Street: Would you call Khiry a startup?
Jameel Mohammed: It depends on who I am talking to. When I am talking to the business community, I call it a startup, [but] when I am talking to the creative community, it makes more sense, for them, as a line or a collection.”
Street: How did you decide to start a fashion line?
JM: I have always wanted to do ready–wear and last spring I went to the keynote address for Penn Fashion Week with Daniella Vitale and Mark Lee who are the COO and CEO of Barneys New York. During the Q&A period, I basically asked, ‘What would it take for a designer to get into Barneys?’ I developed a relationship with Daniella and ended up bringing samples to New York to get them critiqued by the fashion director of Barneys, Tomoko Ogura.
Street: What happened with her?
JM: She said I had interesting ideas, but the level of construction necessary for clothes is very expensive. I had a necklace with me however, and she said maybe you should go in this direction because the margins of jewelry are higher and production cost is lower. So I could produce a Barney’s quality line without too much capital. (Ed. note: and he did!)
Street: Where are you selling? Just the web right now?
JM: Yeah, it is all there. Right now I am working on getting into retail. All winter break, I spent mining the internet for boutiques that would fit the profile with the line. After fashion month ends, I will be doing a huge retail push.
Street: What is your biggest jewelry “don’t”?
JM: The philosophy of my line is to do things which are unexpected—things that don’t make sense—but then making them luxurious. So I am all about don’ts. But don’t be tacky. You can’t really define tacky, but you know it when you see it. Don’t put it on your body.
Street: Do you have another line coming out or is the one staying around for a while?
JM: This summer I am going to build up a new collection. I got a scholarship so I might move into fine [jewelry] and handbags.