Living the Dream: Start a Clothing Line

Write it down. Make it happen. Live your dream. How Fresia Rodriguez became a fashion designer.
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Fresia Rodriguez
Alexandria, Virginia
Age 33
Owner of a fashion design label

My Goal
To start my own clothing line

How I Did It

I've been in love with fashion ever since I can remember. In kindergarten, when my friends were all watching The Smurfs, I was transfixed by CNN's Style with Elsa Klensch. As a teen and young adult I pored over Glamour and Vogue magazines, but those fashion trends weren't made for women with curves -- many designers don't produce anything larger than size 12. Fortunately, my mom was a very talented seamstress and she taught me how to make my own clothes. After college I decided to become a journalist, partly because I had no idea how to turn my love of fashion into a career.

It wasn't until my husband, Oscar, had begun his second tour of duty in Iraq as a Marine that I began to take stock of the choices I had made. It hit really hard that life can change in a single instant -- it's a mistake to put your dreams on hold permanently. I began to take a few tentative steps toward reaching mine, researching the fashion industry and checking out schools. When Oscar came home, in March 2007, I enrolled in the master's program in fashion design at the Academy of Art University, in San Francisco, which I could do online at night while keeping my job as an editor. I followed up with business classes to learn accounting and marketing. I knew what my niche was going to be: clothing in sizes 14 to 24 with an emphasis on style. I really wanted my work to make a difference in women's lives -- and I believed in that enough to sink my savings into it. In 2008 I launched my company, Kingley & Posh. Kingley is an old family name and Posh conveys the idea behind my designs: sophisticated and classic clothing with a bit of an edge.

What I Learned

I figured out quickly that I had to stick to a tight budget, so I did everything myself, from production to marketing to sales. To my surprise, orders started rolling in. Now my line sells in around 20 boutiques nationwide as well as in my online store (kingleyandposh.com) and in Fashion Envy, my shop in Alexandria, Virginia. I've also discovered that sleep is overrated. Since I started the business I've been getting up at 4:30 a.m. and going to bed at around midnight. But the worst day is still a good day, because I'm doing the thing I love most.

The Essentials
- Good accounting skills
- An eye for style
- A great pattern maker

 

Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, March 2010.

 

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