Meet Karol Bartoszynski of Karol B Clothing
I sold my first costume in 2005. Up until then it had just been a life-long hobby.
It was a costume I made for myself & someone randomly emailed me asking about it. I was so proud of myself that I started looking for costume work locally in the San Francisco Bay Area.
I found an agent advertising her services on Craigslist, so I had my girlfriend take some photos of me dressed up in different outfits I had thrown together & set up an interview. The agent was happy to represent me & I got several jobs in 2006 making costumes for locals.
In 2007, I moved to Los Angeles to pursue a master’s degree, but ended up changing my mind. I tried to find opportunities to do costume work for the film industry & ended up helping with a student film. Later, I found a job as an extra for a company making military training videos & ended up helping them with art department and wardrobe work off & on for a couple years.
In 2010, I started a desert festival called Wasteland Weekend. Running themed events was always a dream of mine. It was a lot of work, with little reward, but I cemented my place in the post-apocalyptic fan community & also made a great network of lifelong friends.
Ever since moving to LA, I had nothing but a string of jobs with horrible bosses. I was ready to leave the medical field that had made ends meet for good. Also, after 5 years of running Wasteland Weekend, I was ready for something less stressful, and a new horizon to conquer.
That’s when I started getting serious about one of my biggest passions: designing clothing, costumes & accessories. So in 2015, I officially started Karol B Clothing.
Life is full of surprises & I’ve come to expect crises on a regular basis!
Before moving to Los Angeles, I was working as a surgical technician & making costumes on the side.
After I moved to LA, my financial stability got demolished by the Great Recession, tuition costs & one of the biggest mistakes of my life: loaning a huge sum to a friend. So launching my own festival & my own clothing line has definitely been a struggle!
Moving from one terrible part-time job to another was also tough. And trying to really become sustainable as a business has been surprisingly difficult.
At Karol B Clothing, I offer unique outerwear, as well as interesting pants, vests, shirts & dresses. As a designer that is rooted in a love for movie costumes, I offer a lot of items that can be used as both fashion & cosplay, but also as stage wear, rockstar clothing & alternative fashion.
Having been a huge Mad Max fan for most of my life, and having helped start the largest post-apocalyptic festival in the world, there is a huge dystopian & apocalyptic influence to my creations. I love things with character & a story to tell.
I’ve never been into boring, and it seems like a bad strategy for getting my brand out there. I offer things that are fun, stand out & make a statement!
For me, success seems to gravitate a lot around volume. My goal is to find the secret to selling a thousand items a month! There are so many companies all around us that sell millions of products every year – but how did they get there?
Without volume, I won’t be able to get my latest designs off the shelves fast enough to design new things for the next season. It also makes it easier to order minimum quantities of fabrics & trims. Obviously, volume would also help make this financially sustainable.
I don’t see myself abandoning fashion anytime soon, so success for me is really just about making sure I figure out how to earn a real living from making unique, creative, high-quality products. This is what I love to do!