Styling Sustainably with Kaemi | Jami Ordiz and Kaile Teramoto
Jami Ordiz and Kaile Teramoto are the best friend duo behind styling brand, Kaemi. From styling for Wiz Khalifa, one of Kehlani's music videos, and Galore Mag to having scouted models on the street, Kaemi is the brand to keep your eye on. Both originally from San Fransisco, Jami first caught our attention after being featured in Nike's #forceisfemale campaign, and when we learned that her business partner Kaile was the other half of Kaemi, we knew they were clearly both MISSBISHES. Having started an online shop based on their thrifting and upcycling practices of sustainability while still styling and shooting each piece to utter perfection, Kaemi has quickly made a name for themselves. Read the interview below to learn more about their start and the value they place on authenticity.
Tell us about how you two started Kaemi.
Jami: Ironically, we sat next to each other at our San Francisco State University graduation but we didn’t become friends until a few months after that. We were both working salary jobs in retail and were tired of working for the man. We came up with the idea very casually one night over some beers and literally set up a deadline for quitting our day job within the week.
Sustainability is something that is close to your heart. Why is this issue so important to you and how are you helping the cause?
Jami: Going to fashion school in San Francisco, we were really exposed to the importance of textile sustainability. The garment industry is one of the biggest industries globally. Fast fashion consumes most of our textile landfills because their clothes are so disposable. Consumers will toss clothes after one year because they aren’t in style anymore or they were poorly made.
Kaile: Being sustainable in any aspects of your life is a positive for you and those around you. It is an empathetic approach to consumption. Where do these clothes come from? Who makes these clothes? How are these clothes made? All great questions to ask yourself when shopping.
Instagram has made it so easy for trends to catch on, and leave us just as fast. How do you stay authentically Kaemi when there’s a whole world of fast fashion out there?
Jami: We encourage our fans/shoppers to be individualistic. This means that you don’t need to wear what everyone else is buying at fast fashion retailers. Our style comes very organically. We don’t consult any sources to tell us what’s poppin' or what’s trending. We style and pick clothes based on what we like. I think that’s why people are attracted to our aesthetic -- it’s original.
Tell us about your process when styling for a client.
Kaile: We first like to see the client's personality, any style icons they might have, as well as know specific changes they would like to make to their wardrobe. Then Jami and I would go shopping with all the information at hand. After, we would host a styling session in our showroom. This should be a fun and comfortable experience for our client!
“You will not succeed if you are a replica of the next. Go out there and find your personal inspiration."
When styling a client, what’s the most important thing you keep in mind?
Jami: We wanna learn about the client. Who is she or he? Again, it’s important that the client is comfortable yet confident in their looks. Each clothing piece we pick has a story and is kinda funky, but it’s all about how to style that on your client so it makes sense for her/him.
What are the biggest influences on your vision?
Jami: I’ve always been influenced by landscape and architecture.
Mother nature makes the most beautiful color combinations. My dad is an architect; growing up, he would always make sure that good structure was noticed. I enjoy mid-century design and I find a lot of inspiration in the way a room or space makes you feel. Which translates to the mood of the shoot.
Kaile: I am inspired by personality and appearance. Not everyone, of course, fits a certain look. Being aware and selective is important to enhance the person’s best self. I love to scout potential models as well. We have discovered some individuals who are now very successful in the fashion industry.
Who is your dream individual to work with?
Jami: I would love to work with the Olsen Twins. They were the first fashion role models that I looked up to in 4th grade! They are so lowkey and mysterious. Their style is so refined, everything has a purpose. I would love to pick their brain.
Kaile: I would love to work with Nick Knight or Steven Meisel. They both have created fashion masterpieces through photography. But I could honestly go on and keep listing influentials that would be an honor to work with.
Since you are a styling team, what’s the best thing about working alongside each other and what has been a challenge?
Jami: It’s so nice having a partner! We help and balance each other out a lot. It’s good having another person to bounce ideas off of. If I don't think of an idea first, Kaile is there with an idea and vise versa. Having a team really helps with filling in anything that will slip through the cracks.
Kaile: Support! Yes we are stylists, but KAEMI has also evolved into a brand. There are so many aspects to what we do that having the both of us helps 100%. It allows us to explore many outlets rather than stick to one.
At Nike's Force is Female event this January, a discussion opened up about how clothing can be an individual’s armor. Can you expand on that idea?
Jami: I was taught from my family, at a young age, that style is a direct representation of myself. Style is a form of self expression and identity. Individual armor is another way of representing this idea because clothing can protect your identity. Personally, it acts as an armor for me because it’s something I have always counted on. If I don’t have anything else -- I know that I have my personal style, which in turn gives me confidence. And although that may sound materialistic, style is very important to me. It’s what I do and it differentiates me from the rest.
The both of you opened a brick and mortar shop last year -- what was the biggest takeaway from that experience?
Jami: Our shop in Koreatown was super fun! We had monthly parties every month to bring the community together. My biggest takeaway from that experience would be that it’s important to give your customers/fans a way to interact with you. It was awesome getting to know them because we probably wouldn’t have had that opportunity if we didn’t open the shop.
What advice would you give to women looking to get into the styling business?
Jami: If you took anything away from this interview, we hope that you remember this: be yourself, don’t try and do what everyone else is doing. You will not succeed if you are a replica of the next. Go out there and find your personal inspiration; don’t just look at Instagram for inspo.
Kaile: Starting something from the ground up is hard, but all very worth it. You have to stay positive and stay true to your brand. There will be many times of struggle, but even the negative will help you evolve into what is meant to be.
Who is your MISSBISH?
Jami: That’s hard because I do admire a lot of other girls! If I think about each girl I admire though they would all have one thing in common -- they did by themselves. My MISSBISH would be someone who is independent!
Kaile: I would have to agree! An independent woman that has it all on her own!
What are three hidden gems in LA?
Jami: The Goodwills here are super good! Normally, I am a Salvation Army girl -- but I prefer Goodwill in LA. The garage sales in Silverlake are bomb.
Kaile: We LOVE Army Surplus stores too!
What does MISSBISH mean to you?
Jami: MISSBISH means that I’m doing something right! It confirms that what we are doing is not going unnoticed. It confirms that staying relevant doesn’t mean 200K followers; it means staying organic.
Kaile: MISSBISH helps promote the positive, the independent, the culture, and the different! We are beyond happy KAEMI gets to be apart of this movement xoxo
Photographer: Christina Choi