In case you don't know who Kelli Martin is, she is a designer, shop owner, seamstress and reluctant retail queen. She can take an item from the thrift store you'd sooner throw away then wear into something you would give your right arm to own. She is also really friggin' hot, just so you know.
Kelli Martin has been designing forever, basically. Growing up with her grandmothers who let her just be who she was helped her find her way to fashion at a very young age, young enough in fact that she doesn't really remember quite when she started. She spent her adolescence listening to punk and going to shows in outfits she made herself out of thrift store finds and fabric remnants.
After living it up for a while post- high school she woke up one morning at 19, decided life was passing her by and she needed to get on with a career of some sort. Next thing she knew, she was on her way to the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles. While in the program, she received a serious honor when she recieved a scholarship from Bob Mackie that allowed her to present a full-on fashion show at FIDM's Annual Fashion Gala, thus launching her own line, Antilabel, www.anti-label.com .
Kelli returned to Columbus after her graduation from FIDM with a degree in Advance Design. After designing for Antilabel, selling one of a kind items on eBay and even working for others over the years, she decided to open her own shop here in town, Black Market. She appeared in Season 5 of Project Runway in 2008, where she designed the dress that won the first challenge but was off the show by the fifth episode. Kelli says the show didn't do much to challange her out look on designing. She still wants to stay true to her vision, drawing on everything from pinup to punk and to make amazing, well-crafted, mostly one of a kind pieces.
Since the show, she has closed her shop but is still working her fanny off. Items from her 2008 collection were featured in the Miss Ohio shoot for C-Bus Magazine.
Kelli Martin with her challenge winner dress
She is currently immersed in designing a new collection for fall of 2010. She still occasionally sells items on eBay and is forever being scolded by others for not setting her prices higher. She isn't interested in starting any mass producing any time soon. Having participated in producing a line before, she doesn't enjoy the aspects of creating the same item over and over or the fact that once the garment is out of her hands it's quality plummets. She also enjoys knowing people have a unique piece literally noone else has.