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Karen Kim

Karen Kim is the founder of Binu Binu, a Toronto-based brand of modern soaps inspired by the ritual of the Korean public bath, a place free of vanity and inhibition and where generations are brought together in the simple act of cleansing. On our Journal we catch up with Karen about her affinity for stone palettes and the place where she finds tranquil solitude.
Shaina Mote — Karen Kim
Photo by Vera Mishurina

Can you share more details on one act of “wellness” that brings you joy in its ritual — maybe a special tea, or a favorite walk, or another ritual that you use to come back to yourself?

I've recently created a retreat on the third floor of my house, that's only for me. It's my "room of one's own" and I love it. It's pretty sparsely furnished, with a little desk, a vintage Hans Wegner rocking chair with rush seating, a yoga mat and cushion. I'll open up the skylight and sneak 15 minutes of quiet time, doing breathing exercises to reset. Sometimes I listen to the birds and watch the clouds, and sometimes I fall asleep while meditating because I fall asleep easily and am also sleep-deprived most days. Although with work I make my own schedule, my day usually starts when the sun rises (which these days is around 5:40AM!) when my two kids wake up and unleash their boundless 2 and 5-year old energy on me. So I guess my retreat is basically where I take naps, which to me is an act of wellness.



Photo by Lloyd Stevie with styling by Lauren ShoosterPhoto by Lloyd Stevie, with styling by Lauren Shooster



Photo courtesy of Binu Binu




What shapes, textures, and palettes encompass the sensory details of your present self?

I'm into stone palettes these days. I love how stones can appear powdery and dense, or glossy and translucent and shimmery. Last year, we started to work in marble and onyx as a part of the collection, introducing some soap dishes and incense holders. Because they are cut from stone, each piece is so unique and I find myself obsessing over individual pieces. I start to anthropomorphize them, which leads to becoming very attached to these objects that I know I need to send out into the world, to customers or stores! They're just endlessly fascinating and beautiful to me. My current favourite stone we're starting to work with is Limestone - in shades of the palest greys and creamy beiges. It reminds me of ancient architecture but also looks really fresh to me. I love it paired with Green Onyx, like in John Pawson's work at the ArchAbbey of Pannonhalma.






Photo by Vera Mishurina



Can you share a recipe or idea for a simple, healing meal that you make for yourself often?

In the summer, my favourite meals are something that I can put together quickly, without having to cook. A picnic-style charcuterie plate is a perfect meal to graze on. Fresh fruit and veggies, beautiful meats and cheeses, any combination of whatever looks good. I live next to a weekly farmer's market so I load up on everything there, every Saturday morning. I'll add these excellent Spanish tinned seafood cans from La Tienda that are stocked at my local butcher shop. The razor clams and cockles are so tasty. That paired with a nice sourdough baguette with some Euro-style butter from a local creamery, is a little slice of heaven, especially with a glass of natural wine. My favourite these days is from Can Sumoi; it's an ever-so-slightly effervescent rosé. It's a healing meal in that it creates enjoyment and a feeling of gratitude.



Photo by Lloyd Stevie with styling by Lauren Shooster



Photo courtesy of Binu Binu

At what moments are you the truest version of yourself?

When I feel acceptance towards myself, which is something I'm working hard at doing. I'm trying to be kinder to myself every day which I think is a good path towards self-awareness and being a true version of myself.



 Photo by Vera Mishurina



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