The Gold Standard: The Woman Behind True Religion Jeans
After making $50,000 a month selling T-shirts at a very young age at various spots in Los Angeles starting with the Venice Boardwalk, True Religion jeans co-founder Kym Gold recounts her hardships both personally and professionally, while sharing with us how to rock the world and build an empire. Her business acumen in her latest tell-all memoir The Gold Standard reveals her shocking business journey in the fashion world. Her frank and candid recounting of her childhood and relationship disappointments, show us early on setbacks didn’t hold her down.
At a young age Kym Gold was once married to TV producer Mark Burnett of Survivor, The Apprentice, The Voice, Shark Tank, and more. She grew up as a triplet in an extended family in Malibu after her mom’s new marriage brought her down from the valley to The Bu, where growing up reads like a page out of People Magazine. As Kym’s life enfolds we learn that her drive and persistence are unstoppable, which propels her to not lose her Manhatten Beach home while raising two young kids, right before the True Religion phenomenon blew up across America. Later, major devastating setbacks both in love and with her company ‘True Religion’ probably made her wonder if there was ever such a thing as a ‘True Religion.’
Her remarkable ambition to persist with one of the first ever high end denim jean lines with unique details and stitching after hearing “No” for over a year and people telling her they did not like her Buddha logo idea (representative now of the brand) shows us how one woman was determined to succeed. This was during a time that expensive high end unique jeans were just becoming vogue in the US, and eventually jeans became acceptable to wear out at night. The Gold Standard brings to light the American dream and makes you realize that anything is possible. You just need a yes!
Today Gold continues to work in the fashion business as a marketing and branding consultant in LA. She left the brand True Religion in 2007. Her other fashion lines include Bella Dahl, Hippie Jeans, and Babakul. She is the mother of three young men. Her home is currently on the market in Malibu for 26.5 million. We wanted to know how Gold is doing today. She kindly took the time to answer our burning LaLa questions.
The LaLaScoop with Kym Gold:
Q: Where are you now in life?
A: The best place I have been in a long time. A good relationship. 3 kids off to college, of which I am most proud of. Excited about upcoming projects, both in business and philanthropic work.
Q: Where do you see your future with fashion and consulting?
A: Always involved. Fashion has always been a big part of my life. I see my future becoming broader in different mediums of design and business, and not necessarily only in clothing or retail.
Q: Do you think growing up in Malibu affected your drive?
A: No not Malibu per se. I think that always comes from within. However, there were a lot of creative people I was friends with so, maybe that rubs off?
Q: It is amazing how successful you and Mark Burnett became, as well as many people you mentioned in the book who grew up in Malibu. Do you think it may be due to connections, work ethic, or a combination of both?
A: I can’t speak for Mark. but he was always driven like I was, we had that in common. I do have a strong work ethic and that plays a part in anyone’s success.
Q: Do you think there will be some backlash from ex’s or business partners after they read your tell-all?
A: I can only tell my side of the story, so I can’t be concerned with any drama that others want to play into.
Q: Are you at a point in your life where you just want to tell the honest truth?
A: I am always at that point in my life. Honesty is ultimately the best policy and I try to follow that wisdom.
Q: I am curious about your siblings’ successes. What do they do?
A: My sister Michelle Oppenheimer was an acupuncturist and now a well known artist. Traci had her own make up line for many years and then decided to be an active mom with her kids. Scott, my brother is a technological wizard and Adam has is own ad agency with his wife Monika called TRUF.
Q: Why did you decide to write the book now?
A: I had always wanted to write a book. Not only to set the record straight regarding my involvement as Co- Founder of True Religion Brand Jeans, but also to use my vast experience of thirty years in the fashion industry to help others, either with a new startup, or just pass along advice to younger future designers on the business side of the fashion industry with insight and knowledge on the trials and errors I had encountered along the way, hopefully saving them time and money in their own pursuits.
Q: What advice would you offer a young person getting in the fashion business now?
A: Who… What… How… These are the three things I always ask myself before I start any business venture. WHO am I selling to? WHAT am I selling? HOW do I sell it? If you start with these three basic principles, you will simplify and clarify your business venture from the start. If you do have an idea, it is important to do your research about that particular idea. Research is key to finding out information on a subject or an idea you have. Have a strong mission statement and stick to it. Having a solid business plan is a key element at the start. Know your product well and keep that product narrow and deep. Less is more in the beginning. Finally, determination and perseverance are crucial components in executing any ideas. My motto has always been “I’m looking for a YES, not looking for a NO.”
Q: I like how you shared that you were your “own PR.” I have been writing now for over 5 years working with countless PR teams in LA to get products and events heard, and I always wonder how successful some of these PR teams are for their clients. It is an expensive proposition for a company…..one in which I would want major results if I was paying so much each month. Would you like to tell us more about your experience with PR firms?
A: I am lucky to have found a great PR team with Claire McKinney and Larissa Ackerman. I have found over many years of hiring PR firms that PR is an incredibly elusive undertaking. I am of two minds on this. If you find the right PR team that have solid experience in the field your working in and they have the same mission you have to push to get results, it’s a win win. If you don’t find the right team or don’t have the same mission together moving forward, you really are wasting your money.
Comment: I am not sure how you did all that you did with young kids-amazing!
Response: Frankly, neither do I..lol, and Thank you.
Q: Are you now working with True Religion? It sounds like in the end they wanted you back for your ideas and knowledge about the industry.
A: Yes, its a wonderful team
over there now and we met many times to discuss options, but in the end they wanted to go in a different direction as a brand. I am sure the door will always be open for future endeavors. I always wish the best for True Religion.
As a freelance travel and food writer, Melissa's articles have been published on AAA World Magazine, Lonely Planet, Zagat Stories, Roadtrippers, Canadian Traveller, Business Insider, MoneyInc, Resident Magazine (NYC), JohnnyJet, World Footprints, and many more. Some of her favorite travel articles can be found in Darling Magazine. She also writes for local print magazines such as SoCal Life Magazine, Malibu Coast Lifestyle Magazine, Conejo Valley Lifestyle Magazine, LA Travel Magazine, and LA Downtowner. Her love of adventure and learning was fueled while traveling around the world at age 20 on Semester at Sea. She received a Master's degree in Education, taught in England on a Fulbright scholarship, and has been an educator for over 20 years. Over the last decade, she has worked with high profile families in the Los Angeles area.
After growing up in Connecticut and a decade in Washington, DC, west coast living has won her over. Living in LA for the last 13 years has brought Melissa so much joy - thus why LaLaScoop was born. A desire to cover and discover the Best of LA became a shared passion that expanded to numerous guest writers bringing the 'LaLaScoop. Besides writing and helping children learn on Zoom during the pandemic, Melissa spends her free time savoring the Malibu coastline, discovering new hikes, looking for unique finds for her new home, trying to cook new dishes for her husband, and taking DIY to a whole other level. Contact her at Melissa@lalascoop.com.
View all posts by Melissa Curtin