Kim Heyman: The Positive Side of Fashion
By Mandy A. Bradley
There are certain people you cross paths with in life that you immediately recognize as being truly genuine and generous. In my personal experience, Kim Heyman is one of those people. I met Kim when I was twenty-three years old working at a large fashion company, Aeffe USA, in New York City. We were part of the PR team for Aeffe, a manufacturer of designer clothing in Italy. For my first “big” job in NYC, this was a dream come true. A beautiful six-story townhouse served as our office building, full of all the editorial collections of the designers that we were working to sell and promote. Celebrities and their stylists, market and fashion editors from magazines like Vogue, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar walked in and out daily. I stood in the middle of collections straight off of the European runways as part of my daily routine. I was surrounded by the designers clothing that I had admired for years, such as Alberta Ferretti, Moschino, Jean Paul Gaultier, Rifat Ozbek and Narciso Rodriguez. It truly sounds like a fashion lover’s dream, but I did encounter some “The Devil Wears Prada” moments along the way in the high-end fashion industry in general. One person, in particular, who was always kind and always respectful (even during the madness of awards season or huge New York events,) was Kim Heyman. I worked in a position below her- she was never unkind and always had a smile for us.
Today I am grateful to still be in touch with her. It is refreshing to see that while her life, which is glamourous by most standards, Kim is still the most giving and generous. So it's no surprise that years later, she is using her knowledge and love of fashion to assist designers Tamara Salem, Ella Levy, Elisha Arbargel, and Stunnized Club from her beloved city Tel Aviv, Israel. Kim has become a brand ambassador and recently launched Kimheyman.com, a website for the sales and promotion of these designers.
Kim’s goal is to promote these designers in the United States. She travels back and forth between NYC and Tel Aviv, bringing styles back and forth to influence both markets. Years ago, as she began her travels to Israel, Kim stumbled upon these designers and fell in love with their clothing and work ethic. Kim has been acting in the manner of a creative director, helping these designers to improve sales in the US. She also consults with them to make more conservative and modest looks for broader audience appeal, highlighting the several beautiful Tamara Salem pencil skirts which are a staple in her wardrobe. The clothing is modest but innovative and sophisticated with an edge. Elegant and edgy can be done well and this is evidenced by the work of designers that Kim promotes. I cannot say enough about their minimalist, classic pieces that have a surprise, edgy or unique structural feature. After admiring these looks for so long, I am so proud to now possess several of these pieces in my wardrobe. My “Fairy Godmother” moment came when Kim sent me several articles of beautiful clothing by Tamara Salem and Ella Levy!!! The clothing is just as beautiful in person. Her generosity and seeing other’s happiness almost seems unreal in these very self-absorbed times.
Israeli designers have gotten a good deal of press in the past few years, with celebrities as famous as Beyonce wearing some of their pieces (Galia Lahav and Shahar Avnett), huge names in fashion design such as Yigal Azrouel, Alber Elbaz, and Elie Tahari have put Israeli fashion on the map, and lately, we’ve seen celebrities such as Bella Hadid and Priyanka Chopra wearing Mareil998 by designer Maya Reik. Kim swears that the talent in Israel is every bit as good if not better than the design coming out of the US. However, many designers just don’t have the means to mass produce or to effectively promote their lines.
Kim felt compelled to give her time instead of just giving money. She feels much more fulfilled helping these designers to turn their amazing talents into success. Kim can’t say enough how hard they work, as well as how unbelievably grateful they are. Helping these designers also led her to another group who needed her, the young girls at the Eden Boarding School in Israel. These girls come from abusive homes and have very little. Kim’s voice changes when she discusses the time that she spends at the school, you can hear the love and fulfilment in her voice. A portion of her website’s sales is donated to this school. This story makes me smile I can’t think of anything more rewarding than turning something shallow like fashion, that we love regardless, into something meaningful, that can make us feel whole. Kim was interviewed for a podcast recently, and she said something that I find so essential to keep in mind. “What you have does not make you any more special. Do something to elevate your soul.” We should all remember that daily.
This is what make's Kim the remarkable woman that she is because you don't often see this type of spirit and mentorship in the high-end fashion industry. I do still love it, but there is a great deal of shallow, materialistic thinking (shocker!) It is admirable to see someone like Kim, who could choose a path of insulated entrepreneurship and personal success, choose to entwine with her people, personally touch their lives and share in her success. Kim is a testimony to the fact that fashion, which is often considered to be only about exclusivity, judgement, or material possessions, can also be about making people feel beautiful and seeing designers have the success that they perhaps would not have known without the help of someone so enthusiastic and generous.
More about the author:
Mandy A. Bradley is a freelance fashion writer and illustrator. She has written and illustrated for the Baton Rouge, Louisiana publication City Social Magazine for 13 years. After graduating college, she worked in New York City in the high-end fashion industry and later returned home to Louisiana, where she began teaching art at a large high school and has been doing so for 18 years. Mandy feels fortunate that she can incorporate her love of art, fashion and travel into her daily interactions and lessons with students as well as in her writing.