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Chachi Prasad and Karam Kim of BlueCut LA: “Patience/determination”

Karam — Hard work Hard work is a value that both Chachi and I have adopted from our parents and is deeply rooted in our approach to our business. Patience/determination Achieving success is like planting a seed. It takes time to see the results but patience, coupled with determination, will help you reach a fruitful endpoint. Is the […]

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Karam — Hard work

Hard work is a value that both Chachi and I have adopted from our parents and is deeply rooted in our approach to our business.

Patience/determination

Achieving success is like planting a seed. It takes time to see the results but patience, coupled with determination, will help you reach a fruitful endpoint.


Is the American Dream still alive? If you speak to many of the immigrants we spoke to, who came to this country with nothing but grit, resilience, and a dream, they will tell you that it certainly is still alive.

As a part of our series about immigrant success stories, I had the pleasure of interviewing Chachi Prasad and Karam Kim.

BlueCut is the premium designer line of aprons, chef gear, and bespoke uniforms for the country’s brightest culinary talent. Based in Los Angeles, founders and designers, Chachi Prasad and Karam Kim, are a husband-and-wife team with over two decades of experience in design and manufacturing for high-end designer brands including Calvin Klein, John Varvatos, Yigal Azrouel, and Oscar-by-Oscar de La Renta.

Karam grew up in Seoul, South Korea, and at the age of 21, decided to withdraw from college and move to New York City to pursue her dream of becoming a fashion designer. Here, Karam built a career and found love, which would overlap into creating her first of many successful fashion brands with her husband, Chachi, who immigrated from Bihar, India as a child. Chachi shared Karam’s passion for design, straying from his family’s career expectations to become a designer, and together have humbly made a name for themselves in both the fashion and culinary world. Karam and Chachi created BlueCut in 2014 after being commissioned by some of LA’s brightest culinary talent to bring the sensitivities of streetwear fashion to designing aprons and uniforms that reflected the style and personality of creative types in the kitchen. Their clientele includes everyone from celebrity chefs Roy Choi to Nyesha Arrington to local icons like the team behind Bestia, Bavel, and Republique.

While BlueCut’s craft is undoubtedly outstanding, it’s the work they do for the restaurant industry that is truly impactful. When it comes to affordable well-made workwear, Karam and Chachi recognize a deep need in the hospitality industry. Addressing restaurants’ financial impact from the pandemic and acknowledging systemic inequality across the nation, they hope to bridge the gap through a series of initiatives aimed to make high-quality chef gear accessible to everyone. In 2020, BlueCut launched Planting Change, which brings hundreds of aprons to Black-owned restaurants in need across the nation, while simultaneously bringing awareness and honor to the contributions of Black Americans in food and farming. The initiative earned national recognition in The New York Times, Washington Post, Eater, and beyond. Karam also designed custom aprons for the Regarding Her Food event with 100% of proceeds benefiting their mission to empower female restaurateurs. In 2021, the team is spearheading a line of affordable aprons to aid restaurants in reopening with a percentage of proceeds of all apron sales benefiting Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation to provide financial assistance to unemployed hospitality workers.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Chachi Prasad

I was born in the state of Bihar in India and moved to the U.S. when I was seven. I grew up in Westchester County, which is 30 minutes North of New York City. I now consider Los Angeles my home since relocating in 2006. This idea of having more than one home or at least roots in multiple places plays on my mind a lot. My parents have now been in one place, New York, for 50 years which is a shocker for me, but they still consider India as a second home.

In New York, I had a mixture of friends, but I grew up with mainly families of Italian descent. My best friends were second generation Italians and some of them had families here as third and fourth generations. Although our heritage was different, shared many common bonds. Family was number one on the list.

As an immigrant in America, I’m grateful for my exposure to people from different backgrounds and walks of life. It’s given me the ability to adapt to different environments and has made me more open-minded to different people and places. As an Indian America, I learned how to assimilate to fit in from a very young age. I learned how to take on the qualities and attributes of whomever I was with and where I was. While I do have a particular sense of self and personality, I enjoy connecting with people across a broad spectrum.

It was challenging to grow up with Indian parents and to assimilate with American children who had a lot more freedom in their lifestyle choices, behaviors, and attitudes. There are high expectations for Indian children in terms of responsibility to your family, siblings, and studies. You can’t just step away from responsibilities — there’s familial, cultural, and spiritual obligations. While it took me a while to gain my independence and freedom, I respect my parents’ intentions for keeping us on track to earn a future that was worth their sacrifice. As I grew older, I also started to lean into my parents’ spiritual practices, and appreciate their value today, more than ever.

