ENTREPRENEUR: Building Her Brand
BY JENN BERGIN | PHOTO BY TAWNI BANNISTER
While twenty-somethings often find themselves in entry-level jobs or barhopping the weekend away, Kiley Miltsch has already found her passion.
At just 21 years-old, she has created a name for herself. And that name is Kiley Kouture.
In fifth grade, while many girls were still dressing their Barbie dolls, Kiley was dressing herself in clothes by designer Betsey Johnson. With hot pink highlights streaking her long blonde hair and an eclectic sense of style that she describes as “over the top,” there is not much in the fashion world that Kiley considers out of her reach.
“One day I can be punk, the next day I will be feeling super girly,” she says. “That’s the thing about fashion – it’s all about feeling great. And everyday you can be somebody else.”
She already has a fashion following on Twitter and the photo-sharing social network Instagram, where she posts images of outfits she has styled and trends she loves. Kiley’s foray into the world of a fashionista will continue with her women’s clothing boutique Kouture, scheduled to open in Fall 2012 in the Culver Road Armory.
“I want mothers and daughters shopping together,” she says. “I feel like I’ve chosen a range of really great pieces – the kind of things you’re still thinking about after you leave the store and just need to have.”
Kouture as not just a store – it’s a lifestyle, says Kiley. She describes the Rochester-based boutique as a platform to build the “Kiley Kouture” brand, which will include an online retail shop, boutiques in other cities, and her work as a fashion blogger, personal shopper and stylist.
Her big dreams began to take shape when she started working at L’Avant Garbe, the former Pittsford clothing boutique, as a sophomore in high school.
“I was begging the owner for a job there in 6th grade,” she says. “I would go in with all these dollars I had saved up and buy Juicy (Couture). Getting that job was like a dream – I loved every second.”
When she graduated from high school, Kiley went with the L’Avant Garbe team on a buying trip to New York City. The experience convinced her that she was destined for a career in fashion.
“There is nothing else,” she says. “This is what I am meant to do.”
While hordes of fashionistas eagerly head to Los Angeles or Manhattan to begin a career in fashion, Kiley has her roots firmly planted in Rochester. Her close-knit family is a source of constant inspiration and support. Kiley inherited a great work ethic and determined focus from her father, a successful businessman who is helping her navigate the basics of building a business.
Still, Kiley’s biggest motivation is building a legacy for the next generation of Kouture – her four nieces. The 3 year-old has already claimed all of her high heels!
“I want to make people look and feel good,” Kiley says. “That’s really what it’s all about.”
Check out Kiley’s blog, fashion pics and sales at www.shopkouture.com