There are few people you meet in life who make you feel as though you are in exactly the right place at the right time. Like you are meant to be having the very conversation you're having with that specific person in the very place you're standing. Some people call it kismet.
That's the feeling I had when meeting Kime Buzzelli for the first time, strolling into her shop minutes after closing time and talking about everything under the stars for 3 hours. Our conversation spanned ex-boyfriends, desert life, the saving grace of therapy, being boss ladies, healing old familial wounds, art and the importance of it in our lives, spiritual awakenings, and then we topped it off with some lighthearted shopping. (I just couldn't help myself.)
I quickly learned that every person who has ever met Kime has felt the same way. That's just who she is, and she doesn't seem to have a fake bone in her body. Throw in mad painting skills and a sharp eye for colorful style, and it's no wonder she's found great success -- most recently with her amazing shop in Yucca Valley, called The End. Anyone who's anyone who's been to the desert makes it a point to stop here. The majority of inventory consists of fabulous vintage finds, but she also carries a swath of talented indie designers, many of whom are local. A happy dance between color explosions and print parties, this place will make a fashion maximalist's heart sing. And Kime is basically a walking version of her store so there you have it. Find out about her favorite desert haunts and style muses in this Q&A!
The End opened in 2012, but you've had quite a career leading up to this. Tell me about your background.
I grew up in Solon, Ohio -- a suburb of Cleveland. I studied Art Education and then later finished a painting degree BFA while living in Columbus, Ohio. After graduating, I opened my first shop in Cinti, Ohio called the Blue Piano. I was always fascinated by sunny California and dreamed of moving there since my teens...which I finally did in 1998. I worked as a buyer for a vintage clothing shop where I met lots of amazing fashion stylists and costume designers. I opened my second store, SHOW PONY, in Echo park in 2000. I worked as a stylist assistant and dabbled in silkscreening and designing clothes for friend's shops. It was an amazing experience and felt like a creative home base for friends and makers. I continued to make art and illustrations as a freelancer for magazines and galleries during those 9 years.
You're known to have an incredible eye and have curated quite the collection at your store! When did your love affair with vintage begin?
Thank you! I have always loved collecting vintage. My birthday is near Halloween so as a child I would have costume themed parties which definitely sparked my love of dressing up. My mom used to take me to thrift shops & antique stores and I was obsessed with hats and costumes and especially unique 60's and 70's coats. I loved imagining the lives these clothes lived and who wore them. I preferred one-of-a-kind things which is why the malls were always boring to me, because everyone else could have the same thing. I liked the thrill of scoring something so strange and wearing it in many different ways. My mother always said I mismatched patterns and prints even as a kid. I was always in and out of resale shops and thrift stores in college, buying old polaroid land cameras and taking pictures of all my thrift store vintage clothing finds modeled by my friends in cemeteries or abandoned warehouses, HA. Sounds even weirder now when I think about it!
What has been your proudest moment at The End? Any clientele you'd like to brag about? *wink*
I just really love seeing unique artisans and designers and creators come together in my shop and witnessing their evolution as makers. There is sort of a family unity in owning a shop -- you give birth to this place and it unites people and you have a loyalty and excitement for the pieces people make and how the public responds to your space and the work. There is something so magical when you see all the pieces fitting together. I was proud when Wall Street Journal declared it a secret shop worth driving out for. Some tourists would be holding a folded copy of the paper. We have been lucky to have some amazing people come into the shop! Obviously, lots of musicians are drawn to the area. Childish Gambino, John Doe from X, Kurt Vile, Purity Ring, Zella Day...Colin Farrell, Daryl Hannah always a favorite. One time a giant tour bus pulled up and an excited woman declared "YOU'RE OPEN!". It was Miley Cyrus's adorable mom Tish and dad Billy Ray (who we found out had been coming up here multiple times just to shop at the store). She bought one of my paintings for Miley.
What does style mean to you, and how would you describe your own?
To me, style is the individual way in which you express your personality and story. I have described my style as "Fired Art Teacher". Mostly because I love dressing like an abstract painting while utilizing some quirky elements that seem homemade. I love the notion of fantasy and illusion in dressing and that wearing something can change your whole day. I have always mixed eras and have a tendency to mix prints and crazy color patterns -- I call them happy accidents. I have been told I am the opposite of a minimalist. I had always envied the Patty Smith way of dressing but it sadly just doesn't suit me. I own about 2 pieces of clothing that are solid colored, and I feel like I am hiding my true self when I wear them. I have always adored African textiles and jewelry and like things that tell a story. I am in awe of pieces from other cultures and have evidence of handiwork -- beading and embroidery, batik and appliqué. I don't really like following trends and am more attracted to people who wear offbeat things.
Who are your personal style icons?
Over the years…Niki de St Phalle, Yayoi Kusama, Iris Apfel, Adam Ant, Blondie, Lisa Bonet from A Different World, Zandra Rhodes
What made you choose to open your shop in Joshua Tree, and what does this place mean to you?
I would often come out to the desert to get away and reboot. The desert is a healing vortex where you can be more present. I would often visit and just feel the stress fall away and think to myself, “Someday I want to live here and make art and stare at this magical landscape.” I like the slowness and the sweet locals I have met here who make this place special. This place means letting go. Not needing to be part of the insane energy of a busy city.
If you had only one day to spend in Joshua Tree, how would you spend it?
I would go eat at La Copine, then check out the Sky Village Swap Meet and swing by the Crochet Museum to see Shari Elf‘s magical world. Definitely take a lil hike around Barker Dam (only a few miles but has petroglyphs in caves!!). Drink an incredible latte at Frontier Cafe, then spend magic hour wandering around Pioneertown and eating at Pappy + Harriet’s while listening to local bands.
There is sort of a family unity in owning a shop — you give birth to this place and it unites people.
Jackets (I stopped counting at 250 recently). Or Exotic Persian cats, or pieces of pizza.
My most prized possession is:
A gigantic vintage native american turquoise ring (it’s about 7 inches long, it is so unbelievable!)
People would be surprised to know I:
Used to play the harp. I am obsessed with soundtracks.
Currently on my playlist:
ESG, Chelan, Battleme, new Warpaint album, NAF, Valleygirl soundtrack (always).
My drink of choice:
Favorite place to find cool shit:
My best trip:
In 2004, I went to Tokyo Japan to do a group art show with over 25 artists and musicians. It was so much fun roaming around the city hitting clubs, record stores, 10-story toy stores and flea markets. We ended up singing karaoke in a giant high rise with big windows overlooking the entire city. I sang “We’re the Kids in America” which was right after the film, Lost In Translation, had come out and everything was like a dream — taking crazy pics in crowded arcades, following the Harajuku girls and traveling in a fast super train to Kyoto to visit the temples and the oldest tea houses.