My journey started when I was 9 years old living in Jamaica, one of five kids my parents had. I was the middle child, which was not beneficial when it came to getting new clothes - I wanted to do something about it. Yeah, at 9. My mom had an old black Singer sewing machine and I asked to use it. Her reply " You are too young." I went to school and told my teacher I wanted to join the sewing class and my first project was sewing a pleated skirt by hand. And so it began…
When I started secondary school, I signed up for Clothing and Textiles and really learnt my way around the sewing machine. I’d come home and show off what I would make to my mother and older sisters and some of my designs were really out there. I finished my five years of secondary school and went straight into an institution that taught fashion design, draping and everything else you could think of that had to do with fabric. Three years later I completed my program and graduated with a certificate in fashion design from the Jamaica School of Fashion. With credentials in hand, I set out to work and did well with several small businesses.
Realizing how important my work was to my various employers and their customers, I decided I wanted to be my own boss and have my own satisfied customers. So, I did that. I stayed home and started my own business from a corner in the house. My mom saw what I was doing and built an addition to the house and there started my Sewing Studio. Customers could come in, get measured, fit and pick up their garments.
And I sewed for everyone – the churchgoer, the dancehall diva, the Mr. Dappers, and children. Formal wear, leisure wear, uniforms and even bathing suits. But after doing that for a few years I thought I needed to do more. I turned to Interior Design and added curtains and throw pillows, bed linens and slipcovers. By this time I had been sewing and designing for 22 years when I upped and immigrated to the United States.
I got here in March of 2004 and by June I was enrolled at Gibbs College to further my education in fashion design. I graduated from Gibbs with an Associates Degree in Fashion Design and went immediately to a young company that was sewing roots in Fairfield, Connecticut - Blue Tulip. This boutique store didn’t sell clothes, but they sold bags and small homeware and I paid close attention to how things were made and how they were accessorized. And, how they were marketed!
Well, the recession of 2010 hit and Blue Tulip closed its doors. So, what did I do? I decided to start my own business making bags, and go back to school – again! I went to the Fashion Institute of Technology and got another Associates and then my Bachelors Degree in Fashion Merchandising Management. I graduated finally and went full-time into my own business – Karlene Lindsay Designs. At the time Fashion Weeks were popping up all over the place outside of New York so I went back to my passion of clothing and participated in quite a few events. This got me noticed by a boutique owner and pretty soon my designs were featured in a small boutique in West Haven, CT.
Growing up I had always dreamt of wearing princess dresses but my parents couldn't afford to buy any. And so after designing and making clothes, bags, and homeware for so many years I decided to focus on my dream of making beautiful princess dresses – but in the form of bridal gowns. Seeing the smiles on brides’ faces when wearing their dream wedding dresses makes me feel great. l do have a few formal dresses in my collection, though, so don’t get it twisted, I cover a lot of ground in fashion and design. And I do not discriminate when it comes to size! Every man, woman, and the child want to look great so I create clothes for every size. The thing is, now my main focus is bridal wear.
However, we are more than just bridal. Bridal, formal and party dresses.