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Self-taught fashion designer opens store in St. Louis

"I’m such a visual learner. With my gift, I always say it's God-given because I don’t use measurements. I don’t use measuring tape. Everything is off the head"
Credit: St. Louis American

ST. LOUIS — Kris Cole’s love and affinity for fashion began at an early age.

In the third grade, she said, after her aunt handed her sewing supplies, she transformed bed sheets and shower curtains into pencil skirts and more. She said she would also cut up her school pictures and sew them onto pieces of fabric.

Once she got older, she said started reading books from the library and watching YouTube videos to expand her knowledge of stitching different garments. She officially launched her brand, Kris Cole the Brand, at 19 with prom dresses. Since then, she’s made those items and other womenswear pieces for all occasions, including birthdays, weddings, black-tie affairs, girls’ night outs, and more.

“I’m such a visual learner. With my gift, I always say it's God-given because I don’t use measurements. I don’t use measuring tape. Everything is off the head,” she said in an interview with The St. Louis American. “It may not be the traditional way, but it's my way and it gave me what I have.”

Clients have met and consulted with Cole at her own personal suite inside a building located at 1409 Washington Avenue for the past three years. As of Nov. 6, returning clients and a new demographic of customers can now patronize with her at her storefront, Kris Cole Design Loft & Accessories, located at 1309 Washington Avenue.

Upon entry, guests are greeted by her slew of mannequins wearing her signature floor-length ball gowns in curve-hugging silhouettes with intricate beadwork and diamond-encrusted detailing. The dresses in hues pink, black and silver match with the rest of the store which is decorated in the same color scheme with a flower wall and accent furniture serving glam aesthetics unsurprising for a 26-year-old fashion designer.

Customers can not only shop with her for custom designs, but they can also purchase ready-to-wear dresses, shoes,and accessories in-house shipped from clothing manufacturers.

Rocking one of her own designs in a cascading gown with a sparkly high neck collar, nude long mesh sleeves and all-around handwoven jewels, Cole told a crowd of people outside of her grand opening that receiving her brick-and-mortar business was unexpected. She said she was in her office space one day and the next she had her store keys.

“I didn’t know where it came from, but it just seemed like it was made for me,” she told the crowd. “It was on the street that I was already working on. It was on the perfect side where shade hits. It had the right amount of fitting rooms. The layout matched the whole assets of the store to fit my style, and it works for my clients.”

She thanked her family for being her biggest supporters, including her nine-year-old son Kristian Cole, who had been in a severe car accident a couple of weeks prior, leaving him with a broken leg.

“For those who don’t know, my baby has a broken leg, but you’ll never be able to tell because he keeps going, but guess where he gets it from [the crowd yelled out his mother to her question],” she said.” I’m thankful that I was able to pass that onto my child.”

During the grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony, she shouted her mother out and asked for feedback, affirming that she’s open to suggestions on how she can continue bettering her business.

She said she chose her store’s current location because she knew it being downtown would bring in a lot of foot traffic versus when she just operated out of her office space.

“I knew that once I had the foot traffic, I could produce more quantities, because when I was in my office, I didn’t carry on hand since I already had a mostly personal clientele,” she said. “Once I got to my storefront, I knew I had to make things more custom and put them on the rack so that people didn’t have to wait the production time for outfits. I already have some things designed and ready to go per size.”

She said her favorite clothing to design is evening gowns because it's more eye-catching than traditional clothes.

“People see it and go, ‘Oh my God, how did you make that?’ versus the standard pants and a shirt,” she said. “My gowns are one-of-a-kind pieces where if I make something, people already know I designed it. It's a signature of mine.”

She toasted to the crowd, encouraging all to chase after their dreams.

“Let's toast to everybody who's out here accomplishing goals, everybody who's out here living fearlessly, chasing dreams, striving, doing what they love to do in life, not letting minor setbacks change what's on their mind for the future,” she said.

“If there’s anybody in this crowd today whose stuck tryna figure out what’s next for them to do, stuck tryna figure out what's for them, give it time God has a plan for you. He’s just weighing the journey out.”

“Come check me out. You can come to the shop and also get that in-person experience of booking consultations,” she said. “I can show you the fabrics I have and the different outsources of companies I use to come up with your perfect look.”

@KrisColeTheBrand and on Twitter @KrisColethatB, Facebook at Kris Cole.

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