Live Your Dreams (LYD) Star: Michelle Kleineweber

Each week we will introduce you to our (LYD) Live Your Dream Stars. These awesome women are living their dream. Through their stories, we hope to inspire you to live your dreams.

Christina J Photography Spring 2013 KCFW-1

What do you do currently and how did you get here?

I am a local Kansas City fashion designer. I have always been interested in fashion so I took some classes at Penn Valley Community College with the intention to further my skills. I had a professor who really encouraged me to continue on with the program. So I did. And I ended up with my associate’s degree in fashion design and merchandising. Since graduation I’ve been in Kansas City Fashion Week five times. I’ve been in Omaha Fashion Week and numerous other fashion shows throughout the city.

How has being from Kansas City – an area not particularly known for its fashion industry – affected your career?

Kansas City is a really cool niche for fashion. You wouldn’t know it if you weren’t aware of it but once you dive into you find a community that is really encouraging and helpful. It’s not nearly as cutthroat as New York.

What has been the “highlight” of your career thus far? Perhaps a specific moment, rewarding result, or exciting ‘project.’

Definitely the first time I got into Kansas City Fashion Week was really cool. Just this past August was my first time in Omaha Fashion Week. This was exciting because it has been going on a lot longer than Kansas City Fashion Week. They are also a little more selective about their designers. And since I was from out of town it was a little more difficult to get in because I don’t have the repertoire with their committee. So that was really cool to be a part of.


Do you believe in specific moments or points in time when your purpose just clicks? If so, what has been one of your ‘aha’ moments? How did you seize that moment?

Well for me it was definitely gradual.  If you would have told me I was going to be a fashion designer I would have never believed it. I didn’t have a whole lot of experience with it before I started my classes. But it’s been very cool. Those little confidence boosters, little wins kept building and I kept trying new things and it’s been a rush, and a great journey.

Who has been helpful in supporting you and your dream? This could be a specific person or an organization or institution.

My friends would definitely be the most helpful. They have been my biggest backers. They actually bought me my current sewing machine because my other one died in the middle of a project.

There have also been professors along the way who have been very helpful. I couldn’t have done it without my first professor who encouraged me to  join the program. There have been other professors that have helped me hone my skills too. There was also the CEO of Kansas City Fashion Week who came to my first fashion show and has been very kind and encouraging of my work. He told me not give up even though sometimes it’s hard.

Have you ever been fired from a job? If not, what was the most challenging obstacle that you faced? How did you handle it?

My first challenge was definitely confidence. I didn’t have a lot of confidence when I first got into it. I wasn’t sure that I would be able to participate in shows or make whole collections. Making a collection alone is a daunting task.

The next challenge was definitely funding. It costs money to travel to shows and to be entered into shows and before you even get to the shows it takes time and money for supplies and garment making.

I had people along the way encourage me. Seeing the crowds reaction at my shows and just getting that feedback and constructive criticism has helped me along the way as well. Getting accepted into shows and getting a little bit more well known has helped me work through my challenges. As far as money is concerned,  I’ve had to get kind of creative. Some of my pieces have been made out of curtains or old bed sheets, which sounds kind of weird but sometimes the fabric of a curtain inspires me so I’m able to build off of that and put it into my collections.

If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice what would you say?

I would say don’t be afraid and just do it. Don’t be so hesitant.

What are the attributes that you believe are most important for young women to have in order to stand out and find success?

Confidence is essential. And having people to back you and support you is the most important thing.

If you could share just one piece of advice to all young girls what would it be?

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. It’s going to happen. It is part of the process so you should embrace it. A mistake doesn’t mean that you failed; it means that you’re actually trying.

Want more great inspiration? Stay in-the-know with great tips from our Chicsters and LYD Stars on our Facebook  and Twitter. Who are your favorite inspiring young women? Share with us in the comments below. 

Head on over to 1,000 Dreams Fund to learn how to get funding for your dreams!