k2o is created by one of New York’s newest designers, Karen Ko. Karen’s passion for jewelry began early in her childhood, growing up in her family’s fine jewelry business. After studying and working in finance, Karen decided to return to her true passion and earned a degree in jewelry design at the Fashion Institute of Technology and shortly after began creating k2o.
Each k2o piece is hand-made and designed for the modern and trendy woman with an independent edge.
ASIANCE: Tell us about your background. Where did you grow up?
Karen: I grew up in Hawaii, however I spent many years traveling to Asia to learn more about my chinese heritage. I moved to New York in 2000 to attend Columbia University and when I decided to become a jewelry designer, I earned my jewelry design degree at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
ASIANCE: Anything interesting to say about mom and dad? The customs you grew up with?
Karen: My parents were definitely the very typical chinese parents who believed in working hard, getting A’s in school, and pursuing a ‘practical’ career (read: non-creative/art career). However, I am very lucky that they are also supportive parents who at the end of the day, will let me pursue my own passions, even if it’s not something they would have chosen for me.
ASIANCE: Tell us about your line? How did you become involved with cuffs and other jewelry?
Karen: K2o by Karen Ko is a rock glam, edgy statement jewelry brand, designed for independent women who are not afraid to standout. Each design was inspired either by my lifestyle or the people I meet and I admire.
ASIANCE: What celebrities are wearing your line? I heard you sent a pair to Rihanna?
Karen: Yes! I just sent a pair to Rihanna yesterday. She LOVED my Avant Rock Spike Cuffs!
ASIANCE: Would you ever expand your business into Asia or have you already?
Karen: My brand is still in the early stages of growth however, I definitely intend to expand my business to Asia in the future.
ASIANCE: Which Asian American business woman do you admire?
Karen: Definitely Vera Wang! She was one of the first Asian designer to successfully build a global brand in the fashion world and she really opened the door for other Asian designers.
ASIANCE: What were you doing before you started your own business?
Karen: Before I launched my company, Intersect Designs and my brand k2o, I was working finance – first at KPMG as an economic & valuation consultant and then at PCG as a private placement investment analyst.
ASIANCE: Who are your favorite designers or artists in the fashion world?
Karen: In terms of my personal style and taste, I love:
ASIANCE: Do you have any advice for Asian American girls who want to follow in your footsteps or break into the business world? Is there a bamboo ceiling?
Karen: Ahh Never be afraid to fail!
ASIANCE: If you weren’t making jewelry, what would you be doing?
Karen: I would either be a food critic or a stylist.
ASIANCE: What hobbies are you interested in? What do you do on your time off?
Karen: I am a huge foodie! I love cooking, taking photos, traveling, learning new languages, and of course shopping.
ASIANCE: What events or social gatherings are you particularly fond of?
Karen: Definitely fashion week events, food tasting events, charity galas and art openings.