Kim Van Dang is the fearless leader of KVDNYC, a branding and sales management company focusing on luxury and beauty companies. She’s an investor in an extremely cool perfume company, she knows her way around art photography, and she climbed Mount Kilimanjaro (for charity, by the way) after only training for three weeks. Is she intimidating? Maybe a little bit. Is she impressive? Most definitely yes.
What is your best discovery, for work or in life?
Olfactive Studio is the one I’m most excited about right now. It’s a perfume line based on the idea of marrying two of the founder’s passions: perfumery and photography. Each scent is a collaboration between a photographer and a perfumer. The boxes that hold the perfume are inspired by Ilford photo paper boxes, and the names of the scents have to do with photography—“Still Life,” “Self Portrait,” etc. Once Celine (the founder) has the name, she looks for the image, or the photographer who can give her the image that fits her concept. So for “Lumiere Blanche,” (White Light) she thought about working with Massimo Vitale, who’s known for these huge, whitewashed beachscapes in Italy. She cold-called him and gave him the elevator pitch over the phone, and he said to her something like, “Young lady, I have no idea who you her, but I’m in my 90s, and in my entire career no one has ever offered to make a perfume out of one of my photographs before, so the answer is yes.” Then he emailed her his most famous image, the one that’s on the cover of his book and hanging at the Guggenheim, and gave her full rights to use it.
So, apparently you climbed Mount Kilimanjaro at some point. If you were doing it again, what products would you want to have with you?
I had them. MAC wipes, which are wet wipes. You have to do your business out in nature here, so it’s good to be prepared. Plus, it’s just a good wet cloth to use all around, and it smells good. I had Elizabeth Arden’s Eight Hour Cream, which has a Vaseline kind of thickness. You’re getting sunburned and windburned up there, and it’s very protective of your skin. The third thing was probably lip balm. I have very big lips, and I can’t live without lip balm. I think it was Malin & Goetz, which is one of my favorite lip balms.
What was the coolest thing about the climb?
Every day you go through a different ecosystem. You start out in a rain forest, with monkeys swinging from trees, to arid deserts, and the final day you’re around glaciers. The last part of the climb is in the middle of the night. You’re in what’s called the “Death Zone.” Anything about 15,000 feet is not fit for humans. At daybreak, you’re at the top, and you can see everything. It was awesome.