Alumna shares success story

Angela L. Gorter and Angela L. Gorter

Known as “The Queen of the Red Carpet,” Katherine Baumann has been creating wearable pieces of art for the last 15 years. Recognized as an haute couture designer, the Bowling Green alumna and Ohio native has made a name for herself within the celebrity fashion world.

“Haute couture is the highest level of design, it doesn’t come across Bowling Green often,” Diane Frey, associate professor of family and consumer sciences said.

Sponsored by the school of Family and Consumer Sciences, Baumann presented her secrets to success and advice for designing to the stars last Friday, to an audience of Apparel Merchandising and Product Management (AMPD) students and faculty.

“Katherine Baumann is a unique combination of creative artist and entrepreneur,” Jean Hines, associate professor of family and consumer sciences said. “She has transformed many a popular American icon into fashion statements in the form of jewelry and wearable art.”

Baumann has also been toted as one of the premier woman in the entrepreneurial profession.

“[We] like to have role models to allow students to have different learning experiences, support curriculum and promote networking,” Frey said.

Years after rising to the top of her industry, Baumann’s accessories have added up to a $2.4 million business. Her most sought after item, the minaudiere, a small Swarovski-crystal handbag, has gained her countless notoriety.

However, she credits her success to one thing — thinking big.

“When you have a big dream and you reach for a star, if you don’t come up with that star in your hand, you’ll have to come up with a handful of stardust. And that’s much (further) ahead than you ever would have been, if you never had that dream to begin with,” Baumann said.

Coming off of a 15-year stint in Hollywood that ended after an accident on set, Baumann began from square one to create Katherine Baumann Beverly Hills.

“I started off with a $133 unemployment check,” she noted.

Throughout her presentation, she told of the hardships of being an American entrepreneur.

“It’s not a nine-fiver,” she said. “You don’t put your left foot in front of your right foot; you learn to do somersaults on that balance beam.”

She added that as part of an industry that makes up 90 percent of the economy, American entrepreneurs are the backbone of small businesses.

In fashion, it is difficult to be noticed. Setting goals, differentiating between the competitors and being passionate about your craft are keys to becoming a success player in the business world, she said. “An entrepreneur is someone who takes a risk.”

In her attempt to create her own identity, Baumann envisioned a fashion line that would bring out the child in her customers, and make them feel young again.

“‘Minnie Mouse, Oh my God Minnie Mouse, she’ll make me different,'” she said one night while lying in bed, “‘she’ll make people smile, then I’ll be different … .'”

In addition to Disney characters, Baumann has obtained licensing agreements from companies such as Coca-Cola, Warner Bros., the NBA and both political parties to create a line of accessories that are name-brand conscious and personalized.

However, her most famous bag, is the Titanic, which she made within a five-week period for “Rose” for the Academy Awards. Since then, the bag has received such acclaim that it has been featured on television over 528 times.

Through her success, she reflects on what she had accomplished before becoming Katherine Baumann Beverly Hills. Though, she never dreamed that this is what she would become.

“I was always fascinated with crystals. I used to sit in my grandmother’s home and watch the sun come in and reflect off of the little crystals she had hanging in her window. I never dreamed that someday I would be a fashion designer.”

At the end of her presentation, Baumann allowed those present to take a look at her minaudieres and get a close-up look of her hard work.

As the students “oohed and ahhed” over her designs, Baumann’s message of beating the odds in the tough business world was not lost.

“She was inspiring,” Jennifer Vissing, an AMPD major said.

The different approaches to the merchandising world were a major point that she took away. “Instead of working for someone, you can work for yourself,” Vissing said, “that’s important.”