Baton Rouge’s KiYada Upshaw Named to
Top 10 Emerging Designer List at New Orleans Fashion Week

by Morgan Lawrence
Tribune Staff

Emerging fashion designer KiYada Upshaw.
Since she was nine years old designing outfits on stick figures in Lafayette, KiYada Upshaw had big dreams of making an impact in the fashion industry. Now, armed with a Bachelor’s degree in textiles, apparel design & merchandising and a minor in business from Louisiana State University that she earned in 2015, the 23-year-old emerging fashion designer has the brains and the talent to survive the cut-throat fashion world.

Formerly known as KiYada Jenkins, Upshaw married her college sweetheart, Ryan Upshaw, last December. The couple lives in Baton Rouge; and they are proud parents to Scooter, their beloved black Labrador retriever. Of course, anyone who visits Upshaw’s blog, KUpshaw Weekly knows this.

She created her fashion blog to build her online presence, and to invite her followers to witness her journey as woman, wife and fashion designer.

“Most people talk about how they made it after they’ve made it,” she writes on her blog, but Upshaw’s transparency allows her customers to get a piece of her with every piece they buy. She hopes to inspire those entrepreneurs figuring out their way so they can make it happen too.
“I want to be open and transparent for people to know who I really am and to trust me when they make a purchase.”

Also, she wants to prove to the entrepreneurial woman in any field that she can successfully have the career and the family simultaneously. Not saying that it is easy, Upshaw explains, “A lot of people don’t think you can be in fashion and have a family. I’m learning, and I can make it work.”

Yet Upshaw is not afraid to admit that going from recent college graduate to wife to emerging designer and taking part in one of New Orleans’ fashion industry’s most anticipated seasons has bee tough. Fashion Week was held in mid-March. Despite not completing her collection in time before, she still managed to send 12 models down the runway in her designs and made it to the Top 10 of New Orleans Fashion Week Emerging Designers Competition.

“Failure unlocks new knowledge,” Upshaw says. “It’s a reminder to keep going.” Although she did not finish her collection for New Orleans Fashion Week, she was proud of herself for showcasing her first collection and pushing her limits in the ferociously fast-paced environment of fashion.

Upshaw says she is inspired by the millennial on the go, especially young women fresh out of college. She is dedicated to the free spirit of her designs, which are comfortable, functional, stylish and professional for young women of all shapes and backgrounds. Upshaw stitches every piece of clothing by herself. She uses vibrant colors, unique patterns, earth tones and non-conventional fabrics so every woman can gravitate to her own style.

“Everything’s a fad and I don’t want my stuff to go away quickly,” she says.

Upshaw admires celebrated female fashion designers like Tory Burch and Rebecca Minkoff. Both of these fashion powerhouses are mothers who built their brands and preserved their personal lives in the fashion industry, which ultimately gives Upshaw the hope to pursue her dream. And she is mentored by fellow independent female designer, Undra Celeste. Based in New York City, Celeste has 12 years of experience as an entrepreneur in fashion and she runs her fashion brand, Undra Celeste New York for the modern woman with a timeless and contemporary style, similar to Upshaw.

Celeste worked very closely with Upshaw on her collection for the 2017 New Orleans Fashion Week.

“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in life so far,” said Upshaw.

Like most emerging designers, Upshaw would love to show her collections at New York Fashion Week; but she is aware of the constant change of consumer’s shopping.

“Stores are closing and a lot of emerging designers have more low key presentations for fashion bloggers, stylists, family and friends,” she says.

If she could design for anyone, Upshaw would love to dress UK pop singer, Arlissa. She used the singer’s song “Sticks & Stones” in her fashion show. Upshaw also auditioned last year for the fashion designer’s competition show, Project Runway.

Every day is an achievement for Upshaw. From that nine-year-old girl creating designs for her stick figure models to the poised young woman competing in fashion shows and presenting her collections, she has the confidence to continue down the intense road of fashion. Her desire is to become the owner of a power house minority brand eventually turning into brick and mortar stores across the globe.

Ultimately, Upshaw sows her passion into every stitch so every woman can feel like herself. If you’re interested in collaborating or shopping, send an email to or visit

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