Inspired to create the best quality garments possible, designer Keti McKenna launched her brand KetiVani in May 2017. After moving from New York City to Denver, McKenna worked as a senior designer at a startup contemporary fashion company in Cherry Creek.
One day, McKenna saw the same fabric she used to design in the window of Garbarini boutique. After walking inside and starting a conversation with the owner, Terri Garbarini, McKenna invited her to look at her collection.
From there, Garbarini asked McKenna to design and produce private label garments — soon after, Garbarini boutique started selling KetiVani branded merchandise. Since then, McKenna’s business continues to grow and is “among the top ten vendors at Garbarini,” McKenna said.
McKenna’s design process begins by finding a good quality but also interesting fabric. From there, she then creates sketches.
“In some cases, Terri gives me an idea of what types of fabrics sell best,” McKenna said. “She has great taste and superb merchandising skills. I continue to learn a lot from her.”
Following the fabric and sketches, she then begins to draft a pattern which then turns into a sample. From there, she records step by step instructions on how to sew her designs and sends them to overseas factories.
“I work with a person in Denver who does my local production and I spent time training her. She does excellent work,” McKenna said. “Sometimes I cut my production work myself at Denver Design Incubator.”
Manufacturing can be a very complicated process and so in order to help other local upcoming designers, McKenna created an Instagram account that shares tips and tricks about manufacturing and a Youtube channel to share sewing techniques.
It’s through her intricate design process that has helped her brand gain recognition. Launching in March, McKenna was picked to design and develop pilot uniforms for the start-up Hydrogen powered aircraft called Flyshare Inc. She created jackets, pants and shirts all approved by the pilots and are currently in production.
“I’m going to meet the pilots and executives in the second week of January. I am very excited about this opportunity,” McKenna said. “I’m keeping my designs a secret, but I’ll post pictures when I meet them.”
In addition to designing for the LA based airline, McKenna hosted a pop up shop at INHERENT. There, she hung up her intricately crafted suits, tops, jackets and dresses around the store. One suit design is made from Dolce and Gabbana fabric decorated with purple flowers and white branches — this garment was showcased at the Denver Art Museum during the Surrey exhibition. Through each design, McKenna prides herself on creating looks that can be layered and worn for any occasion.
“A pop up is a great way to share brand awareness and reach new customers, especially in new towns and neighborhoods. Also, it gives me the opportunity to see if that town is right for my brand,” McKenna said. “Inherent is a great start up brand, with very similar aesthetics to KetiVani.”
As KetiVani continues to grow, McKenna hopes to keep creating small batch designs and manufacturing for a select group of clients and stores.
“The quality of my merchandise is super important and I want to be able to personally oversee that,” McKenna said. “I hope that the Denver fashion community continues to grow so that I can meet my factory minimums and have a presence in more stores in different neighborhoods and towns of Colorado.”