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Perfectdd, just the way you are.

Alice Kim is a fashion industry veteran with more than two decades of experience. She’s now the Founder and CEO of PerfectDD, a sustainable clothing brand made specifically for mid-sized women with size DD and up. 

When you look good, you feel good. I wanted to empower women to feel their best, whether it’s looking confident, feeling confident, so I went into fashion.

Alice KimFounder and CEO, PerfectDD


Julia Balick (00:05):

Hi, we are back on the building while flying podcast. I’m Julia, our producer. And on this week’s episode, Maribel speaks with Alice Kim CEO of Perfectdd. Today. We’re recording at Luminary, a professional platform created for women to address the systemic challenges impacting women across all industries. Alice is a fashion industry veteran of two decades. She’s worked for brands such as Diane van Furstenberg, Prada, and Victoria secret. But today Alice is the founder of perfected a sustainable woman’s wear brand that accommodates a double D and or bra sizes for women that have a smaller frame Maribel. What stood out to you most about this conversation?

Maribel Lara (00:47):

For me, the biggest takeaway is how deeply personal this is for Alice. As, as you dig into where the idea came from, why we, she was so passionate, um, of a out bringing this to life, you know, why would you leave a, an industry that people are dying to get into working for some of the biggest brands in that industry? It’s because you’re so passionate about and so committed to the vision of what you’re trying to create, right? Like when you listen to her story, the need for this brand, the need for what she is selling came from a place of being shamed, right? As, as a young woman and not wanting people to have to go through that anymore, right? Like it’s, it’s such a, a righteous thing to fight for. It’s also deeply personal and that she has no problem bringing in the things that she is passionate for and fights for in her personal life and connecting that to the brand, right? Like there is a real person, a real person with values and beliefs behind it. You know, you hear it in, in her talking about her relationship, her family, and growing up as the daughter of immigrants and, and the impact that that has in the way that she’s building her business. Um, so you hear it, you hear the emotion and it makes you wanna root for her. And so I think our listeners are, are gonna be rooting for her after they get to know her through this episode,

Julia Balick (02:23):

I am definitely rooting for Alice. Now let’s not keep our listeners waiting any longer. Let’s dive into Maribel’s conversation with Alice.

Speaker 3 (02:35):

Welcome to building while flying a sasha group podcast, where we interview business leaders about how they tackle challenges, stay resilient and navigate ever changing skies.

Maribel Lara (02:48):

So Alice welcome. So happy to have you here. Thank you so happy to be here. Um, so generally speaking, when I meet people, I like to ask them what it is we should know about them or what it is I should know about them. I wanna change it up a little bit, given like who our audience is for building while flying. So I want you to tell us what we should know about you. Um, that’ll give us context into the entrepreneurial journey that you’ve undertaken and, and obviously like include in that, like the origin story you for perfected,

Alice Kim (03:19):

Of course. Um, so I actually started PerfectDD out of a need to solve a problem for myself. So I’m a size two and a 32 double D naturally. I started my career in investment banking and, um, we were required to wear button downs and suit jackets, and I could never find clothes to fit it. My body. Yeah. So buttons would always pop open. What fits my shoulders would pull across my chest jackets. Won’t even close across my chest. So if I size up then it’s baggy everywhere else. I would have to pay more money to either get it tailored or settle with looking from me and feel insecure and look less profess. So I decided to do something about it. Well, okay. Before I went there, um, I transitioned my career into fashion, and now I’ve been in the fashion industry for over two decades and even being in fashion, I couldn’t find clothes that fit me. The cute puffy sleeve styles look overwhelming. So with big shoulders and of big chest, I look like a football player and I don’t feel confident. So I said to myself, you know, I need to do something about this. Yeah. And I, when I looked into it, I realized that over 20 million women fall into this demographic. So demographic meaning size, double D and up cup, chest size, that fit beats between zero to size 14. So small to mid frame. Yep.

