Meet Karen Klein, CEO of U By Karen Klein
Let’s start with a few personal questions …
Q: What’s your favorite movie?
KK: A lot of people think it’s “The Devil wears Prada”, but actually my favorite movie is “City of Angels”. It’s a movie about pure love and real life and it touched me on so many levels. I am a very romantic and sensitive person and this movie spoke to me. When you dress people up, you have to be sensitive to who they are, so you can make them feel complete and happy in their own skin. At the end of the day, we all have to feel good about our actions and the way we feel.
Q: If you weren’t doing your current job, what would you be doing?
KK: Probably politics. That was my dream as a kid, to make the world a better place through public service. But over time I understood that you can’t always do what you want as a representative and that you need to deal with a lot of dishonesty. The closest I got to this life was in Israel, when I got to dress up some of the most important political figures.
Q: Which celebrity do you most identify with?
KK: There are two: most recently it has been Michelle Obama, but 20 years ago it was Diana, princess of Wales before she passed away. Both represent feminine strength and have done so much for women in society. They each empower women in their own special way. Each in her period had major influence and the ability to make a change. The main difference was the man beside them. Michelle got full support, while Diana needed to fight an entire kingdom. Nothing stopped them from doing what they believed in the most.
Q: If you had an extra million dollars what would you do with it?
KK: I would donate it to animal shelters that need our help.
Q: What’s your favorite restaurant?
KK: I have been to many places around the word and have tried many kinds of foods but there is only one restaurant that I keep going back to and never get disappointed. It is called Mashya in Tel Aviv, Israel. The chef, Yossi Shitrit, is a genius! The food is incredibly tasty, and the design is marvelous! The combination between flavor and design in the restaurant can be describe by only one word: “perfection”.
Q: If they made a movie of your life, who’d play you?
KK: Probably Claire Danes. Many people told me that we look alike.
Q: What’s the toughest part of your job?
KK: Every part is tough, but loving what you do and doing what you love makes it feel easy.
Q: What do you do in your spare time?
KK: Exercise and listen to music. I found that tennis, dancing and swimming make me calmer and improve my concentration. It is the same with music. I can draw and style better with music around me.
Q: Who’s been your biggest influence in your life?
KK: There are a few people that influenced my life. One are my parents, which taught me about dignity, honesty, and kindness. To roll up your sleeves, work hard, and not be afraid to get your hands dirty. Another person was my teacher, Gerry Cooklin at Shenkar College in Israel which is a top 10 school for fashion worldwide. During my first year there I just couldn’t get the patterns right. I could easily design with fabrics but not with a paper. One day, in the middle of class, I just gave up. I put my pencil down left the class. Apparently, he saw what happened and followed me. He found me outside, sat next to me and told me something that I will never forget.
Q: What was it?
KK: “Some people have the talent, some don’t. If you don’t, even the best fashion school in the all world can’t help”. I looked at him and before I said anything he told me “but you, my dear, you have it! You’re so talented! No one can take it from you and as for the patterns… just hire someone good!”
Q: What’s your most embarrassing moment as an adult?
KK: I was at a trunk show and a celebrity arrived and asked for my help in person. I didn’t recognize her and at one point (after about an hour…) she told me who she was. I didn’t believe her, and I said “of course, and I am the president”, to which she opened her wallet and pulled out her ID. I was so embarrassed… and we were both laughing about it.
Q: What inspires you?
KK: Meeting new people and hearing their stories.
Q: What’s the best advice anyone’s ever given you?
KK: Always be yourself, love yourself, do whatever you want, live the day but don’t forget to respect other people’s feelings.
Q: When you fly do you prefer a window, Aisle or middle seat?
KK: Window, since it’s easier for me to fall asleep. I work and travel a lot so making good use of every second is important.
Q: What simple pleasure makes you happy?
KK: To get a good hug from my family and friends.
Q: What is your favorite TV show?
KK: I love “Curb Your Enthusiasm”. It’s a TV show about Larry David’s life and he has an excellent sense of humor. Sometimes I find myself in similar situations to the ones on the show.
Q: What do you like the most about living in the Bay Area?
KK: The people and diversity. It’s amazing how people of many cultures can live in such a tiny place and collaborate in beautiful ways that makes me feel that peace in this world is possible.
Q: Do you have a hidden talent?
KK: Yes! It’s cooking… I think there are many similarities between cooking and fashion. I don’t like to follow recipes, and prefer to choose my own ingredients and quantities. I love to play with different materials and colors. It feels like another way to express my designs.