While my parents would have never imagined their son to work in the design industry, they are proud of my accomplishments today. After receiving my Bachelor’s in Business, I promised my parents to study for an MBA at New York University. Those plans never came to fruition as I chose to attend FIT under my own device, without their knowledge. Ironically, it’s my father’s value for a custom fit is a large part of BlueCut’s brand ethos. My father always had his clothes tailored and specific shoes made in India. Even chefs can have a fitted look in the kitchen, from aprons to workwear.

Karam Kim

I was born and raised in Seoul, Korea. I was raised in a traditional conservative family where hard work was extremely valued. As a child, I loved art and fashion and enjoyed the American Vogue magazines my mother bought from the U.S. Army base shop through a friend, a feat back in the 80s. I decided to major in Fashion Design in college in Korea, but my ultimate goal was to go to New York City to study fashion design where all the top designers and fashion houses were based. I spent hours at the bookstore reading the biographies of top New York designers, like Donna Karen and Calvin Klein, uncovering their path to success. At the age of 21, I withdrew from college in Korea and moved to New York City to pursue my dream of becoming a fashion designer.

I graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a bachelor’s degree in Fashion Design and an associate degree in Fashion Merchandising and Marketing. My first job was at Yigal Azrouel where I met Chachi on a blind date. We both shared a love for fashion and wanted to create our own brand. We decided to start a small line of silk tops and from there, I became a business owner at age 25 and went on to create successful brands like, Bishop of Seventh and Bishop.

Today, we both bring our fashion background to the forefront of designing BlueCut’s aprons, chef gear, and bespoke uniforms in Los Angeles.

Was there a particular trigger point that made you emigrate to the US? Can you tell us the story?

Chachi

Like many immigrants, my parents moved my brother and I to the U.S. for our future. They wanted us to have every opportunity to become successful and believed in America’s school systems.

Karam

I came by myself at the age of 21 to US to study Fashion Design at Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. In the 90s, the Korean educational system was extremely competitive for higher studies. My high school routine was dominated by studying all hours of the day, from the morning till 1 a.m. at night. Attending one of the few prestigious colleges in Korea defined you as a person in society. While I was accepted to one of my top three choices, I spent the first year of college focused on getting into FIT to pursue my dream of fashion design. Luckily, my family was supportive of my decision to withdraw from school in Korean to pursue my passion in America.

Can you tell us the story of how you came to the USA? What was that experience like?

Chachi

My mom came first in 1972 and my father followed after. My father returned to India to bring us to America. We arrived in Los Angeles first then drove cross-country to New York. It was a wild adventure for a seven-year-old to drive through the various cities and states, taking in the grandeur sights of the Grand Canyon to the character of each little town, along the way.

Karam

I came here to study at Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. I felt like a free bird when I first came to the city. I loved everything about the city. I still remember the first time I explored the streets, which were crowded with honking cars and people in the stores hustling. I was filled with the excitement, joy, and liveliness of the city.

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped make the move more manageable? Can you share a story?

Chachi

I am forever grateful to my mother. Without her initiative or sacrifice, I would not be where I am today. She came to the U.S. by herself first, while my dad was working in Germany as an engineer and while my brother and I stayed in India. She built a warm and welcoming home for us before we migrated.

Karam

My parents’ support was instrumental in having the courage and confidence to pursue my passion in fashion and design. My mother came to New York to help me get settled at FIT. I still remember the look on her face at the airport as we said goodbye. She was in tears and while I couldn’t understand her sadness at the time, I now understand that she knew I would not return to live in Korea. My father, a man of integrity and respect, supported my decision to leave home despite the IMF crisis in 1998. He supported me financially as I studied, despite the financial difficulties that many Korean families faced.

So how are things going today?

Chachi

We are thrilled to see the success of BlueCut, with a growing roster of worldwide recognized culinary talent, and are grateful our business has sustained the pandemic through hard work, creativity, and adaptability. While the pandemic was a challenging year for us, it has also allowed us more time to spend with our 5-year-old daughter, who is our pride and joy. We are spending more time in sharing our Indian and Korean cultures with her, so she has a deeper understanding of her heritage and what it means to be American today. In addition to running BlueCut and expanding our line of products, I have started a tech company which utilizes blockchain with sensors we developed for assets. This is an extremely exciting and scary time for me and I am ready to embrace this new adventure!