Maribel Lara (04:44):

There’s so much in there that I wanna like dig into. So first I feel that you saw me nodding my head, right? Like I feel it personally, like I’ve been in the environments where, you know, you are required to work, wear a certain type of uniform. I went to business school in order to just attend. You had to attend and fashion has such an impact on how you feel in a room, right. It’s not just about a fashion sense. And so, um, you are absolutely addressing a need for yourself, but it’s one that I’m, I know other women feel like I have felt that, um, there are two routes you could have gone because I feel you had all of these connections in the business world. So like, talk about that. Talk about, um, what got you to this point. So Alice pre PerfectDD, right? Like what were the things you learned? Um, how did you land in fashion cuz it’s not where you started? So talk a little bit about that.

Alice Kim (05:40):

I mean, I always loved that. I truly believe that when you look good, you feel good. And I wanted to empower women to feel their best and whether it’s looking confident, feeling confident. Um, so I went into fashion. I always loved fashion. Um, I didn’t know that there was money in fashion. My parents are from Korea, immigrant Koreans, and they only knew doctor, lawyer finance. So fashion was even out of the realm, but because they saw how hard I worked in investment banking all the hours and they said, no, there has to be more to life. And we, you want you to be happy.

Maribel Lara (06:17):

I love that.

Alice Kim (06:18):

So I started from the bottom again, after my investment banking years, I started as an assistant buyer, knowing that I needed to get my foot in the door, um, into fashion. And then I just kept working my way up. So, um, what drives me as product? I love product. I love merchandise. I like choosing products, but the analytical side of me numbers. So, um, as a buyer, you have to know your numbers, meet your margins, what’s selling, what’s not, um, seasonal markdown. So I started there and then just my positions ended up growing. So I was in charge of merchandising. So that position is between the designer and the sales team. So what customers want versus the designers. And there’s, um, there has to be a hybrid because designers

Maribel Lara (07:04):

Produce beautiful things,

Alice Kim (07:06):

But if it doesn’t sell, then it’s not profitable for the company. Um, as well as licensing. So I’ve worked for brands like product, Diane Bond, Betten, and for DVF, um, shoes was in her forte. So we have a licensed partner, home fragrance, jewelry. Um, so I was in charge of that as well.

Maribel Lara (07:24):

So I would imagine you built quite a tremendous network in the fashion industry. And when the idea for PerfectDD came to you, that you had two options, one would’ve been to pitch it to an existing brand to say, here’s an opportunity. Like you should run with this. I can help you with this or to do it on your own. And you chose to do it on your own. Was that like your instinct from the very beginning?

Alice Kim (07:54):

No, not at all. So being in the industry for so long, I just knew how capital intensive it would be. So my dream was to have my own brand, but I shied away from it because of how capital intensive it would be. Um, I pitched my idea quite frankly, to a few brands. Okay. Some of them didn’t think the market was big enough for them. So it was an after and others took the idea.

Maribel Lara (08:22):

Oh, wow. I know. I don’t think that’s something we had talked about before.

Alice Kim (08:25):

No, it’s heartbreaking. Um, I try not to always talk about it, but I think it’s important for everyone. Um, you know, protect your idea, but there’s only so much. So I struggled with, do I share this market opportunity that I see or do I hold it and do nothing and get nowhere? So, um, I said to myself, I I’m so sure about this. There’s a huge market. You being a customer also. And the target demographic, there are so many other women that we need to service. That’s where I kept my eye on the prize and how do I help others? Right. If I’m feeling this way. And I said, if not, if not me, someone else is gonna do it. And some started. So I said, I will, I’m going to be hyper focused and do it myself.

Maribel Lara (09:13):

I love that. Right. I think that could have gone the other way. You could have said, well, somebody’s already doing it. Then my dream is gone. I’m not gonna continue it. But you were like, no, this is my dream. I’m gonna bring it to life. The way that I see. And in full like transparency, I’m not aware of other brands like doing what you’re doing. So kudos to you because I know your story. And I’m now familiar with PerfectDD. Um, and I don’t know who your competitors are. So, um, we can definitely talk about that. Some more, you touched upon like also having some quant leanings. Right. Um, and we’ve talked about data. So talk about like how data played into, you’ve talked about the market and you were aware of the market size, but we’ve also talked about like return rates. And so, um, that comes into play with a lot of the conversations you’re having, as you grow the brand. So talk about like data and the role it plays like day to day for you.

