Have you ever watched a TV show or a movie and thought about how everyone on TV looks so perfect and how can you get the look? In the summer of 2014, I found out just what it took to be a part of the wardrobe department on a few feature films. I worked on a Lifetime movie called Santa Con. My boss and California native Kim Engelman was an amazing mentor and super fun to be around. She taught me something new everyday. She didn’t give up on me even though I could usually be found tangled in a slew of hangers that I accidentally smacked in the face of an actor or two repeatedly. They were plastic! #NoMoreWireHangersEver
When I had the opportunity to walk with her to work one morning she mentioned motherhood, and how she doesn’t understand how people have multiple children. She said that she only has one and she can barely stand it. She had mentioned her son Charlie the day before and spoke of him fondly. However, after the walk to work I just knew that I had to get her take on life, business, and motherhood and share it with the world. Or at least the 7 people who read my blog.
NEIMANS, AND BARNEYS, AND LARGE YELLOW BOWS OH MY…
ERIN K. MOFFAT: Let’s start at the beginning. How did you get your start/get into the industry?
KIM ENGELMAN: Well, when I was 16 I had no idea what I was going to do, and I was in my psychology class with Mr. Victorson, Mr. Vic as we called him. He had me stay after class one day and he told me that all of my talking and all of my shopping was not going to get me anywhere in life. That I really needed to buckle down and find out what I was going to do. So, I was like “okay I’ve gotta figure this out!” I was watching Who’s the Boss and Judith Light was wearing a yellow blouse, with a yellow pair of pants with a beautiful satin sash and in the back was this gigantic bow. I was like that’s what I want to do I want to tie that bow. I had no idea what it was, and I didn’t know a job like costume designer or stylist or anything like that existed. I wanted to do the bow!
EKM: So how did you end up doing the bow tying?
KE: My Dad is a make up artist and he said ‘graduate from college and I’ll help you out.’ I went to college and after I graduated he got me in contact with a good friend of his named Tom Bronson. He was the head of the wardrobe department at the Disney. He interviewed me and told me about the business. I was like okay, that’s what I want to do and he said well I really don’t have room for you but you know get back to me whenever you can.
EKM: You did end up working there?
KE: Correct. My interview was in December 1989 and I called him every day for one year asking him if he had any openings yet and finally on December 10, 1990 I called and he said ‘Hello Kim!’ and I said ‘Hey, I just wanted to see if you have an opening for me?’ and he goes ‘I do!’ I thought that he was kidding because it had been a year, and he didn’t want me calling anymore. I made $10.42 an hour and I got paid every Thursday so guess what?
KE: Rich, rich lady right here! That’s how I got my start.
EKM: Now that’s perseverance. How long did you do that?
KE: I promised a year and ended up staying for 4 years because I loved it so much. I learned so much, and they had all different types of period clothes. Then it was time for me to go, it was time for me to move on. That’s the start of my career. AMAZING!!
EKM: What’s your official title usually?
KE: Costumer or shopper, and I love/prefer to be a shopper.
EKM: What’s your favorite place to shop?
KE: Neiman Marcus Beverly Hills, and I also like Barney’s.
EKM: What do you like most about them?
KE: They’ve got everything I need. Like classy clothes for the older ladies, and they’ve got cool clothes. They also have the best shoe department. I just like their array of brands. I love Barney’s, but that’s more one particular style. You can’t shop all of your girls’ or your boys’ at Barney’s. It’s too specific. Neiman’s no matter what age or style you can always find it at Neiman’s. They’re super nice to me and I get free lunch!
EKM: If you couldn’t do this what would you do?
KE: Nothing! There is nothing, nothing but shopping!! Or, you know what? I’d be the person who names the Behr paint colors and I’d have specific lines. Like the Newlywed, Divorcee, or something for one month that gives proceeds to charity but things that catered to women.
IN LOVE WITH OSCAR
EKM: What was your favorite job thus far?
KE: Working The Oscars and it was the best day of my entire life, it was better than my wedding, and the day that my child was born. Yup! The next year they called and asked me to do it again. First and Second best days of my life 3rd and 4th would be my child and my husband. It’s just honesty it’s just all that is. Right? The best thing in the world and they paid me for it which was crazy because I would’ve done it for free. I got a paycheck for it.
EKM: What’s the most exciting thing about your job?
KE: Me! (Laughter) The exciting thing about my job is that not every day is the same thing, I get to travel a lot and every day is a little bit different. Even if it’s the same type of work it’s different because my jobs change so much. So, I never really feel like I’m in a rut. I go from one job to the next, to the next…I try to be happy and have a good time and I don’t take it too serious anymore which is good I’m not saving anyone’s life I just make them look cute. Cute as a button!
EKM: Everyone on TV looks perfect and the outfits are amazing. How can a gal on a budget get “the look!”?
KE: Find a store that is works within your budget, then and work it. There is a lot of fantastic stuff out there.
EKM: How would you describe your own person style?
