Kathy Ireland Cambria Magazine
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opens up about life after modeling and how she gracefully balances the demands of an active family with her vast business empire
opens up about life after opens up about life after
Emmy-award winningBREAKING BADstar builds one-of-a-kindgreen home withoutsacrifi cingdesign
PRESERVE & SAVORA gourmet spin on canning and pickling for your favorite summer flavors
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BYBYBY CAROL LINNCAROL LINNCAROL LINN PHOTOGRAPHY BY PHOTOGRAPHY BY PHOTOGRAPHY BY TRACEY MORRISTRACEY MORRISTRACEY MORRISTRACEY MORRISTRACEY MORRISTRACEY MORRISTRACEY MORRISTRACEY MORRISTRACEY MORRISTRACEY MORRISTRACEY MORRISTRACEY MORRISTRACEY MORRISTRACEY MORRISTRACEY MORRISTRACEY MORRISTRACEY MORRISTRACEY MORRISTRACEY MORRISTRACEY MORRISTRACEY MORRIS
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COVER GIRL KATHY IRELAND BUILDS AN ENTREPRENEURIAL EMPIRE BY GRACEFULLY BALANCING HER PASSIONS FOR FAMILY, FASHION, AND BUSINESS.
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IN 1989, MODEL KATHY IRELAND, BREATHTAKING IN A TINY YELLOW BIKINI, DAZZLED AMERICA FROM THE COVER OF SPORTS ILLUSTRATEDS SWIMSUIT EDITION. Over two decades later, she still glows. A long-limbed beauty, with tousled hair and deep blue eyes, at 50, shes the ultimate mature California Girl. But Kathy also has radiance of a different sort: the kind that comes when a highly focused, ambi-tious woman gets exactly what she always wants. The company she founded and still heads, Kathy Ireland Worldwide (kiWW) has grown from a fledgling enterprise to a multi-billion dollar international empire of style. Kathys managed the expansion without compromising the companys longstanding commitment to creating products that are lovely, a good value, and crafted to meet the needs of real people, especially mothers. Since the companys earliest days, finding solu-tions for busy moms has been both an ad slogan and mantra. Our kiWW designs, says Kathy, are beautifulbut never so precious that you cant put your feet on the furniture. That same principle guided Kathys choice of Cambria counters for an upcoming kitchen and master bath remodel in one of her companys oceanfront destination wedding properties in Honolulu, Hawaii. Looks and practi-cality, she says, are the ultimate winning combina-tion. Tommy Meharey, director of Kathy Ireland Weddings and Resorts, echoes this sentiment. When Kathy decided to remodel the master bathroom and kitchen, here at our Hawaii design studio, we looked at every possible product, he says. Kathy decided to select Cambria, because of its superior strength and amazing look. In person, Kathy exudes a gracious calm. She never seems rushed, on edge, or even mildly resentful of requests for her time and attention; her favorite phrase seems to be thank you. That cool elegance masks the fact she leads a life so full that just reading her schedule leaves an outsider exhausted. A self-described control freak, shes not only kiWWs chief designer, but hands-on when it comes to the companys retail strategy, shipping, distribution, and sales. Shes also written six books, and is active in numerous philanthropic efforts.
If that werent enough, shes in demand as a motivational speaker, and frequently addresses corporation and stockholder meetings. And because in her trio of prime values parenting comes after faith but before everything else, she does it all while carving out time to spend with her family: husband Gregory Olsen, an emergency room physician, and children Erik, 18, Lily, 14 and Chloe, 10.
My goal has been to drive them to school every day and spend every afternoon with them, she says. Im not perfectI strive for balance, but dont always achieve it. I was 40 before I learned that no could be a complete sentence. Setting priorities has meant I couldnt accept every business opportunity or go to every friends party. But time with children goes by very quickly, and I wasnt willing to miss out on it.
