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the legal clutch and tote, Kiu Designs

Kiu Designs is the brainchild of Ann Cun, attorney turned fashion designer.  Sewing since the age of 10, and after having practiced law in corporate America for a bit, I decided to finally pursue my most favorite passion of all, designing clothes.  My speciality is women’s evening dresses, bridal gowns and bridesmaid dresses.  By popular demand of friends, I eventually started to design handbags and purses as well.  I customize most of my designs to my client’s tastes.  I handcraft all my designs at my workshop in the Nob Hill neighborhood of San Francisco.  Some people have actually babies to call their baby. I have my startup business I call my baby.

What inspired you to go into the craft business, do you still have a day job? The dream of being my own boss really pushed me over the edge to make that great leap.  Also inspired by a death of a very close friend in 2008, I vowed to always live my life to the fullest and to avoid postponing the pursuit of my dreams.  It was all scary and wonderful at the same time.  While I don’t maintain a traditional “day job,” my bar license is still active and I maintain strong legal connections in the field of law.

Describe your creative process when designing/making your product line. I make regular trips to the fabric stores and to suppliers.  I am usually inspired by looking and touching various fabrics.  That’s what allows me to create images of dresses and bags.  It’s either a shape or color that comes to mind.  I then sketch out the design from my head, create a prototype out of muslin fabric and if I like what I see, make the final product.  I undergo a similar process for clothing as well but I have multiple dressforms in my workshop that help with the draping and dressmaking process.

What’s the best thing about what you do? And the worst? The best thing about my career as a designer is that I’m my own boss.  I decide what I work on, how time sensitive my projects are, and how detail oriented I need to be on any given project.  The freedom of choice fits my personality very well and I love it.  The most challenging part of my career is ensuring that I budget judiciously to plan for those lean economic times we all endure.

What’s the best advice you have been given about your business or craft practices? The advice came from a good client of mine.  One was about keeping my overhead costs low so I can be profitable.  The other advice was developing client relationships by treating my customers, big and small, all with respect and processing each project with equal vigor.


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