HONOLULU (KHON2) — When it comes to success for any small business hard work is always key and that’s exactly what led to the success of KY’s International Fashion.
Like many businesses, Howard Ky struggles to find good employees so he’s grateful to have a few good men and women. As well as some space to move around in. That’s because he started KY’s International Fashion in the family’s home and operated his business as a one-man band.
“I go to Waikiki, doing the sales, collect money and take orders,” said Ky.
“Just you?” KHON2 News asked.
“Yeah just me,” Ky replied.
Then he moved into this warehouse in the year 2000, and things started to blow up — and not just here in the islands.
“When I moved here business was good for me, and I started doing trade shows in the mainland Las Vegas and Orlando,” said Ky.
And funny enough it wasn’t just the mainland, he started to develop markets in Japan and in Europe, with the largest being Germany of all places.
Today he sells more shirts outside of Hawaii, than he does here.
When COVID hit, the jumbo-sized sales disappeared. Not to mention his salespeople.
Enter his son Ethan Ky who joined the company about a year ago. It wasn’t the plan but the combination of fewer employees and the desire to learn the business made it a perfect fit.
“I knew that my dad ran this business for so long, I may as well join him and learn what he has to offer. His guidance, and choose my own path,” said Ethan.
There’s also a sense of wanting to get back to his father, knowing how hard he worked all those all of his life to give them a good life.
“I’m lucky enough that he was able to send me and my brother to private school and then later on to college after growing up, I realize how much it all cost,” said Ethan. “So I’m extremely grateful for it.”
He said dad was also hard-working and centered, which ironically, has become the company’s secret to success. Keeping everything centered.
“How our main design is always in the middle,” said Ethan. “It takes more fabric that way and more effort to make those shirts not a lot of companies want to do that.”
And they have total control of the design process because it’s all done in-house.
“We do everything right here we’re cutting and marking the paper right here without all the fabric and we cut it right here,” explained Ethan.
And in many cases, it’s Howard who does the cutting. Just like those early days, when he did everything by himself.
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“And if there’s anything that goes wrong or we’re short-staffed, he’s right there and he teaches somebody how to fix it or teaches me how to fix it and it’s inspiring,” said Ethan.