PDT Staff Writer
Bridal gown designs by a Wheelersburg High School graduate, who recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in fashion design from Kent State University, are featured in the latest edition of Sew Beautiful magazine.
“It started when I was younger in 4-H. I joined 4-H at the age of nine,” Kelly Chaffin Williams said. “And by the time I got to high school I was really doing a lot more designing than just getting a pattern and I was making whatever it said to me. I was combining patterns and doing different details, as far as embroidery, and adding embellishments, really allowing my own imagination to be what I actually made, as opposed to just making whatever the pattern called for.”
Kelly competed within 4-H every year. In high school she won several contests with pattern companies.
“I won by making my prom dress,” Williams said.
Winning through Simplicity pattern company’s contest, her work was featured in Threads Magazine.
“I really loved the challenges of being in the contests. It allowed me to get a lot of criticism, good and bad, which helped me, especially in school,” Williams said. “When I went to college for fashion design I think it really helped me have a better understanding, with different opinions from different people. One might really like it, and the next person I face as a judge may think it’s awful. It’s all in the eyes of the beholder.”
Williams not only remembered her roots with her recent shoots, but utilized local talent, from her photographer, Wheelersburg’s Jeremy Reed of Jeremy Reed Photography; and models, Brook Holcomb, Amanda Dehart, and Courtney McGraw all also from Wheelersburg. Photo sessions were done at the Scioto County Courthouse, Kirby’s Flowers and Gifts and an area of Wheelersburg.
“Working with Jeremy was amazing,” Williams said. “In about three days we pulled together models, accessories from It’s In The Bag. Jeremy was willing to do it on a Sunday. And we used the Kirby’s driveway, because the flowers had just bloomed. It was beautiful. So we pretty much pulled it together in three days over Easter weekend last year (2012). The photos turned out fabulous. They turned out wonderful, and he (Reed) did my photos for my wedding, which we shot at the (Scioto County) Courthouse. He has been fabulous.”
Reed specializes in wedding and portrait photography.
Kelly had worked for the last three years in college doing alterations at Davis Bridal, a wedding dress shop.
“In August I was offered a position at Express clothing company, at their corporate headquarters in Columbus in their technical quality management,” Williams said. “So I did a lot of checking things at the store to make sure what we were getting in the store was actually what we were asking for, as far as quality goes.”
In November of 2012, she was offered a position in the men’s graphics department of Express. That’s where she is currently employed.
When the people at Sew Beautiful found at that at the time they were interviewing Kelly for their magazine article, she was in the process of getting married and that she had made her dress, they wanted to include those photos in the article as well.
Wheelersburg is deeply ingrained in Kelly’s life. She played softball for 12 years and represented this area on the 2001 and 2003 World Series Little League softball team. She also danced and tumbled for 12 years and represented Wheelersburg High School in cheerleading.
Kelly is the daughter of Kim Chaffin, who works at Ohio Rehabilitation Services, and Jeff, an accountant with a local construction company. She has a sister, Stephanie, who is a sophomore at Miami University studying engineering, and a brother, Craig, who lives in Portland, Ore., where he works in fiber optics. Kelly is married to Marcus Williams.
Kelly and her mom credit those years of traveling in competition with learning that you do not work independently.
“Every detail of her day is about teamwork,” Kim Chaffin said. “Teams design clothes in very tight and close working conditions. Learning to sew and design is one thing. Learning to work with a team, take criticism, support your coworkers, find solutions, step up to deadlines and offer help, those things are learned while riding the bus to games, sitting on the bench waiting to bat, sweating through practice when you want to give up.”
Williams said she does various kinds of work.
“I’m still doing bridal design on the side. I am working in technical design. My degree was in fashion design, but focusing on technical design, so I really like the technical aspect of it,” Williams said. “We communicate with vendors to get the products that we want, and then, having the opportunity to do as much freelance and bridal on the side is really good right now.”
Kim Chaffin said a lot of people within the community have invested a lot of time and effort in Kelly’s career.
“I think this will make them all very proud,” Kim Chaffin said.
The latest edition of Sew Beautiful magazine is being sold locally at Kroger stores in Wheelersburg and Portsmouth. In most cities book stores carry the magazine, as well as Walmart.
“It’s pretty much everywhere you would find a specialty magazine,” Williams said.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.