Thirty-three years after opening her Dosa store downtown, founder Christina Kim plans to close its doors in favor of a more one-on-one concept.
In an interview Tuesday, Kim said the decision was a long time coming. While the 200-square-foot store will shutter Dec. 21, she has a 2,000-square-foot by-appointment installation-type space at 121 Varick Street that will continue. That is known as “flyingfishprojects.”
Kim said, “Our business has become so much more personalized rather than street-driven with people walking in. We are really building this relationship with clients and it has become much more one-on-one. You really talk to customers more and know what they have. We either talk on the phone, send images or they make an appointment and come in. The service has become much more important than ever before.”
Kim added, “That level of service requires more prep work, and running a ground-floor store in SoHo no longer seemed necessary. As is the case with Dosa’s Los Angeles outpost, Kim decided by-appointment meetings with clients would allow for a more collaborative, private and enriching experience.”
The designer took over the lease from her designer friend Yonson Pak, who specialized in architectural clothing. In her late 20s at that time, the store provided a good base and the noon to 7 p.m. hours allowed for nighttime clubbing just about whenever she wanted. The set-up also gave her free time most mornings to cook up design ideas. “Yonson was going to close it and I ended up taking over the space. I had no idea that was what I was going to do for 33 years,” Kim said.
Along with the challenges of running a store, Kim watched as the shop became a kind of social venue — a stand-in for a neighborhood café that was part salon, part Thompson Street hangout. More than three decades later, Kim has taken an artisanal approach to her work, which has been featured in exhibitions at the Palm Springs Art Museum and the Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum. As the business evolved, Kim ran a factory in Los Angeles and traveled globally for weeks on end to collaborate with artists. She also has taken to creating temporary, thematic spaces and installations that change with each design project. She is archiving Dosa, teaching and preparing work for upcoming exhibitions. “My clients are really interested in stories and understanding how things are made. When they come to the space, they feel emotion, can spend time and see and feel how we make things. It’s much more about projects,” she said.
At the Varick Street location, examples of indigo embroidered desert floras are displayed on different tables so that visitors can see how they are made, and to touch it. There is “a mutual respect” for looking at goods that are not just to be purchased but also to understand how they are made, Kim said.
Consumer demand for her “standard issue” collection is so strong that the team “can’t produce fast enough,” Kim said. Retail sales range from $255 to $935 and the average sale is $400. “I think people are very conscious of materials and how they are made. We are still doing so well with indigos,” she said.
Planning to be in New York from Dec. 16 to 21 as the store winds down, Kim hopes to reconnect with many Dosa fans. She also expects to open “a bottle of something sparkling” toward the end of each day and perhaps indulge in a little reminiscing. Ready for the next installment, Kim is far from bittersweet about the Thompson Street store closing. “Oh, no, no — not at all. I really like this idea of sharing the story and I am much more involved with selling it myself. I’m at A’meree’s [in Newport Beach, Calif.] right now doing a trunk show. In fact, they are waiting for me to give them a price on something,” she said.