Not only does this designer call one of the most exclusive design residency programs in the country home, she does so with no formal design degree.
Alyssa Kahle is the uber-talented owner and designer of Alyssa Kristin, a Chicago-based bridal design company. Kahle earned her bachelor’s in Accounting at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Business. She always wanted to be a designer, so she took a few fashion courses in college, including color theory and fashion illustration.
After earning her bachelor’s degree, Kahle sewed little gifts for her family in her free time. She found sewing fascinating, and delved into deconstructing garments to see how they were made. And after meeting the man of her dreams, she had a wedding to plan but couldn’t find the right dress. So unlike most women who search endlessly for the perfect gown, Kahle took it upon herself to make her own wedding dress. This entailed painstaking research and constant hours of hand-stitching patterns.
The impeccable dress Kahle wore at her wedding was ultimately the catalyst of what is now Alyssa Kristin. After getting hitched, she soon thereafter learned of an amazing program called the Chicago Fashion Incubator. This fashion design residency gives designers two years at the State Street Macy’s to develop their fashion designs, and thus begin successful businesses. The program accepts designers of all backgrounds, from self-taught to formally trained in fashion school.
However, the application to the Chicago Fashion Incubator required Kahle to submit five of her fully developed designs. Kahle only had her wedding dress, so she took on the grueling task of making four more dresses in just three weeks. This meant sleeping very little and not seeing her husband. “You have to be overly optimistic to the point where people think you’re crazy, and you have to keep thinking positive until you turn your vision into a reality.” But her blood, sweat and tears paid off, because she was joyfully accepted into the program.
What makes Alyssa Kristin a unique company is Kahle’s insistence on building a design around a bride’s own favorite feature. Whether a collarbone or back, Kahle lets a bride choose the dress silhouette and anything her heart desires from pockets to removable elements like skirts or straps, so she can go from wedding to reception in a snap.
Kahle wants Alyssa Kristin to be in four boutiques by end of year. As she says to any aspiring designers, “Never give up, it’s not going to be easy. Keep your head up and keep working, it’s all going to pay off.” Her next collection is named Feel the Love, which was inspired by glamorous fabric and embellishments, combined with what women need in a functional wedding gown. And if Kahle’s exceptional designs thus far are any indication, this will be the first of many highly anticipated collections.