Alice Kim (10:12):

Oh, absolutely. So for any budding entrepreneur, I think this is held helpful too. So always try to find as much data as possible. So before I even dug into how many women fall into this demographic, I started talking to my friends and dinner conversations, just telling them about my struggle and people would raise their hand and say, I’m in that bucket too. Yeah. I mean, even today, um, so many women for all into this. So, um, and I had the privilege of having worked in fashion. So, and specifically e-commerce and stores. So I knew what the return rates are. E-commerce return rates are over 40%

Maribel Lara (10:51):

So crazy when you told me that number, I couldn’t believe it. Oh,

Alice Kim (10:54):

Crazy. And I’m being conservative because if you’re just a DTC brand direct to consumer and only sell online, that number can even go higher. Right.

Maribel Lara (11:03):

Cause 40%, isn’t a reflection of satisfaction. It’s just a reflection of the people who got motivated and went and returned it. You then gotta have a percentage of folks who never returned the item, but are still dissatisfied with it.

Alice Kim (11:15):

That’s right. That’s right. But it’s all about fit. Um, and you know, if, if your return rate is high, there are a couple of reasons. Either it’s not fitting properly, the description is not the way it should be. There’s, there’s an issue clearly that you need to look into our return rates are single digits,

Maribel Lara (11:33):

Kudos to you, like really phenomenal stat. Um, and I’ve told that Alice this before, like she needs to tell this story and like yell it, um, from the rooftops, but you are starting to carve out such a powerful story behind the brand.

Alice Kim (11:47):

Thank you so much.

Maribel Lara (11:49):

Um, you are incredibly focused in what you’re doing. So, um, first of all, when was PerfectDD founded

Alice Kim (11:57):

December of 2020, so we’re going almost on a year anniversary,

Maribel Lara (12:02):

Happy anniversary, happy early anniversary already. You’ve been asked by folks who are really happy with what you’re already doing. Like, Hey, can you also do Y and Z? Um, and you have talked about how not yet, right? Like, Hey, in the meantime, you can check out this brand or this other brand. So talk to us about why you feel that focus is really important.

Alice Kim (12:27):

I think being hyper focused in the beginning is super important because you don’t want to, you, you don’t want your message to get lost. Yeah. I think, I don’t believe that you can be something for everybody and that’s when it gets hairy, but we’re hyper focused on size zero to 14. Why? Because that market is underserved. No one to your point is looking at that demographic yet. Right now also a big request quite honestly, is plus size, but big request means few requests, right? Because we’re not as well known. We’re still a butting brand. Um, but there, the plus size market is already being serviced. There are plus size exclusive brands, sections of department stores. We completely agree. I completely agree that they’re still underserved, but the market that I’m targeting has not been touched yet.

Maribel Lara (13:20):

Amazing. Uh, when I give the introduction to PerfectDD, I mentioned that you are a sustainable brand. Talk about that and why that was important to you.

Alice Kim (13:32):

There’s just so much waste in the world. Um, I didn’t want to add to the waste clearly there’s a need for this product for these women. Um, and how can we do it sustainably minimizing waste. So anything from using the specific materials like organic cotton, which uses less water non-toxic dyes all the way to, um, the styles themselves, they’re versatile. We use the highest quality cotton. So Pima or Supima. So if you think of a cotton ball, it’s the center. So it’s the longest fibers. Okay. And the thick fibers, so withstand more washes, um, and our styles are timeless. So my VC that I’m wearing here, I can wear to the gym with sweatpants. If I wanted to everything is machine washable. Um, because of the pretty sleeve details I can wear with leather pants to wear to work, right. I can, um, dress it up. I could wear a skirt and wear for date night. So all of our pieces are versatile. We have a capsule collection of only nine styles, but we think less is more, we’re not chasing every single trend. Um, you can, a 12 year old can wear this, but so can a 65 year old and it’s timeless. So it’s not, you know, a specific cult, bold color or style. It won’t ever go out of style.

