A lot has changed since the force behind “Irene Is Good” first burst onto the international fashion radar in 2014 — including her signature rainbow hair.

In our long-running series “How I’m Making It,” we talk to people making a living in the trending on fashion and beauty industries about how they broke in and found success.

irene kim

In 2013, Irene Kim was working as a model in Seoul when she got bored and, well, decided to dye her hair. First, the ends went blonde. Then blue. Then pink, then yellow, then every other color under the rainbow. Before she knew it, Kim had unknowingly coined the term “unicorn hair” to describe the kaleidoscope that could always be seen atop her head (and that she dyed every other week to keep fresh).

A year later, Kim (and her signature hair de la unicorn) was a bona fide global rock star, a model-turned-“It” girl who inked a blue-chip Estée Lauder contract and hobnobbed with Kendall Jenner and Justin Bieber. Today, she’s gotten even bigger, having launched fashion label Irene Is Good, named after her social media moniker, last summer.

irene kim

Kim’s path to influencer stardom began in earnest in college, when she moved from Seoul to New York City to study textile design at FIT. (She was born in Seattle, where she lived until middle school when her family relocated to South Korea.) After years of obsessively reading the internet’s original fashion blogger class (she name-drops the likes of Susie Bubble, Bryanboy, and Chiara Ferragni), it wasn’t until she arrived in New York that she felt prepared to strike out on her own.

So that she did. In 2012, Kim moved back to Seoul and began a career as a model, then as a television presenter. She started working with brands all over the world, like Ferragamo, Calvin Klein, and Chanel, all while putting more time and energy into her personal brand, also called Irene Is Good. Then Spring 2014 shows hit, and that’s the turning point she says that her career went global.

irene kim

It’s been almost six years since then, and Kim has since adapted her business to grow and evolve with her. Right now, that means growing her clothing line, the Spring 2020 collection for which debuts at Paris Fashion Week in a new, inventive presentation format. As for what’s next, she’s taking it one project, one launch, one partnership at a time — all the better to stay true to that young girl once refreshing the feeds of Susie Bubble, Bryanboy and Chiara Ferragni.

“I don’t have an end goal where I want to, say, build this empire and make lots of money and be known,” she says. “It’s more that I want to keep doing what I’m doing, and hopefully that inspires another young girl to do what they love.”

On an around-the-world-call across 12 time zones, I spoke to Kim from her home base of Seoul about all of the above. Read on for the highlights.

What’s your ultimate goal for yourself?

irene kim

My career so far has been very influenced by staying true to who I am. I’ll always be creative, and I’ll always be creating things for my fans who are essentially very young girls who love fashion. I just hope to continue to inspire them in a positive and lighthearted way. When people see me, they may think that I don’t take things too seriously — which I like, because I like it to be fun and playful. But behind the scenes, I take my business very seriously. I want to continue to grow my business, and as we grow, I want to inspire other girls to follow their dreams.

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