Meet Mikey Koffman – The driving force behind LA Fashion Week and a true California girl with an east coast sensibility
Posted on August 02 2010
Mikey Koffman is keeping busy these days but it’s a pace that she’s grown accustomed to. Before her foray into Fashion close to 10 years ago, Koffman was the first female to own a custom motorcycle shop in Long Beach –Sin Cycles. These days, you can catch her on Showtime’s “The Real L Word” and preparing for LA Fashion week in October. She’s currently spearheading the growth and rejuvenation of this major event through her event production and marketing company (The Gallery).
Talking to Mikey Koffman is like re-uniting with an old friend whom you haven’t spoken to in a long while but everything seems to fall right into place the moment you say hello. She’s a bundle of energy and you immediately feel at ease with her. Our conversation starts off like many do in L.A. – the crazy driving in this town. We run through everything from her passion for fashion to her style, her role on The Real L Word and of course celebrity. Our no holds barred interview not only features a rare insight into the fashion world but also shows a down to earth power house who’s not afraid to speak her mind and a true advocate for Los Angeles Fashion. An hour later, we’re all caught up and there’s a slight pause, you realize you can’t wait to do it again.
Her Passion for Fashion
“It’s interesting because I’m somebody that’s in jeans and a t-shirt every day. I’m really passionate about the production side of things. I love pulling together the designers and I actually helped start LA Fashion week on the roof of the Downtown Standard Hotel which was about 9 years ago. So I did that for about 71/2 years and then my company has picked it up and taken off with it for the past 2 years.”
A true Angeleno with an East Coast attitude
“I used to have half of my business out on the East Coast for many years; I travel a lot to New York every year for events and stuff. I have to tell you one thing I appreciate about New York is the East Coast attitude. These guys either love you or they hate you and there’s no in between. I just feel like that’s how I’ve always been. I really appreciate East Coasters more than I appreciate my West Coasters (laughing). Either we’re high-fiving or duking it out in the streets.”
“I have thrown celebrities out of fashion shows. If you’re rude and obnoxious and disrespectful to my team, I don’t care if you are the Editor of vogue or you are fricking Angelina Jolie, it doesn’t matter. We’re all here to treat each other kindly at the runway shows, to have fun at our events. At the end of the day, the bullshit attitude in our business, it’s a joke to me.”
Not taking Fashion too seriously
“It’s funny because our job is not that serious. If you are not enjoying what you’re doing and having fun at it, what’s the point? People turn fashion into an emergency room crisis and it’s actually not.”
New York Fashion vs. L.A Fashion
“My company is built on being the polar opposite of what New York Fashion week is. It’s about having fun, having a great time working with some great people. I’ll work with 200 no-name brands as long as they’re cool and fun and they’re having fun working with us. I’d pick those brands over other brands that are big names with bigger egos and want to be just really commanding and dramatic. It’s all about having a good time. We work with some great consumer brands out here on the West Coast. The thing that differentiates us is that we’re doing consumer fashion out here. We’re driving trends, we’re driving what people are buying in the department stores and New York is driving a lot of ego and a lot of vanity projects. I love New York Fashion Week, I think it’s beautiful but the stuff you see on the runway is not going into production. People aren’t wearing it walking down the street. It’s great and beautiful but I feel like what we’re doing makes sense for the designers, for their buyers and the media.”
Her inspiration, even after so many years in the business
“I’m inspired by the designers; I’m inspired by the team of girls that work the showroom around here. They’re really amazing and to be able to work with people that you respect and love…we have a small family here. I’m also really blessed to be able to work with designers that just turn things over and let me handle it turn-key. We have Dolce Vita here and we got to work with Richie Sambora’s White Trash Beautiful last season….all the collaboration and creativity is awesome.”
Catapulting LA Fashion Week to the level of NYC, Milan and Paris
“At the end of the day, it all comes down to dollars. If we can get our big sponsors back on board, and our title sponsors back, that would really help elevate Fashion Week. Everything that we do for Fashion Week now is not a money maker whatsoever for my company but I’ve been so passionate about it that I wasn’t going to let it just fall to the wayside.”
Advice for up and coming Designers (Koffman launched her own clothing line which went international within the first year a few years ago)
“Don’t do it (laughing). I made a lot of mistakes that cost me a lot of money. Having a business plan and capital that you need to actually launch your brand is really important… before you even put pencil to paper to do a flat sketch, that is the first step. A lot of small businesses and designers don’t do that. They just fly by the seat of their pants, burn through all their money and are unable to afford Production or Marketing and PR. You also have to know your target audience and target market.”
Becoming a part of Showtime’s “The Real L Word”
“I said no before I said yes. You need to know that this wasn’t pitched as a reality show; it was pitched to us as a documentary series. Some of the editing has not made me happy, they definitely have their own story lines for us and it can be a little frustrating because it makes it not so real and not so much of a documentary. The one thing I will say about Showtime is they’ve been amazing and they’ve allowed us to write our blogs and be honest about what was really going on in those episodes. That has been the saving grace. I get that they need to make a dramatic show that is sellable but it’s been hard to have somebody else tell a different story about your life.
Public Response to the Show
“I’m smart, I don’t read the blogs. There were so many people judging us before the show even came out. I have a good sense of humor about it all, even when people say mean things. I think somebody said ‘Bon Jovi wants his hair back’ and I was like hell yeah….they’re relating me to Bon Jovi. I love that (laughing). I do pay attention to the positive things written on facebook which is huge for me because I never even went on facebook before that.”
More than the “L” Word
“I didn’t build my business on being gay. Honestly, I haven’t even been involved with that many gay people. I don’t hang out at gay bars; I may go to The Abbey and have drinks every once in a while….My whole life, I’ve had to work twice as hard to be respected and not be that gay girl, that lesbian girl. I’m all about equal rights but I don’t feel the need to talk about gay rights. For me, it’s all about equal rights for every human being.”
Fame, Celebrity and the Moral of it all…
At the end of the day, you just have to be able to laugh at yourself. You cannot take yourself too seriously and just for the record, I don’t believe that anyone that does reality shows should call themselves celebrities…at all.