KE: Well I have 3
- Work look: Heels, black clothes, and my jewels.
- Home: More like cut off jeans, Rag and Bone tank, and simple jewelry.
- Dress Up: I have different looks sweet, and naughty or bad ass.
I always have to have a scarf! Even when I was in Hawaii I had a scarf on. Lying in bed watching TV have a scarf on.
EKM: What advice would you give someone looking to follow in your footsteps?
KE: Don’t be sensitive!
EKM: Well I’ve failed! I’ve failed at this!
KE: Don’t be sensitive!!
EKM: Got it!
KE: Be able to do a lot of listening, half of my job is psychological listening, talking it out, playing psychiatrist. Very little has to do actually with the clothes.
IN DA HOOD: MOTHERHOOD AND MOTHERNOTSOGOOD
EKM: Lets talk motherhood! Tell me about the time that you gave all of Charlie’s toys away to Goodwill.
KE: So I think Charlie was like 4 and I feel really bad because I have no recollection of what he actually did that was so bad, but I think that I had had it. I was over the toys, I was over him not listening and I asked him to either pick up his toys or put something away and he wasn’t listening and he wasn’t doing it, so I gave him a warning if you don’t pick up your toys or whatever it was that I was going to put them all in a trash bag and give them to goodwill.
EKM: and you did it?
KE: I had to do it! So they all went into a trash bag everything imaginable picked it up put it in the back of my husband’s car and off it went. We stood in the driveway and for a minute I thought ‘I hope that my husband just goes around the block,’ but he didn’t, and he didn’t come back. We still remember that because there are pictures of certain toys, and Charlie will be like ‘Hey, Mama do you remember…oh…did that go…’ and I’m like ‘Yup that went to the Goodwill.’ But he remembered it and he’s such a good listener. Super, super good listener! Excellent. Follows all commands.
EKM: You told me to remind you to tell me what happened last Halloween…
KE: Is it bad that I don’t remember what the bad thing was, but that I just remember what the consequence was?
EKM: No, I don’t think so.
KE: Last Halloween he did something naughty. I think that he lied he got caught in a lie so his consequence was that he couldn’t dress up for Halloween at school or on Halloween night. Now he won’t put on a funny hat or sunglasses or dress up or anything not even for Spirit Week he won’t dress up like a cowboy he’s like ‘Nope I’ll never dress up!’
EKM: Is he stubborn?
KE: He’s an Aquarius!
EKM: What does that mean?
KE: Yes, he’s stubborn.
EKM: What’s your biggest struggle as a mom?
KE: My biggest struggle as a Mom is patience I’m not patient, and homework I don’t know it. I don’t know how to do word problems and I’m not good at Science projects and I’m not good at catch the leprechaun.
EKM: Kids’ homework is really confusing.
KE: It’s the hardest!
EKM: I babysit and it’s like what you can wait until your Mom comes home…
KE: I was like Charlie you need a tutor for this I’m too busy I’m at Neiman’s.
SPEAKING THE TRUTH
EKM: Do you love being a Mom?
EKM: How do you spell Mmm?
KE: I’m starting to! It’s starting to be really great. I’m starting to love it. He’s 9, but 1 through 7 not so great. It wasn’t so fun! I’m not the big baby person and I was like “God, if I could have a kid that was like born at 6 years old that would be perfect.” Then 6 wasn’t so great, and 7 wasn’t so great. Then 8 started to come around and 9 is really awesome. I’m really digging 9, but do I love being a Mom? Probably not! Do I love my child? Of course I love my child but I’m not like ‘WOW this is amazing. I’ve really become a complete person from this? Every person on earth should be a mom!’ No, probably not I don’t think so! It didn’t complete me. It doesn’t mean that I don’t love him. I love him. I was just pretty fine before.
EKM: How did that affect you?
KE: Probably wrecked me a little bit it didn’t do well for my marriage the first couple years. That was a little rough. A little shaky! I don’t see how people say having a baby saves a marriage. Nope! I could see how you could have a baby to ruin your marriage! That would be good like if you want to get a divorce you should have babies. Seriously, because they’ll just f*ck you up. Especially, about two that’s just really charming. That’s it, if you wanna break up your marriage… have a baby! At least that was my experience.
I GOT A BOY!!!
EKM: Did you always want to be a Mom?
KE: No, I never wanted children. I told my husband I’m not going to have children and then I think that I had been married for like 4 years and my grandma was “you should have children,” and then my husband wanted one and I think that he wanted 8 at least. And then so I was like ‘we’ll give it a try’ and then I didn’t get pregnant and I’m like Whhhhat? What do you mean? Oh, you might have to go on fertility, and then it was a challenge and I was like “I’m going to have myself a baby!”
EKM: There’s that perseverance again.
EKM: How long after that did it take?
KE: A year of all that, and I got a baby and I was like: “Oh my god I’m finally going to have a baby.” Then they said that I was going to have a boy and I said ‘that’s not possible, my family doesn’t have boys, we have girls. What am I going to do with a boy? I need to wear fairy wings, I want to have tea parties, and I have a Barbie collection that I can hand off.”
