One of the more interesting tidbits about the K2K twin sisters Kathy and Karen Norman, is that they don’t just see themselves as “designers”, neither do they call themselves such. With a background in International Business with concentrations in Finance and Marketing, their formal art training is in drawing, painting - fine art, with the core study being the human form and Picasso’s theory of cubism. At heart, these sisters are artists, rather than designers.
Their jobs at K2K Alliance and Partners, the 2019 overall band of the year winners, and NORMI, their newest resort wear clothing line, are very multi-faceted, ranging from: developing firm-wide strategies, to financing and fundraising, client interfacing, drawing, textile design, designing, script writing, mixing the music for the show as well as producing the show for each Collection.
Although developing each Collection is enjoyable, seeing the entire Collection come together on the night of the Premiere, is what they believe to be is very fulfiling. The design process is very organic, with themes evolving in the natural order of things. Life - the good times, the bad, and even the times in between - provides latitude for writing and creativity. And they enjoy using this as a medium to bring Collection to life. Each write, sketch and paint, with various concepts springing forth at the most unplanned moments. It is no surprise then that you can easily find them capitalising on those creative spurts by indulging in the habit of walking around with a tiny notebook in their bags, and in so doing, have the ability to document their thoughts in real time.
K2K Alliance & Partners is launching its 2020 Carnival Collection at the Queen’s Hall on Friday 30th August 2019. K2K’s 2020 Collection is called “The Greatest Show” with the circus being the analogy for this topsy-turvy ride called life. When asked about their journey through it all, this is what the sisters had to share with the WE Mag team:
What has the journey been like expanding from your well-known K2K brand to introduce your clothing line Normi & Normi?
The journey, in general, is a slow yet steady upward climb.
“I know! I know!” You were expecting us to say, the journey was easy (chuckle). Unfortunately, it is not. The terrible truth is, nothing worth fighting for, comes easy. And if it did, then the pure relief, and the undeniable gratitude, and the genuine joy from the triumph, like the “Thank you Jesus!” or the “Thank you manna from Heaven” would not be there.
Without a doubt, there will always be constant challenges that test one’s endurance. Quite often, when things spiral downward, I find myself questioning the path chosen, as well as the decision to continue with the journey ahead. And in those moments, I often reflect on one of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird quotes, which states, “Real courage is when you know you’re licked before you begin, but begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”
K2K and NORMI took a lot of courage to move from dream to fruition. You see, it is easy to have a dream. It is easy to hold that dream close - keep it to yourself - and say, one day I’ll build that dream. But the real test comes when you expose that dream to the world and the world critiques that dream. Although the conceptualization of the brand was easy, the real difficulty came in the form of pushing past the fear to birth the dream. The irony here is, the fear does not leave after the umbilical cord of the dream is cut. Instead, the fear augments and manifests in different ways as the dream develops and grows. Thus, as you navigate through the course, you must try to keep sight of the end goal.
Both brands fundamentally proved that there is power in believing – believing in oneself; believing in God; believing in the process, even when that process forces one to question the end goal. You see, crossroads and failures are not merely the wounds of the war. Instead, those scar tissues are badges of honour. They validate that this soldier has enough courage to fight in the next war. And note, I said, “next war” – because there will always be a next; and a next; and a next.
What was the biggest challenge you have had to overcome and how did you deal with it?
Honestly, the way that you formulated that question, made me pause and reflect on my history and trajectory. Challenges… Life is full of them. And just as you think you’ve conquered one, another pops up in its place. I think the biggest challenge has been finding the willpower to get up each time we take a knock in life’s ring. You see, surrendering to defeat is the easier demon. But getting up…Getting up requires a determination that is difficult to find. And so… how do we deal with it? My honest answer is: We pray before we enter any and all rings. We pray for strength. We pray for guidance. We pray for the ability to work through difficult situations and to hold on long enough to see the light at the end of the tunnel. And after we pray, we glove up and enter the ring prepared to fight.
What are you all most grateful for?
We are grateful that God gives us the strength to deal with the things that we cannot change and the power to change the things we can. Growing up, my mum would say, “Faith goes up the stairs that love has built and looks out the windows which hope has opened.” However, as children, we could not relate to the messaging. Our journey has taught us that love, and hope, and faith, are anchors in the journey. Part of our salvation and resilience comes from having a very supportive family, blood and extended. You see, there are so many moments when all we want to do is give-up or cave-in. However, my family always reminds me that in God you find hope. My dad always says, “God might wear pajamas, but he doesn’t sleep, baby.” This means that God is there with every rising and setting sun. And my mum says, “Everything happens for a purpose, even the bad-happenings.” Thus although believing in the process - believing that it will all work out in the end - takes a-real-honest-to-God leap of faith, it is this blind faith that gives us strength day after day. With that said, we are grateful we have faith or at least enough faith to believe.
Why do you do what you do?
I suppose the simple answer is - We were searching for our purpose. Purpose, however, is sneaky. Quite often it hides in plain sight. Finding one’s purpose can be like finding a hundred dollar bill in one’s pants pocket just as one is about to drop the pants in the washing machine. More often than not, life is tumbled, tumbled mess. In a strange way it is quite similar to a mix of dirty clothes, in an overfilled laundry basket.
Life is dirty. It is dirty because once we leave the womb we are stained by experience. And life is cluttered. It is cluttered because the world of consumption has made it excessive. But the truth is, accumulating the dirt is a necessary evil and those dirty clothes, in turn, will accumulate a history - Those dirty clothes tell you where you’ve been. Those dirty clothes tell you how many times you’ve fallen. They tell you what you’ve accomplished too. Hence those dirty clothes are very important. However, quite often, it is difficult to see the way forward when you look at the heap of dirty laundry. In this case, the only way forward is to sort out the clothes. You see, sorting out the coloured from the whites is necessary. It is essential because it forces you to unconsciously learn something about yourself amongst the clutter. K2K and now NORMI were both hidden amongst the clutter. But I suppose they were always there, but overlooked. The “terrible thing” about clutter is - it is recurring. As such, there will always be a constant need to do the laundry. Each time we go through the wash-and-rinse cycle with K2K and now NORMI, we obtain a clear picture of our purpose.