Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?
My name is Kimberly Smallwood, Owner of Kimono.Fleur.
What does your creative career involve? Give us the typical outline of a day?
I create unique headpieces for other creatives and also collect vintage/new hats and fascinators. I create new content either by doing photoshoots or videos which include these items so that the general public can have ideas on how to style them in everyday wear. On a typical day, I would wake up and start creating a headpiece with no reference, as I try to create unique pieces. I trust my creative process so I never know what I will end up with until it's made. I then go to my vintage hat/fascinator collection which I have collected over time and plan photoshoots for each individual one followed by then posting it on my social media and then websites such as Etsy and eBay to sell.
What does being a designer mean to you? / What does being a creative mean to you?
Being a designer gives me the freedom to express my creativity and be myself. I spent many years suppressing my ideas and overtime realised if I don’t present it, someone else in the world will come up with that idea.
Being a creative means that I can express myself in more aspects than one and therefore allows me to be my true self. I have found that I am constantly improving my work, as improvement is only made by repeatedly doing it over time.
What’s great about your job?
I feel that in this line of work especially I can’t go wrong. Every item I either buy or create is something I personally like or would be happy to keep, therefore if I ever have a product that isn’t selling, I then use that item for my own shoots or for everyday wear and in time, will pass on as a gift to other creatives.
As I stated, I get a huge amount of freedom by doing this, and not having someone tell me what to do or how something should look allows me to create unique items/ideas that I wouldn’t be able to feel content with if I had someone restricting me.
What are the bits you don’t like or find challenging?
The parts I find challenging are understanding what things I can include to make my items more appealing to other groups of people. To have more understanding of this means research, connecting with people and receiving both positive and negative feedback in order to progress.
Do you think there’s any misconceptions with your job?
Yes. I feel that this line of work is presumed to be easy. Although it can be, many items I have created have been very time consuming and without showing people all of the processes, this wouldn't be understood.
What are the highlights of your career to date?
I would say my highlights so far have been posting self-shot images with my items and receiving a lot of love and appreciation for my work. Or people asking me ‘where did you get your headpiece from’ and being able to say ‘I made it myself’ is very rewarding.
I was also overwhelmed by the positive feedback and appreciation I got from my first sale. Leading up to my first sale, I was increasingly anxious to know what people would think of my work and I was worried that if my first set of feedback was bad, I might not have the strength to create more. Thankfully this was not the case.
What was your career path into this job? Have you also worked outside the arts?
I have always been a creative but have had other lines of work. I have always painted, drawn, sculpted and modelled. I always assumed I could only focus on one of these things, but later in life I realised by involving all of my talents it can push me to something greater.
Can you describe your biggest challenge so far in your career? How did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge so far has been my confidence. It has taken some time, but I had to realise that not everyone is going to love your work. It’s not going to be everyone's cup of tea, and not everything will sell. This can prevent a lot of people from progressing or wanting to try.
I have also found it to be challenging seeing how much competition there is in the world. There have been many occasions where I have created something, waiting a little too long to share, and then someone else has come up with the same idea. This can make you feel like 'what is the point?’. But have confidence in yourself that everyone is different and unique and that you will always have something to bring to the table.
Have you noticed any changes in the industry? If so, what?
Yes. The same as the fashion industry, things become popular and then fall out of fashion. It can be hard sometimes to keep up with the industry but I have taught myself that not everything has an expiring date when it comes to these things. Have faith in yourself that if you feel you have created something beautiful, someone out there will feel the same.
You’ve been granted the ability to send a message to 16-year-old you. What do you say?
I would say ‘just do it’ and to stop worrying about what other people might think. It is the ‘not trying’ that gets you nowhere.
Do you have any advice for young people interested in doing your kind of job?
It's especially hard when you’re young and you’re trying to understand yourself and know what you’re good at. The only way to know is to give everything a try. Put yourself forward for as many things as you can, find your calling and trust yourself and the process.
Not everybody in a similar position always knew this is what they would be doing at this age, it has taken a lot of work and a lot of failure to get to this point. Believe in yourself.