We had the good fortune of connecting with Jennifer Kofler and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jennifer, what’s the most important thing you’ve done for your children?
Yes, I am a parent. I absolutely love being a Mom. I also love having a dream I can share with my family. We tell stories at the dinner table about what is happening and what the next steps will be for Vivian Blooms.. Everyone has a say, usually just funny comments, but it is nice that we all have a backstage pass to the process and planning. The kids had gone with me from the beginning on adventures from Guangzhou, China to Hong Kong. We spend some weekends in the beginning traveling on the train back and forth from the mainland to Hong Kong for handmade sales. We faced multiple typhoons and other obstacles on the path to product viability. It has been a family experience everyone having stories to tell about our adventures and experiences.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
BACK STORY VIVIAN BLOOMS As I watch my kids park their bikes behind their school in Guangzhou, China I wondered to myself again about what I was going to do today? Yes, the kid’s television show “Phineas and Ferb’s” existential question of existence, meaning of life, and purpose. “Go and learn something today” I said to them, and as they passed by me I kissed their foreheads in turn. I then returned back to a messy but completely quiet apartment and let out a long sigh. Is this really a “gilded cage” as my mother had described it to me? Well, metaphorical or not, my cage was again in a state of mess and disarray that only parents of young children can truly understand. In what universe do bubblegum toothpaste and a mini version of a monster truck really go together? Well, I can answer that: mine. Maybe my old friend Anderson Cooper has something interesting to tell me today on CNN, my portal to the west. At this time I was trying to sell handmade beaded earrings, crystal tea lights, lounge pants, feather bookmarks, and sock animals. I had socks transformed into elephants, hippos, zebras, dragons and much more. This was just another attempt at self fulfillment in the long hours that stretched out before me. I had in previous attempts considered a reusable shopping bag concept, each one made out of up-cycled material sewn by a disenfranchised part of the population then sold at eco friendly, and environmentally responsible local market back home in Colorado. Before that it was a website for custom made jewelry, where you could design your own metaphysical beaded jewelry, where each design element would be specific for the intended wearer. Pearls for purity, aquamarines for communication, talismans for protection, evil eyes, and hands of Fatima would dance through my head. But it all slowly fizzled and faded away. Put out by more pressing matters like soccer practice, what’s for dinner tonight, and figuring out a good method of cleaning bubblegum toothpaste out of sofa cushions. But I continued on in my fruitless pursuits of small business viability, this time with a sale in Hong Kong. Yes, I was taking my show on the road. If nobody wanted my products in Guangzhou, I was packing them up and pitching my tent somewhere else. I believe it was the great American writer Mark Twain who once said, “To succeed in life you need two things: ignorance and confidence.” And I was pretty sure I had plenty of both. With my daughter Vivian as my assistant, we had gone to Discovery Bay in Hong Kong for an outdoor sale in May of 2014. I had my usual array of hand made goods but I had also included a few last minute headbands that I had managed to glue together mere moments before leaving from Guangzhou. Unfortunately, as we were soon to find out, doing an outdoor sale in May in Hong Kong during the rainy season, is really not a good idea. After we arrived at the hotel, I turned on the television to get an update on the weekend’s weather. And it where as gale force winds smashed against our windows and the sky grew ever darker, we went down to the in-house dining room for afternoon tea. And what to my amazement did we see? A Parade of cute hats and truly fascinating fascinators. There was a wedding taking place in the hotel and I was overwhelmed by the lovely array of beautiful ladies with feathers, crystals, bows, and flowers being worn on their heads. I was hooked. This was my destiny. Making pretty things for ladies to put on their heads. I am home. As for the typhoon soaked sale I’m afraid, I didn’t have a record breaking day. In fact, the only sale I did make was the flower-covered headbands. The train back to Guangzhou was cancelled due to flooding. We had to cross the border by foot at Shenzhen instead, then wait under an over pass for two and a half hours for our alternative transportation: a bus back to Guangzhou. We arrived home at 3:30am, exhausted but with a new spark and direction I wanted to go with my business. Vivian Blooms, a line of handmade millinery and accessories had begun.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would always say that one of the most inspiring places to go is a Denver Art Museum. I would suggest going to a show and the walking down the 16th street mall and go for a meal out. There is a wonderful sushi restaurant called Sushi Sasa over the South Platte River in LODO. Then a little walk around the block to Habit Doughnut Dispensary at 1553 Platte St. #130.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My Mom and Dad, Roxana and David Bartlett have been instrumental in the help, love and support of my business endeavor. I would also like to shoutout the wonderful Sophia Davis, editor and chief of Fashion Avenue News. And I really appreciate the kind help and mentorship from Victoria Regina- CO Milliner and owner of Miss Victoria Regina and co-organizer of The Mavens of Millinery Pop Up Hat Shop at Shop Mona Lucero last August in Denver, Colorado.
model/makeup artist: Vivian Kofler photographer: Richard Cummings