Making cashmere coats, and how it all began!
The story of Kokino began with a decision I faced in my teens. I always loved the idea of design. The satisfaction of seeing a finished drawing always felt gratifying and rewarding. Starting with a blank page and ending with a finished rendering of an image, sometimes after many tries, gave me a feeling of enjoyment I truly cherished.
In 1992 I decided to study fashion, because I wanted to share my love for design with as many people as possible. Three years of studies at Montreal’s College Lasalle’s fashion design program was the solid foundation that was required to build the dream. A further two years of local apprenticeship in the fashion industry, prepared me well to strike out on my own to accomplish my dream.
Kokino started with “manufacturing” and selling to wholesalers who in turn would sell to boutiques and department stores. The fact that Kokino was commercial and industrial made it feel like a separate entity, detached from me and my goal which was to design for people not for industry. Having to expose my designs in trade fairs, and dealing with buyers interested in making deals, and getting discounts made the whole experience unworthy and cold.
Selling our cashmere coats online!
The onset of the internet and E-commerce has provided a global market place unlike any ever seen. Local and global became one and the same.
In 2001, after few years of commercial success, I quickly made the decision to pull myself out of the industrial confines I was feeling, and branch out on my own with my own website. I wanted to bring the concept of “making” a coat to fruition. A unique and exclusive cashmere coat design, that can be bought only online, customized to every client’s size. I wanted a relationship with those who bought a cashmere coat from me. Sending out hundreds of coats at a time felt very impersonal and empty.
Owning and running my own business became my happy place. The immense reach of the internet and E-commerce opened new and far reaching possibilities entrepreneurs and artists alike can only dream of. New Zealand and New York became equally close. Interacting with customers, getting to know the many fascinating individuals who bought my designs was truly amazing.
Instead of delegating the production to a supervisor, I was in charge and hands on in making a coat. I no longer said “I design and manufacture coats”, instead I began to “make” my design into coats. The seamstresses who sew our coats are ones who care about what they do. When they say the coat is beautiful, and they have seen thousands of coats, I am humbled and feel blessed to have such wonderful professionals working with us.
Throughout the years, Kokino has become what I always wanted it to be, a company that caters to that special client, savvy and sophisticated. Someone who appreciates an exquisitely crafted and unique item coupled by an unrelenting pursuit of perfection I am notorious for. We use only Italian cashmere. A finished coat will only leave our premises after a careful inspection by me, the designer and owner.
Our success has been achieved through word of mouth. Our clients tell their friends and family about their amazing find and they become our clients as well. Many of our cashmere coats made people approach and ask the wearer about the “store” where the coat was bought.
My personal interaction with our clients has led to some very meaningful and poignant experiences. The lady who was enamored with a Michele Obama coat she had to have one made. The many clients who sent in their worn out and much loved coats to be replicated. A Grey’s anatomy actress who wore the coat in an episode. On the funny side, one of our coats as sported by one of our models, inspired a heroine's character in a book!
Kokino is now what I always envisioned it to be, a limited production company. I love to sell my coats to those who love to wear them. I prefer to sell fewer coats to fewer customers who love to wear them than to sell thousands of coats to customers who just wear them.
Oh yeah, Kokino? It means RED in Greek, the color of passion and love. A word I saw on a Greek island and became mine!
Designer, Rosette Lteif