Joomi Lim made her mark in the accessories world with Joomi Joolz, her line of whimsical crystal hair clips and jewelry. Now, she’s moving into the apparel arena with a new line of T-shirts that debuted in the June fall II market and already accounts for 25 percent of her business.
What makes her line of fitted tank tops, baby-doll Ts and long-sleeved crewnecks different from the contemporary T-shirt lines (Three Dot, Michael Stars, Juicy Couture among them) crowding the market is their homage to the signature glitz and glamour of her accessories.
“We hit the market at the right point. Everything glittery and chic is in now, and it was a natural transition,” Lim said.
Her line combines two hot trends: novelty T-shirt screening and rock ‘n’ roll-inspired embellishment. The tops, which are hand-screened and affixed with 100 Swarovski crystals apiece, are priced between $32 and $42 wholesale and sell in Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys New York, Henri Bendel and in local specialty shops such as Fred Segal, Kitson, Traffic, Jacqueline Jarrot and Planet Blue.
Based on the responses she encountered in June market, Lim is prepared to do more business for the holiday-resort market. Her 3,200-square-foot mid-Wilshire studio, where design, production of jewelry and hair accessories — handbags and T-shirts are contracted out — and shipping take place, is a hub of activity, with 35 employees.
For fall, the color palette includes deep burgundy, khaki and purple. August delivery shirts will be different shades of the same hues. Not surprisingly, Lim has developed a following and gained invaluable exposure with pop music stars Gloria Estefan, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. She’s also made custom overalls and jeans for Jessica Simpson.
Lim, who came to the U.S. from Korea when she was 16, went into business 3 1/2 years ago, sending her accessories designs to a New York showroom and selling small groups to Barneys and Fred Segal.
Last August, Lim partnered with Holly Moore, a former Nordstrom buyer and handbag designer, a move that expanded the Joomi Joolz brand to include bags. Handbags range from $26 to $102; jewelry, $5 to $42, and hair accessories, $4 to $29.
The T-shirts have brought the partners new accessories customers. “Like anything in fashion, you don’t know how long this is going to last, so you need to move on,” said Moore.
Next Lim, who is represented in the Cristina Angarola showroom in the California Mart, plans to expand on the current 100 percent cotton bodies to include keyhole necklines and Seventies- and Eighties-style ruched tops in nylon Lycra spandex. She’ll also include less embellished styles.
“Right now, the shirts are more novelty, and we want to add more real clothes,” Lim said.
Joomi Joolz, which earns about 50 percent of its sales in the fourth quarter, grossed about $3 million in sales last year. “This year’s first quarter was the best we ever had,” said Lim. “We would like to double our 2000 sales from last year.”
Lim and Moore have put those profits back into the company in order to expand, but they’re still cautious of growing too fast. The team to add sunglasses and shoes this year, but pulled back in order to concentrate on the existing lines.
“Of course, we like to think we create trends, but it’s important to also follow what other people want. Now our company is so varied it’s likely if they don’t want one thing, they’ll want something else.”

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