PORT ST. LUCIE — Kalle Jackson’s life changed when her husband bought her a sewing machine for Mother’s Day seven years ago.
“Fashion saved my life,” Jackson said.
Sewing and designing clothing helped Jackson through her depression and, in less than a decade, allowed her to create something beyond her wildest dreams.
“To know that I’m here in seven years is absolutely amazing,” Jackson said. “Because now I’m thinking, ‘OK, if I can do this in seven (years), then what am I going to be doing in 15 or 20?'”
Jackson opened the Maison De Kallee Jackson design center in a storefront in 2022 in western Port St. Lucie. She is the sole designer and has two seamstresses helping her create her gowns, ready-to-wear clothing lines and accessories.
When Stuart attorney Donna DeMarchi was introduced to Jackson three years ago, she found a designer for life.
DeMarchi owns three custom gowns, recalling that the dresses always leave her “feeling like a princess.”
“She puts her love and every dress and you can feel that,” DeMarchi said. “
It can take Jackson as little as six hours to create a gown, she said. She made 133 dresses in 2022 and so far this year she’s topped 200.
Maison De Kallee Jackson, which translates to “House of Kallee Jackson,” is a full-service fashion house, which provides customers with a unique experience, from designing garments to sourcing fabrics to producing the items.
Globetrotting her designs
Jackson was invited to New York Fashion Week for the first time in 2020.
She created 10 French-inspired pieces for the Paris show.
As a designer, her goal is to create timeless pieces of clothing that are still stylish, regardless of the current trends.
“I’d like for you to buy a dress from me and 10 years from now you can still wear that dress because it’s not outdated,” Jackson said.
Next year, Maison De Kallee Jackson has been invited to walk in Milan and South Africa’s fashion weeks.
She will also be competing in Fashion Forward, a television fashion competition in Dubai that features designers worldwide, in February 2024.
“The good thing about Milan is I get the opportunity to go back in 2025 or 2026 and do my own show,” Jackson said. “I’d literally be operating on the level of like Tom Ford.”
To participate in international fashion weeks, designers must be invited by a third party which invites sellers, buyers, stylists and a team to help put together the show.
Investing in her community
Jackson grew up in poverty in Mandeville, Jamaica, and immigrated to Stuart in 2002. In 2015 she moved to Port St. Lucie with her husband and three teenage children.
As a child, she excelled academically, but being poor limited her from indulging in shopping for dresses and shoes like most girls do. This year, she wants to give two prom dresses to two high-achieving, low-income high school girls so they can get the full ” treatment.”
“I know what it is like to be such a good kid in school but you just cannot afford that dress, shoes or even food,” Jackson said. “So I want at least two young women to feel absolutely amazing going to prom. So if I can give a dress, then that’s what I’m going to do.”
Expanding her brand
Prom season begins early for Jackson; she began accepting orders for spring 2024 dresses in October.
While her clients are typically from the area, she has made prom dresses for customers in Pennsylvania and Mississippi.
Jackson wants eventually to open fashion boutiques in Jupiter or Wellington, keeping her design and production center in Port St. Lucie.
Her goal is to have boutiques around the world, but for now, her focus is the Treasure Coast and South Florida.