PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Simple, classic, slightly unusual and comfortable — that’s how Kiya Tomlin describes her fashion creations.
She fits, designs and sews everything herself from start to finish using only the finest fabric.
Kiya’s interest in fashion started when she made her first design at age 4. She used white construction paper, scissors and tape to make a ballet tutu.
At age 11, she asked for a sewing machine.
“My mom taught me how to sew, how to work the machine just based off what she knew from home ec,” said Kiya.
By high school, Kiya not only made her prom dresses, but also her sisters, cousins and many of her friends.
Kiya went to college at William and Mary on a full gymnastics scholarship to study pre-med, not ever realizing her fashion potential.
“To me it was kind of a hobby I didn’t see it as really a career. There [weren't] ‘Project Runway’ type shows that make you realize, ‘Oh, this is a viable career,’” said Kiya.
It was at William and Mary that Kiya would meet, fall in love and after graduation marry Coach Mike Tomlin.
Kiya designed her own wedding dress.
Through the years she studied, took a few classes and bought books all to hone her design skills.
Fast forward 10 years and Kiya’s hobby has now turned into a successful design business and it’s one she says coach Tomlin supports no matter what.
“He is very supportive. He doesn’t pretend to know if it’s good or not,” she said.
“We went out to a charity event one night and the attire was artsy chic, so I had on this red dress, it was a tent dress and it was short, long sleeves and it had a hood.
“And I said, ‘Okay, so what do you think?’ And he looked at it and said, ‘If you like it, I love it. Let’s go,’” Kiya said.
Kiya works with private clients to create designs customized to their specific body type.
Eventually she’d like to open a store to the public and sees nothing wrong with that store being right here in Pittsburgh.
“I love it here. It’s home now. We’ve never lived anywhere this long, so we’re comfortable. The people are great, they’re genuine,” said Kiya.
“This is our third NFL team and I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s a really cool experience,” she said.