In Conversation with Kiya Tomlin, Fashion Designer & Entrepreneur

Kiya Tomlin_Blog Header

Describe your business in a few words?

“Uniting cover girl glamour with the comfort and ease of a favorite sweatshirt. Our designs embody femininity, versatility, and the constant pursuit of the place where style, function, and comfort intersect.” (Click here to check it out!)

What made you take the leap to start your own business?

After years of designing custom evening wear for women and seeing the surprise, joy, and confidence women gained through clothes designed for their most special occasions, I wanted to help women feel like that every day. I wanted to help women feel comfortable, confident, and beautiful all day. I wanted to be financially independent. I wanted to build something I was proud of and that I could pass down to my kids.

What was your background prior to starting your own business?

I’ve been designing since I was four years old. Then I taught myself how to sew at eleven years old. That’s when I realized I loved clothes.

Unfortunately, at that age, I was the size of a six-year-old, much too small to fit the fashions I coveted. Ever the problem solver, I asked for a sewing machine for Christmas and taught myself how to sew. 

I dove right in and taught myself a crude form of pattern making by mixing, matching, and piecing together numerous patterns to collage my way to my own designs. I spent all of my spare time during my formative years sewing everything from baby clothes to prom dresses for my friends, family, and myself. 

At the time, it seemed like only a hobby. I even enrolled into college on a pre-med track. I then realized a doctor’s schedule doesn’t align well with a professional football coach schedule. (Yes, I’m married to THAT head coach!) Within our first few years of marriage, we moved around A LOT.

One of our moves landed us in Cincinnati, Ohio. Mike was coaching at the University of Cincinnati and I promptly enrolled in their College of Design, Art, and Architectural Planning, to formally (and finally!) study fashion design. 

(A reminder that most things in life come full circle, don’t give up on a dream.) Anyway, this program breathed new life into me, a breath I so desperately needed after nearly suffocating as a childless housewife in a small-town USA! And here we are 20+ years later, making clothing for women, allowing them to feel confident in and out of their homes while they wear many hats. 

I’m so grateful for the path that has led me here and I’m overjoyed to continue to design pieces she loves.

We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?

One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced as a designer and business owner is finding reliable suppliers. Being a fashion designer and my product being my business it’s important to have suppliers that you can trust and know will have the supplies you need to continue to grow your business.

What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?

During the 6 years we’ve been in business we’ve been able to get featured in O Magazine, Yahoo Style, The TODAY Show, HBO Sports, People Style Watch just to name a few.

Our brick and mortar store is located in Pittsburgh, PA, and during the lockdown we used our design studio to manufacture 20k masks for essential workers in the community. 

This past year we were nominated for Pittsburgh’s Best Designer in 2020.

How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Originally starting as a brick and mortar business with some online presence this pandemic pivoted my business to mainly relying on online sales. Something that I think a lot of businesses realized and learned how to adapt throughout this year. I’m grateful to know that I had a wonderful team to help and assist me with this change and that my business was able to continue to grow during this time.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?

That there is never a perfect time or perfect circumstance, so don’t wait for it. Take steps towards your goal and opportunities will reveal themselves.

Share it!

Posted in
Tags

Leave a Comment





Ashleigh Barker, Head of Beauty for Lincoln International, on her unique Entreprenista journey

Describe your business in a few words: I am the Head of Beauty for Lincoln International, an investment banking platform that advises brands and management teams on growth capital fundraising and M&A advisory strategies. What was your background prior to starting your own business? I’m an M&A strategy, advisor and investment professional with both investment…

Cheli Grace of Book to Millions Reflects on 1 Year in The Entreprenista League

Brief description of your business: I offer professional publishing services with business strategy. I help you write, publish and market your non-fiction book that is aligned to your business and brand. We have a 5-phase system that does a lot of the work for you so all you have to do is show up with…

Rosemary Leader, Founder of Connect The Kind, has set out to change the way we gift

Describe your business in a few words: My name is Rosemary Leader, and I started Connect The Kind in December 2020. At Connect The Kind, we have set out to change the way people gift. Our mission has been to create a more meaningful, impactful way to celebrate the good people in your lives. We…

Ashley Reckdenwald, Founder of Working Mom Notes, on her mission as a Mamaprenista

