What career advice would you give to someone in need?
Just take the first step. If I had known everything I knew today about being an entrepreneur, I would have been too afraid to venture out on my own. Often times, we analyze too much, think too much, and try to predict all the potential and possible outcomes as a way to control the situation, but it cripples you; you are already afraid of impending failure before you start. Business, life, and careers will change in unexpected ways, and you will need to pivot, adapt, and quickly learn what you have control over and what is only perceived control. Cross; you will learn so much by quickly leaning over and iterating quickly over mistakes.
What is your biggest challenge at work?
Be both micro and macro. I built this business from scratch and as a result I know how everything is built. This allows me to quickly understand which connective tissues need to be massaged between departments and how to quickly check for problems. However, staying so close to the details also limits your ability and bandwidth to think really big and creatively.
What’s your favorite treat after a productive day?
After a productive day, I like to relax with my children. It’s important that no matter how busy our schedules are, I take the time to catch up, play a game, or just watch a movie. The uninterrupted quality time together is the best treat I can ask for, and it is important that I can show them a healthy balance between my career and our family life.
What’s your favorite thank you gift?
I always try to give people gifts that they usually wouldn’t buy for themselves, like unique items, unique conversation starters in the serving utensils or barware category, or just plain an exquisite table setting or cutlery. For items that come in sets, I always offer 8 or 10 so they don’t have to put the set together themselves. Of course, I do my shopping on the KKH site! We have over 100,000 items, so no matter who I shop for, I know there is always an amazing option.
What’s your typical email signature?
It depends who I emailed to, but my team and friends call me KK, so that’s usually how I log out!
If you weren’t doing your current job right now, what do you think you would be doing?
Travel and cook. Is it even a job? [Laughs.] I would love to learn more about the food of every culture, be it Asian, Middle Eastern, Scandinavian – food culture says a lot about the rich history of the people. I would like to be an apprentice to a chef and learn, ingest, digest and consume wonderful culinary cultures.
How did you get started in interior design? And how did you get into the role of CEO?
As far as I can remember, I have been drawn to interiors. When I was a child, my family moved a lot; my father was a diplomat, so we traveled frequently between Asia and the Americas. I loved creating new homes wherever we went and incorporating meaningful new objects from my travels. This instilled both an appreciation for good design and a love for unique, high-quality products at a young age. This passion led me to Rhode Island School of Design, where I majored in industrial design, and later on television, with appearances on home improvement shows like Row house clash and Knock first. After that, I worked on the design and development of furniture and textiles for a luxury importer. I spent a few years in the interior space working for brands like Assouline Books and Bed, Bath & Beyond. The experiences, ideas and understanding of product design, manufacture and worldwide distribution then became the building blocks of Kathy Kuo Home. When the online store started to grow bigger than I could handle with one other job, I took the plunge and put it all in by launching Kathy Kuo Home in 2012.