Fashion designer Kiya Tomlin adds style and support to Etna


The decorative drains along Butler Street in Etna have a carob leaf pattern and are displayed in a winding path. Their purpose is to be a water feature that collects rain and keeps it out of the sewer system.

It’s no surprise that Kiya Tomlin noticed them when she first visited the city – she’s a keen-eyed fashion designer.

“I like the decorative rainwater drains recessed into the sidewalks,” she said last Monday in her shop, Kiya Tomlin. “They give the neighborhood a charming atmosphere.”

The fact that Tomlin based his business on Mount Etna has been positive for the growth of the borough, located 10 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh.

Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review

Fashion designer Kiya Tomlint in her boutique and workspace at Etna.

Mount Etna covers one square mile along the banks of the Allegheny River. Once an industrial city, it has “reemerged as a residential community with a very diverse commercial base.” like that of the district website proudly asserts.

There are over 160 companies.

“I love this area,” Tomlin said. “It’s really grown since I’ve been here. I’m thrilled to be at the forefront of this. It is wonderful to see what is happening on Etna now.

Tomlin said the city embraced her.

On her first visit, she said she immediately understood that this was the perfect place to design, manufacture and sell her line of women’s clothing in one space.

Tomlin started his business in the basement of his house. She then moved to an area inside Meadeworth Interiors in East Liberty before opening her own store a few blocks away on Broad Street.

She purchased the current building on Butler Street in 2018. The space, previously an artist’s private studio, is approximately 6,000 square feet.

“I saw so much potential,” Tomlin said.

After moving in, Tomlin held a fashion show and paraded models on the runway – in the center of the street.

“We are obviously delighted to have Kiya here,” said Etna Borough manager Mary Ellen Ramage. “She has been a tremendous asset to the community. She cares about everyone.

Extend its reach

Each piece is drawn, modeled, cut, sewn and tailored to people, not measurements, she said. The clothes are made of bamboo, cotton and spandex.

“Women deserve options as amazing as they are,” Tomlin said. “They inspire me to create clothes that are easy, flattering, fashionable and functional. Clothes that are meant to spend more time on real bodies than on hangers.

She produces in small quantities to reduce waste. Tomlin donated clothing to help those affected by a hurricane and took leftover pieces of fabric and recycled them into neckerchiefs, therapy dolls and tactile pieces to comfort hospice patients and children with special needs.

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Courtesy of Asia Margo Photography

This blue is a new shade from the “I Am Woman” spring/summer collection created by designer Kiya Tomlin. Stylist: Dominika Bronner Styling

A mother of three with her husband, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, she recently released her latest collection inspired by Emmy singer Meli’s ballad “I Am Woman.”

She swapped the typical soft tones and floral patterns for deeply saturated hues.

There are eight pieces.

Prices range from $89 to $229 and items are available in sizes XS-XXL.

When Tomlin receives a request to donate auction items, instead of donating a t-shirt or sweatshirt, she donates a private shopping event where 10-12 people can visit the space and make a free wine tasting, and she will donate 10% of their purchases to a charity of their choice.

Various groups have held events in space.

“It’s an experiment,” Tomlin said. “They can shop around and we’ll be there to help them with fittings and help them find the style that suits them best.”

Collaborate

Tomlin collaborated with stylist Darnell McLaurin, co-producer of Pittsburgh’s FashionAFRICANA and co-founder of Utopia Model Agency along with Pittsburgh fashionista Demeatria Boccella, of Demeatria Boccella Productions, to design the showroom.

Tomlin, McLaurin and Boccella helped produce the Steelers’ annual fashion show.

Tomlin said pandemic-related supply chain issues haven’t affected his business too much. Most of his line is done here. Some fabrics have sometimes been difficult to obtain.

In March 2020, Tomlin began manufacturing face masks for police and other essential workers. She told Ramage that it was therapeutic for her and her team to be able to do something. Tomlin and his team created patterns that appeared on the masks. They made 30,000 masks, some for Highmark and Allegheny Health Network’s one million mask effort.

“It definitely kept us afloat,” Tomlin said. “And it felt good to help others.”

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Courtesy of Asia Margo Photography

Kiya Tomlin has designed an NFL collection of comfortable and stylish apparel perfect for game day. Stylist: Dominika Bronner Styling

Fan Favorites

Tomlin is also expanding its NFL collection for the 2022 season, which started with the Steelers. She is designing seven specific styles, which will be released in the colors of 10 different teams. Their debut is scheduled for August. She said there were requests from non-Steelers fans.

“They might as well dress up on game day,” she said. “That doesn’t mean they’re going to win.”

Tomlin is creating a perfume. She said it was still something she wanted to do and was aiming for a fall launch.

“Like the clothes I design, fragrance is designed to be layered and combined to create something unique for the wearer,” Tomlin said.

Working for Tomlin is wonderful, said associate designer Brittany Meyer of Scott Township, who was Tomlin’s first employee. Tomlin said Meyer was so persistent.

“I learned so much from Kiya,” Meyer said. “She does everything right, down to the smallest detail.”

Kiya Tomlin is located at 338 Butler St., Etna. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is editor of Tribune-Review. You can contact JoAnne at 724-853-5062, jharrop@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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