Hi, my name is Mimi Kim. I’m the designer behind the stationery brand Clap Clap. I live and work in the arts district neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. My line is named Clap Clap because clapping your hands makes you happy!
Before starting Clap Clap, I worked at an advertising company in Seoul, Korea. Back then, I often felt frustrated working for clients because I couldn’t design what I truly wanted. I started thinking about going to graduate school; for my portfolio, I made a calendar with 12 recipe cards. To my surprise, the people around me really loved it – I ended up making 200 additional calendars and they all sold out! The whole thing was unexpected but so exciting. I was able to hear directly from people who bought my work that they liked it, which I never had working at a large company. It was so great to control every part of the process, from design to production. The experience made me think about running my own business, and my husband Bert was completely supportive.
I usually decide what color scheme I’m going to use before I start drawing. This is the most important part of my process. I get inspiration from different mediums: fashion lookbooks, packaging design, and even nail art. Sometimes I even find a great color combination while eating at a Chinese restaurant!
I draw all of my designs using my iMac. I’ve been told that my work looks like it’s hand-drawn because it’s so detailed, but it’s actually all done on a computer. After I’m finished with a design, I have it printed at a local printer. Even though I had experience with the printing industry in Korea, it wasn’t easy to find a reliable printer here in Los Angeles – I had to learn a lot of technical terms and research the differences in paper types. Once everything is printed, Bert and I photograph each item in our loft, which I truly enjoy. I especially like the photos for my catalog because the colors and layouts go really well with my products.
I opened my Etsy shop before I even officially launched Clap Clap; my only item was the recipe card calendar. Since then, Etsy has helped me learn valuable lessons about running a business and sharing my work with people around the world that I wouldn’t have met otherwise. I’m thankful for that. My goal for next year is to participate in the National Stationery Show in New York. This will be Clap Clap’s first big step for the international wholesale market, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I’m also planning to add a line of fabrics with my prints. Printing on fabric has always fascinated me because of all the possibilities using texture. Thinking about the future of my business is always exciting, and I hope that Clap Clap will take even bigger steps one day.