“While I was working at the Boston Medical Center, one of my coworkers was starting the challenge of 100 days of happiness, where you take a picture every day and you share it on Instagram. My friends were telling me, ‘Oh, you’re so artistic, you should be on it!’ and I just thought oh, whatever. It’s another social platform. How great could it be?” Lacombe laughed. “But I did it anyway, because I was looking for that artistic outlook. And by day five, I was totally invested.”
Around this time, Lacombe was also experiencing a professional shift. She originally thought that she was going to pursue a career in pediatrics, but a few weeks before what would have been her first day of medical school, a different, artistic career called her instead. “I think at that point it had really culminated, and the decision was really clear,” Lacombe said. “I [would have] had to give up on a lot of the creative work and projects I had built up until that point in order to pursue medicine. And it was just a question of what was more core to my identity.”
“Medicine was always the more logical, rational option,” she said. “And [creativity] was the more natural passion.” Now, Lacombe is an art director for Sephora in San Francisco. She has previously worked for Prada, Dior, and Buzzfeed. Despite her pre-med background, Lacombe says she has always been invested in the arts. Before college, she sewed and sold pencil cases for fun and would borrow her photographer father’s camera for her own projects.
“I would carry the video camera around and take videos of my friends and pretend to make documentaries all the time, even though we did nothing really significant,” she said.
While at Harvard, she sang in the a capella group KeyChange and made a documentary about food waste for a sociology course, the process of which fascinated her. “How do you represent something that is important, or that has meaning? How do you convey it to somebody in a way that they’ll be interested?” she said. “I think that really helped me hone in on the art field—in particular the visual arts.”
During her junior year, Lacombe found something that combined both her creativity and her entrepreneurial spirit when she realized she had too many clothes in her closet.
“Dorms are tiny, so it was unbearable. And I was supposed to study abroad in the following semester, so I needed to get rid of [them],” she says. “There was probably a simple solution to that, but being a very creative person I got carried away very easily.”
What started out as an issue of convenience turned into a two-year business. She soon realized that she could sell her clothes online. “That just quickly snowballed into ‘Well if I’m selling online, I need my own website, and if I need my own website, I have to design it, and I have to take the photographs, and I have to figure out a payment process, and I have to advertise.’ It just spiraled.” She started an online retail consignment shop called “I Like Fall,” hired interns, and won the Harvard Individual Green Carpet Award.
“I guess looking back, I was the creative director of that,” she said. The next year, Lacombe started “The Kipi Blog” as both a welcome alternative to schoolwork and as a mode of creative expression. She wrote about travel, DIY, and photography “under a pastel framework”—themes similar to what @creativekipi is now. They even share the same namesake, and for good reason: “Kipi” was a nickname Lacombe’s father gave her when she was a child.
“The name ‘Kipi’ is associated with childhood, obviously, in a very endearing and positive way. And my dad is a very positive and vibrant person,” she said. “That name just embodies a lot of what I cherish within that youthful perspective. There’s a lot of playfulness and wonderment about the world.”
“Since it was such an important name for me,” she said. “I knew whatever I did with it could not fail.”