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





Chef Joanne Thomas on Transforming Her Passion into A Culinary Business

“I didn’t realize that it was my gift. I know it was something that I enjoyed and it’s something that I loved, but I didn’t learn that it was my gift until I got into my 30s.” As a young girl, Joanne Thomas used her Easy-Bake Oven to make the best light-bulb-baked brownies that anyone…

April Gargiulo on Addressing the Luxury Skincare Market Gap

“So often in the beauty world the purpose of the communication is to create a sense of fear and insecurity and I refuse to participate in that.” In this episode of Entreprenista, we sat down with April Gargiulo, founder and CEO of Vintner’s Daughter, a Nutritional Skincare brand founded on the principles of unparalleled quality…

Cigdem Oztabak on Her Marketing and Communication Consultant Company

Hi, Cigdem! Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: Hi, I’m Cigdem. With over 21 years of experience in marketing and a fervent entrepreneurial spirit, I bring a comprehensive background in product marketing, communication, and content marketing focused on B2C mobile fintech app, B2B software sectors. Currently, I serve as a panel…

Keynote Speaker and Success Coach Rosann Santos on Her Business Journey

Hi, Rosann! Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: Hi, I’m Rosann Santos, a keynote speaker and success coach. I enjoy coaching my clients by using their strengths to move them forward. My exceptional communication skills in both English and Spanish allow me to stand out above the crowd. I empower, enlighten,…

Veteran Sherrie Bryant Shares About Her Aromatherapy and Essential Oil Company

Hi, Sherrie! Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: Hello, My name is Sherrie Bryant. I’m a veteran and woman-owned business. I served 31 years of service in the United States Army. I founded BLK ESSENSE, LLC, with one goal: to provide handcrafted and high-quality fragrances made from essential oils. BLK ESSENSE…

Transforming E-commerce Brands with Data-Driven Email Marketing with Shlesha Pandey

“I’ve tried so many things, I’ve been in the feast and famine cycle. First you struggle to get clients or customers and then you struggle with your marketing to keep up with that. It’s never ending. There’s always something to do and it’s important to take a pause and step back and look at how…

Mastering the Art of Serial Entrepreneurship with Divya Gugnani of Wander Beauty & 5 SENS

“Every email that goes out with a pitch to tell someone about the brand—they may not answer, they may not opt in for product, and we may not gift them, but I built one more touch point of brand awareness and maybe [they] read that email and discovered our brand. You have to be what…

Style Meets Comfort With Alexa Stimpfel’s Company, The Shoe Fairy

Hi, Alexa! Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: My name is Alexa! I am the visionary entrepreneur behind The Shoe Fairy, where style meets comfort in the world of high heels. I am a shoe designer, e-commerce expert, a trailblazer in the bodybuilding industry, and above all, a mother. I founded…

Alexia Dubois’ Company Offers Sustainable, Luxurious Kid’s Apparel

Hi, Alexia! Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: Hi, I’m Alexia. At Shop Amour USA, we offer a unique selection of carefully curated European kid’s clothes brands that embody our strong values and commitment to quality. Our exclusive collection of premium kid’s clothing is designed and produced in Europe. We work…

Sandra Morno Helps Women Entrepreneurs Manage Their Money

Hi, Sandra! Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: I’m Sandra Morno, a tax strategist and IRS Enrolled Agent, and I run SSBM Consulting LLC. I specialize in helping women with six-figure service businesses in the U.S., who live abroad or travel, manage their taxes. My mission is to educate and save…

Conquering Financial Trauma with Alejandra Rojas

“We learn the financial services, we learn what is in that system. We don’t learn about our relationship with money. We don’t learn about our relationship with success. We didn’t learn anything that has to do with the emotional and mindset side of money. You might know the instruments, you may know the old literacy…

Emily Walker Created Her Own Freedom With a Medical Credentialing Business

Hi, Emily! Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: Hi, I’m Emily, the owner of Integrity Medical Credentialing Services. I help providers build a strong base for their practice by ensuring they are connected correctly to the insurance companies needed and that their credentialing and information are accurate and current. What excites…

Building a Beauty Empire from the Ground Up with Kitsch Founder, Cassandra Thurswell

“I realized with every business that I’ve ever had, that is my strength, being of service. I’m an excellent waitress. I am an excellent people pleaser. I will serve until the day I die because I genuinely love doing it so much.” In this episode of Entreprenista, we sat down with Cassandra Thurswell, Founder and…

Carissa Jennings on Turning Pain Into Passion With Her Beauty Supply Store

Hi, Carissa! Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: Hi, I’m Carissa Jennings, a widowed mother of one child and inspiring author of a memoir I’ve been working on since 2016. A year after the death of my terminally ill father, I turned entrepreneur by turning my pain into my passion. I…

Christina Nicholson on Her Modern Marketing Agency, Media Maven

Hi, Christina! Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: I’m Christina, I’m a journalist, national TV producer, and publicity and content creation agency owner of Media Maven. Our three-part YES Method amplifies the brand’s media exposure without breaking the bank. I started Media Maven after working as a local TV anchor and…