K&K Labs is a London based accessories brand that use hand illustrated prints of animals across a variety of products to raise awareness and start a conversation about the conservation of endangered species. We chatted to founders Kim Nguyen and Kofi Ansah to find out more.
First of all we’d like to say that we love your scarfs and what the unique distinctive prints stand for. We also love your name! How did the two of you meet and what are your backgrounds?
Thank you very much! K&K LABS stands for Kim & Kofi’s LABS. LABS representing a process of experimentation, problem-solving and inventing.
We met a month before completing our BA Hons degrees at Ravensbourne University in 2011. Kim was doing a degree in womenswear fashion textiles, whilst Kofi was doing a degree in computer animation. A total opposite in terms of practices. It was the need for Kofi’s knowledge in web design that brought Kim in being introduced to Kofi by mutual friends, which went on to become a relationship, and a partnership in terms of our business.
Where are your scarves made and what is the process? Are any traditional techniques involved?
Our scarves are all designed in England, and sustainably printed in Hangzhou, China. The manufacturing process involves digitally printing our prints unto the silk derived from the same trusted manufacturer. It then goes through a process of washing, steaming and hand hemming.
Our design process starts through inspiration from wildlife and nature, and begin by traditional means of sketching from pencil to paper, transferring unto the computer for a digital representation via scanning, and then digitally processed, painted and finished in Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator and then finally sent off for printing by our trusted manufacturer.
What inspires your designs?
As mentioned briefly, our designs are inspired by wildlife and nature. It’s unfortunate to call it an inspiration, as we tend to be influenced rather, by the endangered animals list, which pushes us into highlighting and raising awareness for the critically endangered, vulnerable or in other cases, our Panda scarves, out of extinction animals, to celebrate that very purpose.
It’s therefore safe to say we celebrate and raise awareness for animals who come out extinction, as well as those who are endangered.
Your expedition to Mongolia sounds like it was a life changing, and business changing adventure. Do the proceeds still go towards the Ikh Nart Nature Reserve, or are you partnered with other charities?
Mongolia was indeed a life and business changing experience. We went through a big process of learning about argali and ibexes (mountain sheep), who are endangered in Mongolia, and of course donated a percentage of our first year’s profits to the Ikh Nart Nature Reserve.
There aren’t any proceeds going towards Ikh Nart Nature Reserve at the moment, and neither are we partnered with other charities at this moment, however, our aim is to partner and give to varying charities around the world for a much distributed reach of our donations, however big or small, based on 10% of our annual net profits. This means choosing and giving to one charity per financial year. In the future, we might consider if it’d be best to focus on one specific charity to give our ongoing donations to.
We therefore ask any wildlife organizations out there who might be willing to partner with us to contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
We aim to continue raising awareness for in and out of endangered animals through different products other than our silk scarves. We currently also raise awareness through greetings cards, men’s pocket squares and our sustainably made notebooks made out of off-cuts from our silk scarves. We aim to have our prints on many useful product types and mediums.
We are always looking to collaborate and do something different which makes an impact and influence as well as educate people and ourselves. We therefore ask anyone looking to collaborate with us to get in touch.
In the future, we aim to have our own charity to support wildlife and help bring endangered animals out of extinction. Apart from that, we also aim to go on as many wildlife expeditions to give our personal hands-on support in the field with our partnered charities, and would love to take some of our customers on these trips. Partnering with charities is something we are working on and aiming to have ongoing relationships with soon.
We currently have our summer sale going, with up to 50% off all our available silk scarves on our website at www.kklabs.co.uk/shop. We’d love to invite everyone who believes in what we stand for and do, to visit and make a contribution by owning one of our scarves or our smaller products. Our summer sale ends on July 10th.
We’d like to highlight we are not a charity, nor do we work for any charities. We are a small independent business with a mission to give and raise awareness for wildlife through our products.
To see more of Kim and Kofi’s work click here.