Karam

Our work and home lifestyles have changed dramatically during the pandemic. As a mother of a five-year old and business owner, I am constantly juggling growing our business with nurturing our child. I’m constantly strategizing for our company’s direction, products, and future, while ensuring my child receives the love, attention, and care she needs to flourish at her age. Sometimes, 24-hours does not feel nearly enough to cover all the bases, but I’m determined to remain a role model for my daughter. She can be a mother, wife, and a successful entrepreneur all at the same time. It’s been wonderful to use this past year (2020) for change and aid, through our Planting Change initiative, and other charitable efforts.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Chachi

I do not rely on my success to bring goodness into the world. My wife and I have always given back to our community and have helped people and businesses that could not help themselves first. For example, rather than marking surplus product on sale, we donate those products to Trosa, a licensed treatment facility helping individuals with substance use disorders become healthy, productive members of their communities and families.

Karam

Despite 2020 being a challenging year for both the restaurant and garment industry, we launched Planting Change, an initiative bringing awareness and honor to Black Americans in food and farming nationwide. We commissioned a talented young Black female artist to design a piece of artwork that will live on aprons and face masks, with the sales of each supporting Black-owned restaurants in need and BIPOC farmers. This year, we’re launching an expanded “Essentials Line” with affordable aprons and workwear to help restaurants return to work with well-made gear. We’ll also be donating 5% of those profits to The Restaurant Workers Community Foundation, which places funds into the hands of unemployed restaurant workers due to COVID19.

You have firsthand experience with the US immigration system. If you had the power, which three things would you suggest to improve the system?

Chachi

I would recommend hiring officials who can improve oversight, checks, and balances. Our decision-makers needs to be fair in accommodating those who have no place else to go when they are escaping from harmful, violent, and destructive environments.

Karam

The immigration process is incredibly expensive, which makes it challenging for even the most hardworking and talented individuals to gain legal status if they do not have the financial means. Additionally, it’s difficult for foreigners to start their own business without an investment visa, which requires a substantial amount of funds. It feels like a missed opportunity for the country to welcome and nurture talent that will lead to economic growth.

In my personal experience, I’ve spent a lot of money on lawyers each time I changed my visa status. I hope our government works towards a program that provide lower income individuals with the opportunity to become a citizen without such a significant financial burden.

Can you share “5 keys to achieving the American dream” that others can learn from you? Please share a story or example for each.

Chachi

Work ethic, sacrifice, openness to learn, gratitude, and commitment. Growing BlueCut required each of these elements. Our work ethic constantly allows us to innovate, strategize, and grow, while every business require sacrifice throughout the process. We don’t view failure negatively, rather, we see it as an opportunity to learn. We’re always grateful for each step in our career, especially during the pandemic, when many businesses like ours and those we service shuttered. We are committed to our passion, our craft, and our mission. BlueCut serves the industry, but also those less fortunate.

Karam

Hard work

Hard work is a value that both Chachi and I have adopted from our parents and is deeply rooted in our approach to our business.

Patience/determination

Achieving success is like planting a seed. It takes time to see the results but patience, coupled with determination, will help you reach a fruitful endpoint.

Passion

Passion offers a sense of resilience and pride in the work that you do each day. Passion fuels our creativity and our unwavering commitment to innovate and grow.

Creativity

Creativity is to key to any business. You have to think differently to stay competitive. We constantly ask ourselves how we differentiate from others in our products, our brand, and our mission.

Learn from your experience

There is so much to learn from your experiences. It’s never easy to accept failure, but it is the best learning experience.

We know that the US needs improvement. But are there 3 things that make you optimistic about the US’s future?

Chachi

I’m optimistic about the potential our children have to shape the future; the empathetic and generous nature of some of our business leaders, and the young politicians that strive for change.

Karam

I’m proud of our democracy, the melting pot of immigrants, and people’s voice in striving for systemic change.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Chachi

President Barack Obama, because I always felt there was a special quality about him. It’s something you feel deep within. He has the ability to bring people together and be a rock for those who need a foundation to stand on.

Karam

Dalai Lama. I was always interested in his teachings and will be interested to hear them from him.

What is the best way our readers can further follow your work online?

https://www.bluecutla.com

@bluecutla

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


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