I’m a longtime enthusiast of the brand Emm Kuo, you can actually see me wearing some of the stunning pieces from the line here, here, and here. (Okay I might actually be a little obsessed.) It wasn’t until this past year, however, that I had the privilege to meet the brains behind the brand Emmaline Kuo Ranzman. After years of being Instagram buddies and DM pals, Emmaline and I had finally set up a time to grab a coffee, but color us both surprised when we actually ended up meeting at an event for a mutual friend the week before our date (the fashion world is a little funny like that).
But what I wasn’t shocked to find out was that Emmaline is just as lovely as her brand. One part rocker cool, the other sophisticated and sassy, both woman and line meld these conflicting styles seamlessly into one gorgeous package. So I could think of no other woman better to start the relaunch of our Monthly Muse series than her. Below we chat about the challenges of starting up a business, the inspiration behind her collections, and how to get the perfect bag for your wardrobe. So read on and meet the total bad ass girl boss Emmaline Kuo Ranzman.
You started in the industry working as a consultant and for e-commerce companies when did you decide to shift into designing and the more creative side of the business?
I always knew I wanted to design, so after working in Shanghai and feeling I had gotten a good sense of the business side of fashion, I enrolled in Parsons School of Design Graduate Program for fashion.
When did you first decide to start your namesake label?
I always dreamt of having my own line, I just wasn’t completely sure in what capacity. After working for Catherine Malandrino and helping her launch accessories, I knew I wanted to create my own accessories brand. And from there I took the great leap into starting my own label.
What are some of the challenges you faced early on when starting your own company as opposed to working for another brand?
When you work for a brand as opposed to having your own, you often have a team and a boss that tells you what or what not to do. Working for yourself, if there is an issue you have to be the one that solves it and figure out a solution. So at the end of the day, all responsibility is on your shoulders.
Take us through your design process. Where do you find your inspiration, source materials, produce your products, etc…
My design process always starts with a mood or tone of a place I want to convey. Travel is a constant source of inspiration for me, whether it be in the architecture of a certain hotel, or the colors of a city, or the style of the people there, or just the mood of a place. Every style of bag is actually named after a favorite place I’ve traveled to. I then source for new materials or try to combine them and create interesting textural contrasts. Once I’ve figured out a color and material pallet I work with artisans at my factories to put my vision together and create the collection.
What tips would you share with someone wanting to break into the industry?
First, have a very clear point of view and voice in regards to what your aesthetic is and believe and commit 110% to your work and have persistence!
If you could describe the aesthetic of the brand in three words what would they be?
Modern, Playful, Luxurious
Now in the age of social media, how do you feel like it impacts a business and what ways do you feel your brand embraces it?
Social media is a key component in the building of a brand! Platforms such as IG and FB allow a brand to speak and reach the audience that they want to capture. It also allows a brand to create its own narrative and image.
We use SM whether it’s on IG or stories, to keep an open dialogue with our followers and potential buyers. It’s a great platform because I can introduce who we are as a brand, and create our own content that shows how our bags are luxurious but fun and the many ways they can be styled.
What do you think someone should look for when investing in a quality handbag?
Materials and craftsmanship are the key components of a quality bag that will age beautifully over time
What trends do you see coming up in handbags?
More structured shapes, a play on geometry and texture, and patent leather!
What are some of your favorite pieces from your current collection?
Our rodeo clutches, and for summer the marigot bucket bag. The Rodeo clutch is bright and colorful, but still chic and glamorous. And our Marigot bag is the perfect structured shape, yet it fits everything you need and instantly completes an outfit.
If you had one tip on how to live a more stylish life what would it be?
Be authentic and true to yourself