Maribel Lara (14:49):

So it’s clearly a value choice. Um, but it has significant financial implications because I can’t imagine that it is inexpensive to choose to be a sustainable brand. So what’s your build there, right? Because it’s, you’re in the early stages of your business. Um, it is a decision that at could have saved you money in the process. But tell us about that, like longer term vision.

Alice Kim (15:19):

I mean, this is where my heart is, so we want to remain sustainable. Um, it is more expensive, but I think that’s the quality that you pay for. It’s not just

Maribel Lara (15:32):

Love that. Um, you mentioned that you’re the daughter of Korean immigrants, um, another point of connection for us. We’re New York city kids. Yes. Right. Where the daughters of immigrants, um, did, does that play a role into like who you are as a person and who you now are as an entrepreneur?

Alice Kim (15:51):

Oh, absolutely. I wanna show my parents and oh my gosh. I could cry, um, live the American dream for them. So, um, the opportunities that my parents have given me, um, and you know, I definitely know that I’m privileged through all of this, the education, the networks that, um, I was able to build because of my career path. Um, so blessed, but yes, my heart and soul is into this. And a big part of PerfectDD is to be the voice of the underserved. So we’re mission driven and I have, um, collaboration supporting stop Asian hate breast cancer awareness, um, BL. So we donate proceeds, um, percentage of, so I have specific capsules

Maribel Lara (16:39):


Alice Kim (16:39):

To support, um, specific organizations, but also a pot of proceeds where we donate 1% to various organizations.

Maribel Lara (16:47):

It’s so incredible, right. To live out your values as a brand. But it’s also, I think in the like reality of what we’re living today, we have so many options, right. Even in, in industry like yours or in a niche like you’ve created, that was underserved. Like people still have choices to make. And I think a brand living out its values is how we make those choices as consumers. So I think it’s incredible that you are, you’re living them out. You’re not just saying these are the things we do, but that you are supporting it financially, even at these early stages of the business. So amazing.

Alice Kim (17:26):

Thank you.

Maribel Lara (17:27):

Um, so Alice, in terms of living out your values right in the actions, do you feel that’s a sacrifice, right? Like you are talking about charitable contributions, like taking from the revenue that is so precious at these early stages of your business and really investing that in other places. But do you feel like that’s paid off in other ways?

Alice Kim (17:49):

I feel like my passion has opened doors. So for example, actress, Lindsay price, um, found my brand on Instagram, randomly, we became friends and said, you know, it was right. It was at the height of COVID and when a lot of Asian violence was happening. Okay. So we got together and said, what can we do to help society? And that’s really part of my mission too, because it’s great to make money, but what do we do with it? We can use capitalism for good. Right. So she and I came up with, um, a hashtag speak up, speak out campaign and where we donate a hundred percent of the proceeds to a New York city organization, um, called heart of dinner where they served since COVID started, they’ve served over nine 90,000 meals.

Maribel Lara (18:38):

That’s incredible

Alice Kim (18:38):

Asian elders at risk. So a because COVID, um, hits elderly

Maribel Lara (18:44):


Alice Kim (18:45):

Harder. And secondly, because of the violence that was going on they’re are scared to go outside. So it’s food, food insecurity. So hand delivering meals to Asian, elderly it’s near and dear to my heart because imagining my parents be those elders in need just breaks my heart. So I found them on the Ellen generous show and contacted them like rapidly contact, email phone,

Maribel Lara (19:12):

Like, yeah,

Alice Kim (19:13):

Instagram finally got ahold of them and said, we wanna help. How can we help? And that’s how we launched our, um, API

Maribel Lara (19:19):

Campaign. You’d be surprised how many people wouldn’t send that email or that, that DM on Instagram because they think there won’t be a response. But so many times there will be on the other side. The other thing I was gonna say is that relationship that you formed with Lindsay, I would put my money on the fact that if you tried to find an influencer to work with for the brand, you wouldn’t have that same kind of result, right? The fact that you, you had a story that you were doing, things that she personally connected with, that prompted her to reach out to you is so much more powerful than anything you could have purchased, right. Any relationship you could have purchased. So, um, I think that’s a phenomenal example for our listeners.

