Karlie Kloss: “Every woman can do whatever she wants.”
Model and entrepreneur Karlie Kloss on catwalks, coding, achieving her goals and practically living on an airplane.
Former Victoria’s Secret Angel Karlie Kloss is widely considered to be the nicest model in the industry; we wholeheartedly agree – she always has a smile to offer, remembers a face and is as polite as they come. Despite being a hugely successful model, Karlie Kloss is now more likely to be found coding than walking the runway: Kode with Klossy is an innovative start-up that teaches girls and young women to code. Is there anything this woman can’t do? Here the Estée Lauder ambassador shares her expertise.
When did you know that you wanted to be a model?
Karlie Kloss: “I wouldn’t say that I really set out knowing that this would be my career. I was first discovered in a mall in St. Louis, Missouri and at that point I thought I was going to follow in my father’s footsteps to one day become Dr. Kloss. I was sure that was my life path, so even when I started my modelling career and started travelling the world and working, I really, for the first few years, thought of it more as an after-school hobby. It wasn’t until I graduated high school and moved to New York that I was like, ‘Alright, I’m doing this. I’m going to give my all.’”
What does it mean to you to be joining Estée Lauder as Global Brand Ambassador?
KK: “It’s a dream come true. It really is. My entire career, having a beauty contract has been at the top of my bucket list. From the very start, my list of career dreams always included cover of American Vogue and Estée Lauder beauty contract. When I was on an airplane commuting between my life as a high-school student in St. Louis and my parallel life as a fashion model in NYC, I would journal about my dreams. I have to find that journal that says, ‘Bucket list: Estée Lauder beauty contract.’ It’s surreal, and I’m really grateful and excited.”
What is your favourite thing about your job?
KK: “I’m a curious person, and I love learning about business and different industries and really getting to understand how things are made and how people see the world. I get to work with such creative people and be around so many people with unique life experiences. My favourite part is the access I have to really brilliant minds, whether it’s in fashion, or with photographers, or make-up artists, or on the business side. I love learning about how things are built. I recently met a chemical engineer who had worked with Estée Lauder on product development, and was so fascinated to learn about the science and art behind developing products.”
What is the hardest part of your job?
KK: “Because we live in such a global world, part of the glamour of it is all this travel, but it can be taxing to be living out of a suitcase all the time, so it’s kind of a double-edged sword.”
In the midst of all of that, you founded Kode With Klossy, which teaches girls how to code. What inspired you to learn in the first place?
KK: “I was always interested in math and science growing up and even though my career took me down a different path, that interest and curiosity stayed with me. As my career in fashion progressed, I started to see how technology was transforming my own industry. I took my first coding class because I wanted to understand how the technology that was changing not only my industry, but every industry, worked. After taking that class, I had this ‘a-ha’ moment. There’s no limit to what you can build with code and with access to the learning and incredible teachers, everyone can learn. I started Kode With Klossy in order to provide other young women with the same opportunity to learn to code and empower them with the skills needed to become the next generation of leaders in tech.”
Let’s talk about fashion and beauty in the tech space. Beauty can sometimes be seen as frivolous, while the impression is that tech is very serious. How do you merge the two worlds?
KK: “The two worlds have already merged – I actually think beauty and tech sit at this really unique intersection with so much power and opportunity to innovate and be creative. Throughout my own career, I’ve watched the increased emergence of fashion and tech, from the rise of ecommerce and wearable tech to 3D photoshoots. These two worlds will only become more intertwined, which will lead to many more changes and innovations in the industry in the coming years.
“I also want to say that beauty is not always about being frivolous or vain. Beauty and fashion allow for self-expression – they have the power to make you feel like your best self by inspiring confidence and individuality, and that should not be undervalued.”
Estée Lauder herself had this saying, “Every woman can be beautiful.” And it’s almost like you’re proving the tech equivalent of that with the idea that every woman can code.
KK: “Every woman can do whatever she wants! And feel beautiful in her own skin. You don’t have to be defined by just one thing, and that’s what’s so exciting about this world that we’re living in today. I think the next generation understands that they can be, do and create anything they dream of.”