INTERVIEW: Keiko Limehouse of Mina/Mas

Since returning to Columbia, SC I’ve been meeting and speaking with alot of people. Some of it has been to progress my own personal brand and to make moves for myself independent of my internet presence, and some of it has been to strengthen my internet presence and bring that original content that I’ve been whining about wanting to bring. Well last Saturday I sat down with Keiko Limehouse at her boutique Mina/Mas, here in Columbia, and engaged her in a conversation(I like this term instead of interview). During the time I was there I was allowed to witness first hand the individual attention she gives to each client and how she explains a garment’s functionality, as well as how she pretty much is a stylist for loyal clients. The conversation went for a few hours and so I have divided it into two sections. While you’ll have to wait for part 2 which will speak more about the boutique specifically, here is the first part which focuses on Keiko and her opinions as well as her two children, Mina her 10 year old daughter, and Mas her 3 year old son.

See the rest of the interview below the clip

803: I know the name, Mina/Mas came from your children, so were they a big inspiration?

Keiko: Absolutely, I was doing real estate before and my daughter had got to a point where she wasn’t seeing mommy necessarily work because my work was done by the time she got home from school. As well as seeing mommy flip investment properties, she wasn’t there to see that. So she would comment “So and so’s mom made cookies and cakes” and not really see what mommy was doing. So I felt that in order for her to really respect what mommy was doing, she really needed to see how much work mommy really does put into things and how passionate I am about everything that I do. So given that everything that I do in life is for them I felt that it had no other option than to be named after them

I wanted my daughter to not only see the hard work and the rewards but You know I left a really nice comfort zone career to pursue my passion. I wanted her to see that you know anytime you put your mind up to something you can make it happen. It was important for me to impose independence on her and my son and allow her to see the whole process. They are the reason I wake up in the morning so it had to be named after them.

803: So are those art pieces that are featured theirs?

Keiko: Yes, my daughter is a phenomenal little artist and we have several local restaurants and businesses that want to host her stuff. And once I started to get to the place that people were actually asking for it, I decided that I should be the one to host her stuff. So eventually once we get more pieces we’re going to develop an attachment to our site. Since she’s so little I didn’t want to develop her own personal site just yet, because there are crazy people out there, so I was mindful of that so I want people to see her page in attachment to ours. And I’m all about my kids and helping htem pursue whatever they want to do and she has a talent that was given to her and I want her to develop that

803: Did she design those pieces specifically for the store?

Keiko: I just let her do whatever she has in her mind. She does do alot of different kind of artwork, she does acrylic, oil, pastel, watercolor, animal, contemporary, she does it all. And I don’t try to influence her with what direction to go into I just let her do what she wants to do.

803: Do you have any specific opinions about fashion in a national or international sense?

Keiko: I’m the type of person that is notorious for wearing $1000 shoes with a $2 t-shirt. I’m not necessarily a huge fan of a brand or a designer just because of the label but instead I like the colors, the fabrics, textiles, the make of the items, and how long it’s going to last. I like the ones that haven’t been recognized yet.

803: Do you regret not taking the location advice?

Keiko: No because in that time frame I’ve been given more time to reflect and grow as well as to critique the bigger plans. So I don’t regret it because I thing that everything that happens happens for a reason. And I can’t say the location that I have is a bad one,. Columbia is very nichey in the sense that you go to specific places. It’s not like this is a high volume area with boutiques on every corner like it is in California. So with that being said you’er going to gear towards only certain areas. But no I don’t regret it at all, I think it gave me time for growth and to allow me to do what I needed to do.

803: Do you have any specific feelings on the Columbia Fashion Industry in comparison to the other industries out there.

Keiko: In comparison to a lot of other industries we are a lot behind but I think that gives a lot of the talent here room to grow. So it’s a great place to be if you have a dream and desire and talent, it’s a great place to start. Instead of like jumping into more established industries, I think that it’s a great place to start. There are a lot of great things going on. But in comparison to some of the bigger industries I think we’re a lot behind. So, it has it’s goods and it’s bads. I think that being that we’re so behind allows for those people who are trying to make moves to grow and to make those moves.

803: Do you feel as if Columbia will ever be able to have an actual voice in fashion seeing as we have so many other more stronger industries nearby?

Keiko: I think that we can but as a whole I think that a lot of people are scared to step on the same platform. I think that a lot of times people work against each other instead of with each other. And that extends a lot even outside of the industry, but I feel as if we focus on the bigger plans and the bigger picture and be willing to step on the same playing field instead of trying to be crabs in a bucket, for lack of better terms. then we could easily compete with some of our closer markets.

Read Part Two.