Jetss Exclusive interview with Kathy Hilton, businesswoman, philanthropist and now dress designer

Interviewed by Camila Alves, JETSS

Kathy Hilton might best be known as the mother of socialites Paris and Nicky Hilton, but really she is much more than that. With a deep routed philanthropic spirit she inherited from her mother and grandmother she seems to always be seeking out the best in everyone and everything.

Hilton’s latest endeavor is that of fashion designer for the ‘Kathy Hilton Collection’ – – which launched in 2012 and sells in 28 Countries. A self-admitted “control freak”, Kathy is involved in every stich of her designs making dresses affordable for women in all price ranges, sizes and ages.

Camila Alves from JETSS, was honored to speak candidly with Kathy who was extremely delightful, down-to-earth, sensitive and proud of her family’s hard-earned accomplishments. Open about her frustration and pain regarding critical attacks on her children, she states, “I would rather somebody say something about me than my children, it’s just so hurtful. “ With all that Hilton has acquired thru her many ventures she and husband Rick married almost 35 years both long deeply and patiently to be grandparents. That will undoubtedly be Hilton’s most fulfilling venture.

Camila Alves, JETSSWhat inspires you and which fashion designers were you inspired by for your collection? Kathy Hilton: I’m not a “trendy” person so I can be inspired by an unknown vintage designer.  I really enjoy buying vintage designs and then redo them.  Even before I got into this business I found a lot of my inspiration from a museum looking at a 17th century painting, admiring the lace on a dress in a portrait or walking through a park with a beautiful garden and seeing all the colors. When I get inspired I try to scribble it myself. As far as designers I love Ralph Lauren especially his beautiful Jersey dresses; and I also love Oscar de la Renta.

Camila Alves, JETSS | Can you talk a little bit about your current collection? KH: My collection pays a lot of attention to detail and it doesn’t break the bank. Originally I just wanted to do something for my nieces when this was offered to me. The CEO and owner of Mon Cheri Steve Lang asked if I wanted to do a line of dresses. We’d seen each other for years at couture shows in Paris, Milan and New York. When he asked, I said I would only do it if I had control over everything because I am a “control freak”.  Although I’ve been fortunate to wear beautiful clothes I don’t think the world is at a time where people can spend lots of money on clothes and I wanted mothers, daughters and grandmothers to be able to shop together.  I’ve got items for the ages of 15 to 70.

Camila Alves, JETSS | Do you plan on opening a “Kathy Hilton” store or do you plan to continue primarily distributing thru on-line and department stores? KH: You have to crawl before you walk but one day would be great to have my own stores.  Currently we’re in 28 countries which is very exciting.

Camila Alves, JETSS | Since both your daughters are such fashion icons did they collaborate with you on the process of creating your collections? KH: They are busy with their own brands and have a lot going on. When we get together for  family time together we don’t really like to talk business we stay focused on the family. However, if I’m going through my little sketch book or looking at different fabrics and they happen to walk in the room I’ll ask for their opinion.

Camila Alves, JETSS | What image comes to mind when you hear of or think of Brazil, pros or cons? KL: I have never been to Brazil, but Paris and Nicky have and they absolutely love it!  I believe we are going in the next several months. When I think of Brazil I think of beautiful beaches, beautiful people, happy people enjoying life and all around good energy, I can’t wait.

Camila Alves, JETSS | Paris has become a respected DJ within the music industry and seems very happy. Are you surprised with how she keeps re-inventing herself and did she get this curiosity of life from you? KL: Paris has always loved music and has been part of the club scene for a while so I think it’s something that comes naturally to her. For the last 3 years she has been in the studio. Until recently I’d never seen her DJ, she was GREAT! Paris is a very nice person, very sweet and approachable and I’m thrilled she’s enjoying herself.

Camila Alves, JETSS | You’ve had a very long and successful marriage what’s the secret behind it? What advice would you give our single female readers about selecting a life partner? KH: I was 15 when I met Rick, he was 19 and we were married 4 years later, obviously we’ve grown up together. I think we just really enjoy doing things together. We bought our first dining room table together and I would never think to buy a sofa or a chair without him.My husband is self-made, a lot of people presume that we inherited everything because of his last name and that’s simply not true we’ve always worked hard. It’s important to be appreciative, spend time together and have the right influences around you. You have to be very careful with whom you share your time and not take your partner for granted. My parents divorced when I was little and I was ashamed of that, it hurt me very much and I never wanted my children to go through anything like that.  I feel it’s better to wait and find the right person than to have the wrong baggage. It’s important not to be so available and make it too easy for the men.  These day’s women just throw themselves at men and at the end of the day men are a lot more traditional than we think. Being a lady never goes out of style.

Camila Alves, JETSS | Do you look forward to becoming a grandmother? KH: I absolutely look forward to that time but I don’t like to push my children. Rick and I were very blessed we met young and were able to start our family and be young enough and have the necessary energy to enjoy them. I don’t say anything to my children because I don’t want them to feel like their clock is running out but down deep I am aching for it. I hope one day to have a little nursery in my home. Rick and I look forward to that; we will be great babysitters.

Camila Alves, JETSSAs a mother, how do you maintain your calm and/or anger when you hear incorrect or negative remarks about your children? KH: Of course it’s painful and I would rather somebody say something about me than my children, it’s just so hurtful especially when there’s nothing you can do about it. I’ve always taught my children to turn the other cheek; hold their heads high and don’t let those things bother them but of course it does bother them. With the internet everybody’s free to hide behind a computer and say whatever mean thing they want. It’s such bad karma and we have to pray for those people. My grandmother would always say “charity of the tongue, if you don’t have anything nice to say, keep it to yourself”.

Camila Alves, JETSS | Since Hilton was founded in 1919 The Hilton Brand has maintained a well-known respected reputation world-wide with consistent profits, what are the values and practices you believe contributed to its longevity? KH: Hard work; honesty, giving back and having people trust they are going to get the best hotel experience for their money. It’s all about great service and the customer is always right. That’s goes for any business really.

Camila Alves, JETSS| Best advice you were ever given? KH: My mother said this and so did my father-in-law but in different ways, they said “Those the gods destroy they first make proud”, in other words, be grateful because the rug can be pulled out from under you and you’re left on your butt. Sometimes you see people that venture into a little success and they get awful, greedy, rude and thoughtless. Some celebrities complain about the paparazzi and the fans which is the very thing that they wanted to make them famous. I see that a lot in this business. When I see somebody wearing one of my dresses it’s such a high. I am so grateful and it’s fun for me to go up to them. I love it; it makes you feel good that somebody liked what you created. My mother told me to be grateful, gracious, thank God for my blessings, give back, be kind and be thoughtful. She would always talk about karma and to stop and smell the roses, to not always be looking for tomorrow and to enjoy living in the moment.  Right now, today, the birds are singing, the sun is shining and I’m speaking with Jetss.

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