Q: What’s your favorite Music/Artist/Song?
KK: I am a big fan of U2. I love their music but most of all their contribution to the society. I am also a big fan of classical music. When I work I like to listen to Capella Istropolitana.
Q: What’s your favorite holiday? Why?
KK: Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Beside my husband and our kids my entire family is in Israel. My friends in the US are my family. I like to celebrate the holiday at my house and invite all my friends to celebrate with us. It’s a holiday that I am thankful for all I have in my life, especially my family, friends and what I have achieved so far.
Q: What is your favorite quotation?
KK: “I don’t want to go to heaven none of my friends are there.” –Oscar Wilde
Q: Have you ever met anyone famous? Who?
KK: I’ve met many famous people in my life, but the one that impressed me the most was Shimon Peres. It was maybe 35 years ago, when I was a kid and he visited my old town. He was walking down the main street, and everybody was around him and wanted to speak with him when he just stopped, looked at me and started to chat with me. It was a fabulous moment. This person did so much for the Middle East, and never gave up. The dedication to make a difference was endless. It was a very sad day for Israel when he passed away.
Q: When did you start to work in the fashion industry?
KK: I started 23 years ago during my 1st year of college. I decided that I need to get practical experience while I am a student. It was one of the best moves I ever made. I got so much experience that it was easier in school.
Q: When was your company founded?
KK: I founded my first company in 2008. It was bad timing to start a new company for many reasons: the economy, a major car accident I was involved in, and I had a newborn at home. I found that there are many women in America that want to dress up and can’t always find good quality clothing. I decided not to wait for better days and just made it happen.
Q: Why one size?
KK: How many times do you walk down the street and notice women wearing clothes that don’t compliment their figure? The size is right, but the styling, combination, matching or fit were not the best. One size is easier to wear and style. Women’s bodies change a lot through pregnancy and age, and there is no reason to keep buying clothes just because we gain or lose a few pounds. I believe that one size is just another tool. It’s not important what size you are but rather how you style the clothes on your own unique body.
Q: What do you think women need and how can you help?
KK: All women needs an objective eye to tell them if they are wearing the correct clothes and jewelry for their own body shape. They need someone that understands them and their everyday schedule as a woman. We have careers, we travel, we are moms, someone’s friend or sister. We need to feel good in our own skin! I want to teach women how they can feel good!
Q: How men and women responded to the new concept?
KK: I was extremely surprised to hear the excitement from men at first. Their two main comments were either “it will be easier now to buy something for my wife” or “can you make one size clothing for men? That’s a genius idea! Wish we had that too…”
As for the women, most of them get it right away. The concept is easy for them. For those that are afraid that it will be to big/small on them, I recommend to just try it! You have nothing to lose. At worst, you can return it for free and at best you will find the best item ever!!!
Q: Why did you choose the name U By Karen Klein?
KK: I chose that name since now it’s about you and not about us.
Every woman is special in her own way and has a place in the world; U by Karen Klein designs are made to fit every woman.
Now, I educate and style these women by selecting for them the most unique, affordable and fashionable items all in one size.
Q: What is unique about your website?
KK: Everything is about U with Karen Klein’s newest FashionTech approach to modern womenswear. The company is launching a refreshing new website where every item is size-less, meaning it fits equally well on women sizes 0-14. Releasing new products every few weeks, the site provides an array of items, style videos, and the newest trends for customers to choose from to complete their outfit. This creates a more inclusive & effortless shopping experience for all women. There shouldn’t be any thought put into whether you are one size or another, “will it fit me, and will I need to return it”? Everything works if you love the product and it is sure to be a good fit with U by Karen Klein.
Q: Tell us about the designers you picked.
KK: Most of the designers are local, and offer fabulous quality and uniquely different designs. Right now, we have genuine holiday items by Linda Richards, smart-casual clothes by Matthildur, comfort lifestyle sleepwear by Love + Grace, unique effortless outfits by Sympathy, fabulous winter scarves Ozka Cashmere House, and elegant Couture Jems jewelry, plus many more. The idea is to introduce new, beautiful & local designers to women who seek to modernize their wardrobes, every few weeks. We are saving women the time by offering these designs under one roof instead of shopping at boutiques.
Q: What do people what to know, but don’t dare to ask?
KK: Can you teach me how to dress up? I love that question, since most people don’t ask it. They are too embarrassed to ask for help or they just give up (some of course know how to do it by themselves and some don’t even know that they need help). Either way, I love to help people find their style by their body shape.