Describe your business in a few words: I am the Founder of Working Mom Notes. My mission is to empower mothers through community and experience, enabling all to prosper in both career and motherhood. I believe in moderating difficult conversations to help women feel seen and heard. What was your background prior to starting your…

Riley Flanagan of Riley’s Rows on starting her own international wine company

Describe your business in a few words: When I was four years old, Dad and I had our first harvest. I came home and knew I wanted to be a winemaker. I have loved growing up in this industry and I started Riley’s Rows as a way to share wines with people. My mission is…

Adriana Robinson, Founder of Reina Skincare, on her “accidental” success as an Entreprenista

Describe your business in a few words: My name is Adriana Robinson. I started this business in 2018. I was suffering from Acne all over my body and the products in store were not working for me. I decided to go the natural route and I accidentally ordered 10 pounds of Shea Butter instead of…

Laura Elliott, Co-Founder of Kula Inc., on taking the leap to launch a podcast

Describe your business in a few words: I am Laura Elliott the co-founder of Kula Inc. Kula is transforming the way moms receive support with a membership-based platform that allows moms to book 1:1 virtual sessions with a network of maternal wellness experts, including sleep consultants, counselors, career coaches, nutritionists, and more. What was your…

Meet Britney Mahoney: Senior Executive Assistant turned Entreprenista

Describe your business in a few words: As an 18-year highly experienced executive assistant with a diverse background in providing support to senior-level officials through in-person and virtual settings. Your business is our business. I believe in making your dreams and goals a reality and my Virtual Assistants know just how to do that. We’re…

Dawn Scott, Host of The Empowered CPA, is educating Entreprenistas with her curated courses

Describe your business in a few words: I am a CPA, podcast host, digital content creator, and co-founder of a blow-dry bar. What was your background prior to starting your own business? I worked for boutique accounting firms, a publicly traded utility and high net worth trust companies. Did you always know you wanted to…

Meet Caley Adams, Founder & Creative Director of Wildes District

Describe your business in a few words: Caley Adams is the Founder & Creative Director of Wildes District, an NYC-based design studio that specializes in emerging women’s and e-commerce brands. Wildes District works closely with founders to build meaningful experiences that span multiple touchpoints — including brand, web, app, print, packaging, and more. Caley has…

Public Relations Leader and Entreprenista, Ronica Cleary, on highlighting important and impactful stories

Describe your business in a few words: I launched Cleary Strategies to provide public relations, media placements, & crisis management to leaders and corporations. I’m a former television journalist who most recently worked as a White House Correspondent and hosted a weekly political talk show for WTTG Fox 5. My goal is to help you…

Brielle Brown, Founder & CEO of Anxiety Cosmetics, on Launching a Beauty Company Mid-Pandemic

Describe your business in a few words: I am the Founder & CEO of Anxiety Cosmetics! We are a Clean Beauty Brand Specializing in CBD Infused Cosmetics. BRAND STORY: The story starts a few years back when I was eating CBD gummies before bed due to my own Anxiety. I would toss and turn at…

Alla Koretsky of HeyLayer is on a mission to make sure women are represented in Web3

Describe your business in a few words: Alla Koretsky is Co-founder and CEO of HeyLayer – the one-stop NFT management solution to help brands transition into web3.Before founding HeyLayer, Alla spent over 15 years working as a buyer in luxury fashion, E-commerce, and subscription business startups, bridging gaps between branding, marketing, and product development. Her…

Ashley Girard of Welly’s Wellness on how her early days shaped the Entreprenista she’d become

Describe your business in a few words: Hi, I’m Ashley Girard — CEO and Founder of Welly’s Wellness. We sell prepackaged snacks, drinks and on-the-go essentials, as well as salads, fresh pressed juice + shots and more! Think of us like a healthy 7-11, but on wheels (and way cuter!). We also launched an MVP…

Donatella Arpaia: Serial Entreprenista, Attorney turned Restaurateur and Head Judge on Iron Chef America

Describe your business in a few words: Donatella Arpaia is a serial entrepreneur, trailblazing attorney turned restaurateur, celebrity chef, cookbook author, motivational speaker, brand ambassador, and mother. Donatella is best known for her recurring role as Head Judge on Iron Chef America. What was your background prior to starting your own business? My background was…