way to show others how we can co-exist.

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H&V: What does “slow fashion” mean and why is sustainable fashion important to you?
CK: Slow fashion means understanding where the clothes come from. It means that when you see a garment you love, you are reminded of the love that was put into creating this garment. Maybe it’s like a gourmet meal, or even a home-cooked meal. You imagine the farmer, the grocer, the chef, and the waiter. Imagine the lives of the people who have touched your beautiful garment - are they happy? Are they safe? The importance of sustainable fashion stands in the similar sense of slow fashion. We have taken so much from nature and our planet, and it is crucial now to understand the effects we have had on our precious planet. In educating oneself and becoming more aware of our consumer habits, we can begin to heal - both the planet and the people. By the way, I highly recommend everyone to watch the documentary “True Cost” on Netflix.

H&V: How do you want women to feel when wearing your clothes?
CK: I want you to feel like a wildflower - beautiful, wild, and free.

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H&V: What was your biggest fear starting your own line?
CK: My biggest fear was having to learn to deal with the front end of things. As a designer, you are almost always in the back room - sketching, making, and creating behind the scenes. As an introvert and a creative, I am quite comfortable doing just that; however, I had to learn to be the face of the company and communicate to others what my vision is so that they can see it.

H&V: What has been the greatest joy?
CK: The greatest joy in starting this line has been setting my creative potential free.

H&V: What is your favorite part about being a designer?
CK: Weaving my dreams into the garments and seeing them come alive. It’s like an intricate puzzle coming together, and when it comes together it feels magical. I love seeing my garment move when a client puts it on. The absolute best feeling is seeing the client smile, seeing themselves in the mirror.

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H&V: If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?
CK: There are so many things that I had wanted to be. I had studied dietetics and psychology in the past before dropping everything and transferring to fashion school in NYC. I had a desire to become a veterinarian at some point. I imagined becoming a painter, a graphic designer, a photographer, and even a writer. I think my love for fashion and design overpowered the copious number of professions that I had wanted to go into.

H&V: What are your hopes and dreams for the future as you grow Forsythia as a brand?
I hope that the conscious fashion movement continues to grow and reach as many people as possible. In terms of Forsythia as a brand, I would like to bring a wider range of designs and clothing for all different types of women, and even men, in the future.


To learn more, visit Forsythia:


Be an Outsider With L.L.Bean

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Sponsored by L.L.Bean

It’s no secret that time spent outdoors in nature can bring out so much in us. But did you know that research shows that we spend 95% of our time indoors with nearly 50% of that time spent working? As someone who LOVES the outdoors in nature, parks, patios, gardens and green spaces, I was so excited to have the opportunity to join L.L.Bean for the media preview of their Be an Outsider at Work event in partnership with Industrious in New York City.

L.L.Bean and Industrious basically took over Madison Square Park and together, created the most epic and first-ever outdoor co-working space in NYC. With this initiative, the goal is to inspire more people to take their work outside. Why? Well, research shows that when we spend time outside, it actually helps us to increase our productivity, creativity and happiness levels. Being in nature also improves our moods, enhances relaxation, lowers our stress levels. And it makes sense, because I always find myself drawn to the desire of decompressing in green spaces after a long, hard day. 

If you follow me on Instagram, you would have probably seen some of the behind the scenes on my stories and got a good chuckle watching me working AND working out at the same time on the cycling desk. You seriously can't get more efficient than that! I really enjoyed the individual workspaces, collaborative conference areas and the outdoor office spaces - all complete with wifi and outlets. I'm definitely so impressed with the way the entire outdoor co-working space was designed by Industrious as well as the stylish, durable products from L.L.Bean that always make it easy and enjoyable for us to fully experience the shared joy of being outside. 


For more information, visit: 

From iHerb | Buffbake Double Chocolate Protein Sandwich Cookies


New collaboration shot for iHERB
Featuring BuffBake Double Chocolate Protein Cookies

I have a serious weakness for chocolate, and thank goodness for these BuffBake double chocolate protein sandwich cookies handcrafted with delicious and clean ingredients: think creamy protein chocolate peanut spread sandwiched between two crispy chocolate protein cookies. I love that they contain no GMO, artificial sweeteners, flavors or preservatives. Want to try a cookie? My friends at iHerb are giving new customers a discount HERE.


Bliss Pore Patrol Mask

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bliss pore patrol beauty shelfie

Bliss Pore Patrol Mask

Not a week goes by in my life without at least one mask night. My latest love is the Bliss Pore Patrol Deep Detox Clay Soufflé Mask. This deliciously silky clay mask is aerated with a combination of four types of clays (French Green Montmorillonite, Bentonite, Kaolin and Sea Clay) to deeply cleanse and minimize the look of pores to leave your skin super soft and never dry or tight.

I also LOVEEEE that Bliss is 100% cruelty-free AND blissfully-free from parabens, phthalates, sulfates, SLS and SLES. Available at Blissworld.com and Target and Ulta Beauty.