Katherine Miles of Scio wins a NFIB young entrepreneur award.
Childhood Passion Leads to Designs on Fashion Career
Katherine Miles sold her first wedding dress at 12 years old.
But before she launched her business, Kate Mile’s Couture, she began honing her dressmaking skills on the American Girl dolls she played with in elementary school. But it didn’t take long before customers wanted her to take her skills to the real world.
Miles developed her skills at such a young age because her grandma began teaching her how to sew at age 4, when she was barely big enough to reach the pedal on the sewing machine.
“I couldn’t really reach the floor, but I made it work,” said Miles of Scio, Oregon, who is this year’s NFIB/Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Portland/Vancouver Young Entrepreneur Award winner.
Clients reach out to Miles through her self-named website, and that’s when the real work begins. Miles has her clients send her “inspiration pictures” so she has an idea of what they are looking for. Then she sketches out an idea for the dress, and once the client approves a design she goes to buy materials.
After that, there are a series of fittings, and finally, the finished dress. This process can take anywhere from a few days to several months, depending on the customer, Miles said. She’s created a wild variety of dresses over her six-year career, but one that sticks out for her is a dress that she glued peacock feathers all over.
Her designs have already taken her further than a lot of people who pursue fashion. Her dresses have been featured in LA Fashion Week and Vancouver Fashion Week, she said. And she has no plans to stop anytime soon.
Miles will be attending the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York to study business and fashion design, she said. While going to school, she said she plans to continue her business. Eventually, she would like to open her own boutique.
The fashionista has simple advice for other young, determined entrepreneurs: love what you do.
“Every day when I wake up, I feel like I get to go to work,” Miles said. “I’m not just making clothes; I’m making art.”