I have always loved fashion. My father runs and owns Formal Fashions, the leading outfitter for music group formalwear nationwide, so I grew up in the industry. At a very young age I was shadowing him, learning the ins and outs of the business and developing a passion for the fashion industry. From creating new design styles to designing their annual catalog and learning to provide exceptional customer service, I could only dream that my “lifelong internship” would transform into my own company!
If you go to the K Couture website, www.kcouture.com and click on the “About Us” this is how the story begins.
With Father’s Day just around the corner, I thought it might be fun to introduce the man behind Formal Fashions and K Couture! I couldn’t have done this without you Dad!
Kayla: As long as I can remember, Formal Fashions was where you worked. How did the idea for a formalwear business come about?
Keith: I started in the formalwear business when I purchased Red Carpet Tuxedo on Fifth Avenue in downtown Scottsdale. At that time, I designed and built custom homes and ran a carpentry frame and finish crew for commercial buildings and custom homes. I also ran other crews for industrial building tenant improvements. I would run my construction businesses from 5am to 1pm each day. Then I would go to work in the tuxedo store until 6pm to learn that business. Over time, schools would come into the tuxedo shop and ask for used formalwear for their choirs. This gave me the idea to start Formal Fashions Performers Attire.
Kayla: Commercial and custom home building to formalwear…these are so different, what made you choose formalwear?
Keith: We needed a steady income. Home building was great, but once a project was complete, it would then be another 6 months before making money again. With a young family, we wanted more consistency.
Kayla: So that’s how you started with men’s formalwear? What about the women’s fashions?
Keith: We started the women’s line because the school directors that were getting their tuxedos from us asked us for women’s apparel. They asked, we listened!
Kayla: How old were you when you took your role in Formal Fashions as we know it?
Keith: I was 31 years old. You, Kayla, wouldn’t be born for 7 more years.
Kayla: Were family members involved at the start of the business?
Keith: Originally it was just myself, Barb (your mom) and Adeline (your grandmother) and your grandmother’s friend…eventually sisters, kids, spouses, nieces, nephews and even grandkids would join the fun!
Kayla: What prompted you to make the transition from the Scottsdale business to looking for and purchasing the Tempe location in 1978?
Keith: The store in Scottsdale was a retail location so when we decided to start manufacturing garments we looked for a location close to home that could have room so we could produce formalwear as well as hold an office. 1978 Formal Fashions Inc. started a business providing menswear and formalwear and by popular demand added ladies gowns, dresses, blouses and skirts. At some point, in 2000, we just ran out of room. We expanded and added 12,000 square feet to our existing building/warehouse.
Kayla: How many employees did you have back then at the start of FFI verses today?
Keith: At the start there were 4 of us. Now during our busy season we have over 80 employees. We pride ourselves in attention to detail and excellent customer service, just as it was when we began.
Today, 2017-18 Formal Fashions Incorporated in Tempe, AZ has a full staff of customer service associates who take orders from all over the country. We have also established a loyal base of international customers as well. We design and create our own patterns and dresses in house from start to finish…taking orders, design, cut, bundle, sew, pack and ship these orders all from one building here at our 22,000 square foot headquarters in Tempe, Arizona USA.
K Couture started with bridesmaids as a primary focus, expanding to offering menswear matching and coordinating pieces – one stop shop!
This is for you Dad. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, you are my inspiration. You have set the precedent for hard work and determination, always encouraging me to not be afraid to find my passion and follow my dreams. Thank you for your loving and unconditional support, teaching and guiding me along the way. Most of all, thank you for your dedication to family. You have always looked out for me and I will always look up to you!