Kara Thoms Makes Beautiful Ethically Produced Clothes and Fosters Stability for Future Generations
Kara Johnson, Founder
Santa Barbara, CA
I was born in Fiji. I’m very much inspired by my early childhood there, spending time on my grandparents remote plantation was like stepping back into time. I grew up in New Zealand with a love for vintage clothes, old movies, surfing, sailing and traveling, which gave me a deep love and connection to nature. There’s a diverse mix of culture and historical influences in NZ that have definitely shaped who I am today. I will always call it home.
I spent 20 years traveling the world as a fashion model, gathering inspiration from all the places I lived in Europe, Asia, Australia, New York and now California (currently living in Santa Barbara with my husband and our daughter.)
Seeking a shift from the jet-setting lifestyle of being a model, I created the Kara Thoms label out of the desire to not only make beautiful ethically produced clothes for like-minded women, but to foster stability, support, and grounding for my now three-year-old daughter. Being a mother is the most important job/gift I have ever had and being able to stay home and raise my girl is the most important thing to me.
Kara Thoms is the embodiment of simplicity, femininity, and ease, something old and something new.
I like to design clothes with an attention to old world charm and details something timeless of high quality that can be worn by woman of many ages, something you will like to keep and love forever. I design clothes that I want to wear, for that natural gal, she loves being outside, be it at the seaside, running through meadows, dancing at a wedding or strolling the city streets of New York. Personally I love wearing clothes that bare a hint of nostalgia.
I have used eco friendly linen and linen blends in my first collections which add a more clean and simple, understated aspect to my vintage inspired designs. I do small batch quantities and everything is hand sewn by small, family-run artisan businesses in Bali. I am always striving to make Kara Thoms a more ethical brand; we are moving towards more sustainable botanical dyes. I love the Balinese people, their so talented and I'm so happy to produce my line in Bali - my brother and his family live there so it works out great when we visit.
My designs I hope, will make every woman feel beautiful and unique when they wear a Kara Thoms piece, as though they could float away to another time and feel connected with a bygone era.
I started working on my brand about 5/6 years ago.I found the perfect dress from the 40’s, made some alterations, a pattern and voila the Poppy dress was born, from this design a lot of my pieces have evolved.
At the time I felt there was a need for more vintage inspired styles and I just wanted to create and design clothes. On a trip to Bali I discovered so many great linens and linen blends and decided to create a brand that combined simplicity and femininity in a monochromatic way. Since then my collections have evolved and we use many different fabrics but the ethos are the same.
It also took a lot of courage to actually make it all happen. I never finished high school or went to college so I lacked confidence as far as running a business. My advice through all of this would be small steps. Take your time and enjoy it. If you love what you do then it's easier to do your best and if your doing your best it's going to work out.