When would-be designers imagine their success story, most see a life changing fashion show, followed by overwhelming press buzz, mountains of garment orders, and a cliff house in Fiji overlooking a private yacht harbor. But, the reality is quite different and when some are faced with the rough road, they head for the exit. So when I have the chance to speak with an emerging designer who has faced the giant and succeeded, I am left both amazed and inspired.
So it was when I meet with Karissa Lindsay founder and lead designer for clothing line A Leap of Style. Even after a beyond successful Kickstarter campaign, some serious media attention, and placement in her ideal boutique, she is still incredibly humble, thankful and fully aware there is much more left to do.
"A Leap of Style is about Bold prints, classic design," said Lindsay as she describes her barely one year old company. She admitted to being bit by the fashion bug at an early age, but it wasn't until her college and post-college years that the real awakening of her talent began, much to the confusion of some peers and the delight of her close friends.
"I was voted most likely to succeed in high school, so people would say 'you are smart, go become a scientist or a lawyer' ... but one day I wanted a particular dress for my birthday and decided to make it. I got so many compliments, my friends said I should make more and sell them. I was like 'you can make money doing that?!'"
And thus began Lindsay's foray into fashion. Armed with nothing but bolts of fabric and a $50 sewing machine purchased on Ebay, she created a ten-look collection. Once the pieces were done, the newly minted designer turned her attention to getting them in a store.
Lindsay placed Almeda Road boutique Melodrama in her cross hairs early on. The fashion forward vibe was exactly what she was looking for, so she made her way to a Melodrama event decked out in A Leap of Style hoping to meet Jackie Adams, founder and owner of the boutique.
She did meet with Adams and within a few months A Leap of Style was on the racks and Lindsay was on her way. The collection flew from store hangars almost immediately, found its way onto the backs of celebrities and Houston fashion elite, and had its first premier fashion show earlier this year.
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Just this past May, Lindsay surpassed her $15,000 Kickstarter goal successfully funding the production of her current line The Blue/Bird Collection. The pieces, created using Ankara fabrics of West Africa, capture the spirit and liveliness of the culture from which they were born.
"I'm attracted to what the prints represent to me as a black women. It is a matter of deep appreciation," said Lindsay.
Overall, Lindsay's story is one we have heard before, talented designer goes for her dream and makes it through determination and faith. But, it is the result that is extraordinary. I've seen many designers meet success with a sense of entitlement, but Lindsay sees it as a surprise companion and that is refreshing in this world.