MENOMONIE — UW-Stout student Kalia Moua is living out a nearly lifelong dream.
The Eau Claire resident has created a 20-piece line of spring clothing that an international fashion company has agreed to produce and sell.
Moua, who is majoring in fashion and retail, designed the line for SHEIN, a trendy, fast fashion e-commerce platform that offers women’s wear as well as men’s apparel and children’s clothes, accessories, shoes, bags and other fashion items. The company ships to over 220 countries and regions worldwide. With websites supporting the United States, Spain, France, Russia, Germany, Italy, Australia and the Middle East, SHEIN ships from many globally positioned warehouses.
“Fashion has always been a part of me,” Moua said. “Since I was about 7 years old, I knew the only thing I could see myself doing in the future was something with clothes. Until this day, I still do not see myself doing anything else but fashion.”
She traces her love of fashion to growing up in Eau Claire about a block from a thrift store, where she would shop with her family or even by herself.
“I would buy the most random clothing that all my siblings would tease me about how weird I was,” recalled Moua, who continues to seek unique items.
After making a thrift store find, Moua would alter the clothing, sometimes combining garments, to make unique pieces that expressed her fashion interests.
“My creations as a kid were rarely a success because I didn’t know how to sew and I was too impatient to hand sew,” Moua said. “I fondly remember that I would always try to alter my clothes to fit me or remove trims like a zipper and then add a newer and bolder zipper. I also recall shortening a maxidress into a miniskirt.”
After starting at Chippewa Valley Technical College to complete her general education classes, Moua transferred to UW-Stout to earn her bachelor’s degree.
“I picked UW-Stout because it is affordable and it was the closest school to me that has a fashion design program,” Moua said. “I love all the technical concepts I am learning in all of my apparel classes. I believe the knowledge I have, and will continue to gain from these classes, is what employers are looking for.”
Last fall Moua was told by a friend who used to work as a stylist for SHEIN about an opportunity to collaborate on a collection, and Moua quickly contacted SHEIN.
“They liked my portfolio and wanted to work with me,” Moua said, noting that SHEIN targets young and stylish women with affordable clothing. “I sent them a total of about 20 designs, and they agreed to produce all of them. The theme I wanted to follow was bright spring colors that shout out fierce, fun and flirty.”
Moua’s clothing line is named Sayndo. It is short for do what you say and say what you do. That was a motto her father, Nhia Shoua Moua, who died in 2017, lived by and instilled in his children. “It means to stick with what you promise and follow your passions,” Moua said, noting she has nine siblings.
One of her favorite pieces in the collection is a floral one-sleeve glove dress, Moua said. “I absolutely love this dress because of how sexy it is, yet fun, because of the spring-inspired floral print. I got to pick this print along with the colors that the print would be dyed. It was very fun.”
Another favorite is a backless blazer that has tints of yellow and a shawl collar.
Belinda Banike, UW-Stout’s fashion and retail program director and lecturer, said Moua is a great student who is committed to her coursework and continually produces high-quality work.
“Kalia is a very talented designer,” Banike said. “Her design sense has grown and improved over the time I have known her. Her designs are sophisticated while still feeling fresh and youthful.”
Students often work with companies as part of their internships, Banike said.
“To have the opportunity to design a few pieces under (her) own name in collaboration with a company is quite rare and a unique experience,” Banike said. “It was a great opportunity for her and one that speaks to her abilities and talents as a designer.”
Moua said much of the work for the collection was done in the fall, including the concepts and designs. She sketched and used Illustrator to create technical designs to share with the SHEIN production team so they could make prototypes. So far, she been using social media to self-promote the collection. She gets a commission from sales.
Having her collection out and for sale is surreal, Moua said, emphasizing how thankful she is to SHEIN for the opportunity. It can be found at SHIEN.com.
“I honestly continued to scream out of nowhere throughout this entire journey because I had so much excitement and was in such disbelief that this was all happening,” she said. “When my collection went live, I had never been so happy and proud of myself, and it is definitely a milestone in my career.”
Moua said her dream job is to create, style and photograph clothing of her own design.
“I want to create a brand that represents artists like me that love to make a statement,” she said.