KE: I got a boy!!
EKM: You got a boy!!
KE: But thank god, because I don’t want a girl I don’t want the hair clips, I don’t want the frilly socks, I’m a boy Mom. I didn’t know that I was a boy Mom. I was terrified! Now, Charlie and his Dad can go to the games and I’m just home for the lovin.’ I just do the lovin’s part! I don’t have to buy him glitter cupcake shirts, or Kiss Me, I’m better than Cinderella. None of those awful shirts! I don’t have to buy those!
EKM: How do you handle motherhood and being a working mother?
KE: I’m so involved with work and I do try to come home and do a little bit of homework, but I feel like during the week I have a hard time balancing that. I always try to make it a point of always being home on the weekends. When Charlie was about 2 ½ I decided that we needed to make sure that we sat down for dinner at night and that he had cooked meals and real food and I tried to instill that. Even if I worked at night I’ve always tried to make sure that he sits down with either me or Ron or the Nanny…and always on weekends we have meals at the table.
EKM: I think that meals at the table together are important, and that’s really great.
KE: Yes, and I try to make up for working so hard during the week on the weekends. If he’s out of school one day I’ll try to be off that day. That’s how I try to balance it. I give him everything on the weekends.
QUEEN OF THE PRIDE: ONLY YOUR CHILD WRITES NOTES…
EKM: What’s your proudest mommy moment?
KE: I think that it just happened. We are staying at a friends’ house, so I told him that I he didn’t have to take a bath, because I was going to be out late working. When I got home he had written me a note, and it was okay, that he had taken a bath and I could smell his hair, and I was so proud of him,and that he had taken the bath by himself ,because I do baby him a little bit, but then he wrote me a note to let me know. I think that it was the first note that I had ever gotten from him that wasn’t encouraged by an adult to be written. I love that he thought ‘I’m going to write my mom a note’ I felt like wow I’m raising a good thoughtful child. I do tell him to write thank you notes, and writing notes to his grandparents because that’s special to people. Of course I have proud moments with sports, and the way that he treats his grandparents, but kids just don’t write notes…
EKM: My niece does sometimes.
KE: Well, don’t take it away from me…go with it okay.
EKM: Okay, kids don’t write notes EVER…
KE: Only my child!
EKM: Only your child writes notes!
AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT
EKM: How have you changed by being a parent?
KE: How I have changed? How I’ve changed, is that I’m less tolerant of other people. I don’t have time for that! I think that I have less patience for other people so I have more patience for him.
That’s how I’ve changed. I think that maybe I’m a little bit more aware of my child and things that I wanted as a child, and now I’m making sure that those things are taken care of in his childhood feeling secure and loved.
Just little insecurities not saying that my parent’s didn’t, but just making sure that he’s happy, that he feels confident, and that everything is good.
BRIDGET JONES’ DIARY
EKM: Any other funny mom moments?
KE: Oh, I have a million! I have so many! Everyone has child stories and thinks that their child is so funny and of course I think my child is way funnier that that. It’s not funny to somebody else.
KE: My friend Bridget Jones…
EKM: Does she have a diary?
KE: She does, and that’s her real name…and she always asks what’s a new Charlie-ism cause he always has these little things that he does, but she doesn’t have kids so maybe that’s why she thinks it’s so cute. As where other Moms would be like ‘yea my kid can do that too.’ That’s what I feel about Facebook everyone is posting how smart kids their kids are…it’s not real.
EKM: What has Charlie taught you?
KE: Charlie has taught me…I don’t know! Has he taught me anything? Maybe, not yet! I’m waiting, it’s coming. And that’s honest…
EKM: How would you define your parenting style?
KE: I started out super strict because I thought that if I started out strict when he was younger I wouldn’t have to be as strict as he got older. That’s my philosophy!
EKM: He is a very good boy!
KE: He is, and now I’m easing up a little bit. Because I can talk to him about it we can discuss it why he can’t do this or why it’s wrong. I would say really strict, but yet it’s my own eclectic way of doing it. Sometimes, when I think that I’ve not been all that strict I see other kids his age see act up much more than I would allow my child, and then I thought I do realize that I’m a lot more strict then I thought. Even my sister said that he’s such a good boy you should relax and chill out. I will just not yet! I know those teenager years are coming up, I want to plant it in his head that there isn’t a lot of tolerance for nonsense. I may be strict, but I’m also super fun. Crazy fun! Kookie fun!
EKM: Wherein lies the balancing act!
EKM: Favorite kid vacation?
KE: Costa Rica with my family. We rented a house. Charlie got to be with his cousins. He travels very well. He gets excited. Christmas we went to Hawaii and he loved it, and he loved Pearl Harbor because he’s into that whole thing.
Much thanks to Kim for the awesome time! Check out Part II where I ask her a bunch of questions…