Growing business spurs fashion designer Tomlin's move

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012, 8:57 p.m.

Kiya Tomlin needed some space.

And she found the perfect spot.

After years of working part time from home, Tomlin has taken the leap and moved into a larger and more visible location to create her one-of-a-kind fashions.

“It's time,” says the wife of Steelers coach Mike Tomlin. “I've outgrown my home studio. I need a space where clients can feel comfortable dropping in, whether to place an order or just watch the process. I love this new space.”

Her new fashion home, Kiya Tomlin, Pittsburgh LLC, is inside Meadeworth Interiors in East Liberty.

“We are thrilled to welcome Kiya into her own space here at Meadeworth,” says Sue Anderson, owner of Meadeworth Interiors. “Working together on an interior design project in her home, Kiya and I developed a nice relationship and, through a series of conversations, realized that an empty showroom area in my studio would be a perfect location for her to expand her design business.”

Their professions are similar in that both provide a custom experience for clients who appreciate high-end merchandise.

“I am still getting used to it,” says Tomlin, a mother of three. “One of the first days with the new studio, I was getting my children ready for school, and I told them to hurry up because I had to get to work, and my son laughed. And then he said, ‘That is funny mom. You have to get to work.' ”

Tomlin loves her work, she says.

“I make women look and feel fabulous for the most important occasions in their life,” she says. “I specialize in tailoring my designs for her exact body type. Unlike a typical dressmaker, I do a custom fitting analysis for each client that allows me to create a one-of-a-kind piece that suits her body perfectly. She can even use those results as guidelines for buying clothing off the rack, too. While I love focusing on the details and the design experience, I want her to walk away with a unique piece that she'll look stunning in and feel confident wearing.“

Tomlin created the dress Greta Rooney wore for the Steelers Style 2012 Fashion Show.

“Kiya is awesome,” Rooney says. “She is such a wonderful designer, and so humble about it. She listens to you. I was in New York recently and saw some dresses I liked, but then I decided Kiya could make any of those dresses and make them better. I trust her, and will wear what she designs for me and know it will be elegant.”

With the move to the new location, Tomlin is able to bring her signature, customizable sheath dresses to the public.

“The sheath is the most universally flattering dress style,” she says. “Its simple silhouette is timeless and versatile. It is the perfect choice for every occasion, from day to office to evening.”

Her design concept customizes a fitted dress by offering options in fabric, necklines, sleeve style and hem length, according to the client's figure and taste.

Tomlin also offers limited-edition designs that are made to order. She uses luxurious fabrics in small quantities to keep her designs exclusive. She signs and numbers each design, because she wants each dress to have its own personality and for each client to feel confident that her dress is special. Prices for the sheath package start at $650.

Tomlin prefers a one-on-one experience so she can give each client personalized attention. She designs for women of all ages, shapes and sizes, including children.

Her space is decorated with photos of some of her designs, as well as two antique couches — one 1950s piece she found and a second that was made to match — and sparkling chandeliers from Meadeworth.

“They are perfect lighting for me,” Tomlin says.

She has racks of gorgeous fabrics, which she buys from all over the world.

“Kiya is amazingly talented,” Anderson says. “She has such an eye for fashion. It is totally amazing what she does. And she is a really good person, so it is easy to be in the same space with her.”

Wearing a one-of-a-kind piece, you don't have to worry about showing up and seeing another woman wearing the same dress and wearing it better, Tomlin says.

“That is a nightmare,” she says.

Kiya Tomlin, Pittsburgh LLC, is inside Meadeworth Interiors, 11 Penn Circle West, East Liberty. Open by appointment. Details: 412-345-1135 or

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at or 412-320-7889.

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