Take one look at Sophie Snow and you wouldn’t be surprised to learn that she is the woman behind Happy Six, the chain boutique (there are now two in Southern California) exploding in Hello Kitty and other kawai goodness.
What you would be surprised to learn is that the ethnically Tieuchiu Chinese and her family fled the Khmer Rouge and their native Cambodia when she was just a little girl. “We came to America with literally nothing but the clothes on our backs,” says Snow. “We lost everything we had — family members, homes, everything.”
To support the family — who even lived in the projects at one point — Snow’s mother worked in sewing factories. “That’s how I learned to sew,” says Snow. “Out of neccessity, I learned to make my own clothes.”
Fast forward a couple decades. Snow had been working as a (self-taught) designer for various fashion companies. She happened to see a “For Lease” sign in the Sawtelle area of West Los Angeles one day. That space became Happy Six. Today, in addition to carrying Hello Kitty, tokidoki, Harajuku Lovers, Tarina Tarantino, Angry Little Girls, and Disney Couture, Happy Six also features Snow’s own line Sophie Snowflake as well as the in-house Happy Six line. Snow opened her second Happy Six boutique in Plaza El Segundo in nearby El Segundo, Calif.
So what makes the 37-year-old tick and so obsessed with all things kawai after all these years? We asked her.
Q. What is it about Hello Kitty and anime characters that you like so much?
Sophie Snow: They remind me of being a kid. They’re so fun and happy, which is the essence of my store. People say they come to Happy Six to get happy. From the pink walls to the brightly colored merchandise, it just grabs your attention, and these characters help create that imaginary world of fun.
Q. So, do you always dress like a cartoon character?
SS: This is me, all the time. I dress just as inappropriately no matter what the occasion! I go to the gym in Hello Kitty sweats. I went to a church wedding carrying a goldfish purse that looked like a huge stuffed animal goldfish. To me, life is about having fun and being happy, no matter where you are or what you’re doing.
And I’m a bit of a rebel. The more corporate and conservative the event, the more I want to not conform. Even if you see me in a plain black shirt, I’ll have on a bright pink bra underneath and unicorns on my panties.
Q. Any fashion or accessory secrets that you rely on to look good?
SS: Definitely. We all have our flaws and insecurities. For me, because I’m barely 5 feet tall — I’m being generous! — I always wear heels. I’ve learned to hem my pants a little on the long side to give my legs a longer appearance. I also have a short neck, so I opt for v-necks or I will cut my shirts into a scoop- or boat-neck.
I also make sure that I have long, well-manicured nails at all times because it just makes you look that much more feminine and put together. One thing I learned from one of my customers, the singer Christina Aguilera, is to always wear makeup as though you’re on stage. Because I have to deal with the public all the time, I always have to be camera-ready. The right makeup is crucial to look flawless on camera, as Christina always does.
Q. What are your favorite pieces in your wardrobe?
SS: I love my Sophie Snowflake T-shirts! I design them, and we make them in-house. My favorite one has a hand-cut giraffe on it with pink furry spots, gold stud eyes, a fabric tongue that flaps around, and tufts of pink yarn for its hair and tail.
Q. Favorite TV show?
SS: SpongeBob Squarepants.
Q. What does Happy Six mean?
SS: The name Happy Six does have a meaning, but it’s a secret!
Keep an eye out for more Sophie Snow! In addition to Happy Six, she’s got a shoe line and a children’s book project in the works.
Photos courtesy of M. Craig and Associates.