Brand partnerships director, Billionaire Boys Club
For her senior-year thesis project at Parsons, where she was studying fashion design, Mimi Choi decided to design kids’ clothing. “I was inspired by Takashi Murakami—I saw his work at the Brooklyn Museum in 2008, and I realized that he did this installation with Pharrell called ‘The Simple Things’ at Art Basel in Switzerland,” she says. But, at the time, she was unsure of who her market was. “I wondered, who is the audience for my vision? Who has the money to buy this?” After some research, she came across two brands she thought fit the bill: Billionaire Boys Club and A Bathing Ape. “They were Japanese [brands], super expensive [for streetwear]... I thought, ‘This is interesting,’” she says. Impressed, she decided to apply for an internship at BBC.
She wound up getting the internship in 2010 and, a year later, became a full-time employee. “When I was presented with the opportunity, I contemplated, ‘Do I take it? It’s not in my field.’” she says. “I was torn about it, but my gut said, ‘I like this brand. I want to see where it goes.’” At first, she managed customer service and e-commerce. But since then, she’s worked her way up the company, doing product development and special collaborations for the New York flagship (including projects with Takashi Murakami, Star Wars, A Tribe Called Quest, and more) as e-commerce and product development manager and, later, handling press releases, BBC’s social channels, newsletters, and photoshoots in her role as director of digital marketing.
“I don’t limit myself... I can do everything that men can do.” - mimi choi
Today, Choi is the brand partnerships director at BBC, overseeing many of its biggest projects, including its ComplexCon activations, collaborations with the likes of Timberland, and merch and experiential activations like the BBCICECREAM truck for Pharrell’s inaugural Something in the Water festival. She also helps to conceptualize and design product and packaging for Pharrell’s Adidas special seeding kits. “Within a small company, you have to wear a lot of hats,” she says. “Even if I wasn’t a PR person, I wrote pitches. I took pictures, did some styling. I did everything under the sun. You have to be able to evolve as the brand evolves.”
“I know everyone’s always looking for answers and planning how their lives should go, but no one really has all the answers, which is fine,” she adds. “You shouldn’t feel intimidated by that.”
When Choi started, the staff at the BBC office was small—there were only two other people on the team. There also weren’t any other women (BBC now has one other woman in a team of seven), and the female presence in streetwear in general was minimal. Still, she says she never saw being a woman as a disadvantage. “Women, in general, need more exposure,” she says. “But I have two older brothers, so it just felt like I was working with a bunch of brothers, and it’s comforting. I’ve never stepped back and said, ‘I’m the only girl here.’ I don’t limit myself. Sometimes there are things I can’t do and I’ll ask for help, but I can still lift a box. I can do everything that men can do.” —Karizza Sanchez