Alice Kim (20:09):

Thank you.

Maribel Lara (20:11):

Um, so I, I have one last question for you and I might sneak in another build based on what your response to this is, but, um, you have really created a category, right? Like you have found, you’ve almost created a voice for the voiceless in, in the fashion category. Um, there is however, a lot of stigma and for some like shame around, um, the conversation around breast size, right. Brock cup size. So talk about how you’ve navigated that and, and how that’s resulted in what perfect it is.

Alice Kim (20:48):

We talk about the uncomfortable we want to, we come as our authentic selves and we talk about our insecurities of being boob, shamed, the oversexualizing of big boobs, and we address it head on. And I think that when you start the conversation is when we start evoking change. So it’s really important and that we bring attention to it. Why should boobs be taboo? It’s a body part that every female has. Yep. So that’s the conversation that we’re trying to change from over sexualizing and body shaming to that of body positivity and, and acceptance.

Maribel Lara (21:20):

And you had mentioned in a previous conversation like you don’t actually hire models.

Alice Kim (21:25):

No, no. So we were, we’re so fortunate. All of our quote unquote models are customers and none of the photos are Photoshops. So they’re raw and real as they are,

Maribel Lara (21:37):

As you are. Alice. Thank you. This was such a fun conversation. I think there’s a lot for our audience to take away. So thank you so much for being a guest.

Alice Kim (21:46):

Thank you for having me.

Speaker 3 (21:50):

Thanks for joining us for building while flying today. I hope you learned as much as we did. We’ll meet you right back here next time for another flight.

Speaker 5 (22:01):

If you’d like to hear more about how business owners and brands are navigating these times, tune in to the next episode. And if you’re so kind, please rate and review us, plus we’d love feedback. So let us know what you think, what you’d like us to dig into next on building while flying across brands, businesses, marketing, and more

Speaker 3 (22:16):

Original music by Fulton street music group.

Welcome to Building While Flying!

This weekly podcast is brought to you by Sasha Group. We’re the consultancy meets agency arm of the VaynerX family of companies. We help ambitious companies build strong brands that flex with the times through strategy, branding media and marketing.

In ever-changing times, businesses and brands have to shift and adapt. And across all sectors, there is an air of experimentation. Business owners are trying new things out in the wild;  building the plane while flying.

Our pilots, Katie Hankinson and Mickey Cloud, will be talking to a diverse range of business leaders and founders. They’ll explore how these guests tackle various challenges while staying resilient and committed to growth. Through these real-life examples of strategies put into practice, we hope to inspire you to experiment and develop your own strategies as we all navigate these uncertain times together.

From Finance to Fashion. 

Alice Kim is a fashion industry veteran with more than two decades of experience. She’s now the Founder and CEO of PerfectDD, a sustainable clothing brand made specifically for mid-sized women with size DD and up. 

In this episode, Alice chats with Maribel about every step of her journey: from starting her career in finance to leading PerfectDD today. Throughout their conversation, Alice shares lessons she learned along the way and offers advice for fellow entrepreneurs. She also emphasizes the importance of staying focused on your audience and incorporating your values into how you run your business. 

Other in-flight topics:

  • Finding a product-market fit
  • Importance of data in brand building
  • Focusing on a specific audience
  • Building a sustainable business
  • Living your values through your business
  • …and more!

Links | Connect with Alice

New York, NY
Chattanooga, TN
Los Angeles, CA