Why Portland?

January 31, 2019

One of the questions I got asked the most since I moved. Truthfully, I know my answer makes some people awkward and uncomfortable.

01.29.16 – Day 2 of the move up as I crossed the border from my native state to my new home state.


Truthfully, I know my answer makes some people awkward and uncomfortable. I’m always honest with my answer but because of that, every now and then I hesitate in answering.  But unless I want to make something up, there is no other way for me to word it: I moved to Portland, Oregon because God called me here. 


It was a year-long calling that I struggled with. I knew within my soul that God wanted me to move and because I was commuting 3 hours a day, naturally, I assumed he wanted me to move closer to where I was working. 


If you’ve ever had to look for apartments then you’ll understand the frustration. It’s like job hunting. For 2 months, I actively searched for places within a forgiving radius around downtown Los Angeles, only to have doors close left and right.

I was frustrated and gave up for awhile.

However, that tug in my soul to move could not be ignored so a few months later I started up the search again. This 2nd time the search only lasted a month as now things were just getting ridiculous. It was to the point where I’d see a new listing posted, call that same morning it was posted and get a “Oh that must’ve been a mistake,” or “It has already been taken.” I was like, “How is that possible?? You JUST listed it this morning!”

Needless to say, I was pissed off at God for awhile. “Why would you put in my heart this need to move and then here I am trying to do what YOU want and you’re not helping.”

It was crystal clear that I was going the wrong route.  


The saying, “hindsight is 20/20” is so true.

It’s amazing how I can look back at that year-long struggle and see all the pieces being perfectly placed together.

A girlfriend and decided to go on a weekend trip to Seattle one weekend and suddenly at the last minute I felt that we should change it to Portland. This was an unexpected change as both of us had never been to Seattle and really wanted to visit, while she had been to Portland before and didn’t like it and I had no idea what Portland was even about.

Let me tell you though, the moment I stepped foot off the plane I knew without a doubt that this was where I was supposed to be.


After the trip, I continued to pray about it for a month, “Why Portland?” “Fashion is here in LA, what will I do up there?” After 1 month of praying the same things over and over, I finally clearly felt God say to me, “Don’t worry about the details.” 


And that was it.

I didn’t need more convincing or evidence. I knew for 110% sure that for whatever reason, God wanted me in Portland. 3 months later I packed up my dog, my iMac, and my rice cooker (#priorities) into my tiny 2 seater convertible and was driving up to Portland. 


People say that I was really brave to do that without knowing anybody and knowing anything about the place I was headed, but honestly, it wasn’t hard. When you know that the creator of everything wants you to go somewhere, you know He has your back. There was nothing to be afraid of. 

Giving up my successful 10-year career in fashion design, for the unknown wasn’t hard either, coming from a place where I also didn’t choose that journey (That’s another story but it was the 1st time I had ever heard from God and it changed my life and who I became). Everything I had was given to me as a result of following God’s leading. When you come from a place of receiving, It’s not hard to let go of what was not yours to begin with. 

3 YEARS AGO TODAY is when I left my friends, family and career of almost 10 years in Southern California and moved to Portland Oregon!

3 YEARS AGO TODAY was a new chapter of discovering my true passion and purpose in life–And it starts in this very city. Portland is of huge significance to my story. The city, the move, the time spent here and the people I’ve met, all lead me to start this brand, Grace Kim Portland.

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I'm Grace Kim,

a fashion designer-turned-career strategist, [mis]adventurer and your biggest believer.

I'm a girl who dropped out of college, was told I would fail in fashion, then went on to create my 6-figure design career before the age of 30.

Now, with my 11+ years of experience in the corporate world, I'm here to guide, support, and connect other designers so they can build a flourishing career despite all odds set against their success, and experience more freedom in & outside of work while getting paid what they deserve.

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