Perhaps Kathy has such prodigious energy because she flat-out loves what she does. When Forbes magazine put her on its cover last year, the accompanying article described her as a model who became a mogul. More accurately, shes a born mogul who happened to spend some time in front of a camera. A sixth-generation Californian, raised in the upscale beach town of Santa Barbara, she went into business practically as soon as she could walk. At four, she was painting rocks and selling them door-to-door; at 11, a newspaper route was bring-ing in money she hoped to use to remodel her bedroom. If she was a less than motivated studentshe admits to barely finishing high schoolshe never compromised when it came to work. When I got my newspaper route, my dad told me to give the job 110 percent, she recalls. He said If the customer expects the paper to land in the driveway, put it on the front
porch. Thats something I never forgot.Discovered at 17 by an agent for the presti-
gious Elite Model Management, Kathy quickly hit the industrys top tier, appearing on the covers of Cosmopolitan and Vogue, and in the pages of Sports Illustrated for 13 consecutive years. That 1989 yellow bikini cover remains the best-selling Swimsuit Edition ever. But in many ways, she didnt fit in. At 18, she became a devout Christian, who was outspoken that faith was a cornerstone of her life. Her fathers 110 percent command prompted her to show up for fashion shoots early, bewildering photographers used to flakiness and drama. I was a joke, she says. She didnt spend her earnings on clothes or fancy carsmy friends called me cheapor indulge in romantic intrigue. In fact, she was 25 when she married Olsen, who
shed met two years earlier through her mother. I was traveling a lot and she hoped Id marry a local boy. She was working as a nurse and one day when I was having lunch with her, I noticed this very cute guy walking by. She said Thats Dr. Olsen and said such nice things about him...Mom didnt usually speak so highly of doctors.
Most of all, Kathy had a remarkably clear-eyed view of the profession in which she found herself. I never believed Id have a long career, she says bluntly. I realized that success was having
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KATHY CHERISHES MANY MEMENTOS AND GIFTS FROM ELIZABETH
TAYLOR INCLUDING SEVERAL ORIGINAL
PORTRAITS, HER LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT
OSCAR, AND HER TWO BELOVED DOGS,
GRACIE & DELILAH.
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MY FATHER TOLD ME, IF THE CUSTOMER EXPECTS THE PAPER TO LAND IN THEDRIVEWAY, PUT IT ON THE FRONT PORCH. THATS SOMETHING I NEVER FORGOT.
FASHION STYLIST: TIFFANI CHYNEL; HAIR: DON MALOT; MAKE-UP: SELINA LOPEZ; NAILS: ATHENA GREER; PRODUCTION STYLIST: CARYL EAGLE. WARDROBE: PGS. 24-25: TOP:
DVF; PANTS: BANANA REPUBLIC; KATHY IRELAND JEWELRY, CURATED BY PETER SEDGHI, LUXURY JEWELS OF BEVERLY
HILLS. OPPOSITE: JUMPER & BELT: RALPH LAUREN.
KATHY IRELANDS $2 BILLION RETAIL EMPIRE
LANDED HER ON THE COVER OF FORBES IN FEBRUARY 2012. READ THE FULL STORY AT
the look of the moment, and that look constantly changes. I never felt secure earning a living based on how someone else perceived that I looked. In fact, the money she wasnt spending on glitz was funding a series of entrepreneurial start-up efforts. Every one of them failed, but the process of trying, Kathy says, taught her a lot. She assembled a business team of several dozen individuals, many of whom still work for her and with whom she shares a powerful family bond. My father was a union organizer, says Kathy, and I learned at a young age that people come before profits. In kiWWs Palm Springs destina-tion home, for instance, there are almost as many photographs of the company corporate team as there are of Kathys family, making it hard to tell which is which.
Kathy also learned that it wasnt enough to start just any business; the what mattered. At one point, a friend gave me a book on making beer, which I recognized could be very profitable, she remembers. Im not a good cook, but the first batch turned out really well and I got very excited. The second batch wasnt so great, and I knew I needed help. Two years later, after doing research, investing and learning, I realized that I didnt really care about beer at all. And a business has to be
about more than making moneyyou have to have a love for it, because when you face the inevitable tough times, you need something to carry you through.
She found her calling in an unexpected way. In 1993, Kathy was carrying her first child and approaching her 30th birthday, when she got a job offer to model socks. She chose not to be insulted. I was a pregnant, aging model with very few offers coming my way, she says with brutal honesty. But rather than merely wear those socks, she proposed a business partnership to make some that would bear her name. I believed that if my team could create something that women embraced, it would indicate we were on to something, she says. That we might have a brand that could endure. Indeed, the socks, carried by K-Mart, became a blow-out success, and led to a Kathy Ireland clothing line for the retailer.
In 1998, her company expanded into home furniture, despite a lot of industry skepticism. But the owner of the Nebraska Furniture Marta subsidiary of legendary businessman Warren Buffetts Berkshire Hathaway conglomerategave her a shot. It was another triumph, and since then, kiWW has moved into numerous other areas of the home, including its Acafe Chef Andr line of kitchen products. All are aimed at the same audi-ence: women who appreciate something of quality. Value was a good place to start, says Kathy. I knew my potential customer was too savvy to buy something just because it had my name o