Koni Kim is an entrepreneur and the founder, president and CEO of the Koni Corporation, which creates custom textiles and designs for the hospitality industry. She has 30 years of experience in hospitality soft goods and has supplied the industry with major product innovations over the years. Kim is also a keynote panelist at the upcoming National Association of Women Business Owners 2011 Women’s Business Conference. I spoke with her about her path to success and her advice to women entrepreneurs.
What is your leadership philosophy?
A satisfied customer may like your products, but a loyal customer will buy from you again and again. Loyal customers tell business associates about you, which can start a cascade of success for a company. Our success is a result of the success of our customers. Our entire company philosophy and corporate culture has been developed around the premise of exceeding customer expectations, creating raving loyal fans of Koni Corporation.
What inspired you to start Koni Corporation?
Shortly after graduating college with a degree in art, I became enthralled with the hospitality industry — the challenges, the uniqueness of each property and the ability to create beautiful pieces of art that millions of people from across the world could experience and enjoy. I recognized a way to serve the hospitality industry and started Koni Corporation in a guest house. One project led to another, and before I knew it many other hotel brands and management companies have taken advantage of the products from Koni Corporation.
Your business grew quickly, but you have always been known for high quality. How do you keep quality consistent, and why is this important?
Anybody can make a cheap product, but quality is a passion. There are small details that can make a big difference in a product. At Koni Corporation we have identified four pillars of product design that we adhere to in our product development process. Our products must be aesthetically pleasing, provide functional values, operational ease and include a level of sustainability for our Earth.
How have your products changed to adapt to an evolving hospitality industry?
For years we have set the trend that makes the industry better. In the business world, changes are inevitable, and we need to be prepared to lead with ongoing and continuous improvement. With a focus on improvement and innovation, we maintain our edge, which is especially important in the business of design.
What is your advice to women who would like to start their own business?
Being a woman is definitely an advantage and a privilege. There are those that use a minority status as an excuse to fail, when in reality it can be a road to success. Successfully serving humanity and overcoming prejudice will be more memorable because of the obstacles that were overcome. The only disadvantage in life is a lack of confidence and knowledge. Maintain a simple philosophy: Believe in your talent, follow your dream and never give up. We have freedom of choice, and the choices we make shape tomorrow. I am happy with the choices I have made and look to making choices that harmonize with God’s purpose for me in the future.