A US veteran turned fashion designer, Kelly Cooper combined her passions for giving back to others and her keen sense of style to fill a gap in the market after not finding sensibly-priced and uniquely designed clothes that both she and her daughter liked. The result was Tomato Superstar, a line of clothing that not only helps girls’ feel confident in being themselves but also gives back to an important cause, a US based non-profit dedicated to ending gendercide in India, called The Invisible Girl Project. Learn more about what inspired her new line…
Hometown: Middletown, NY
First job: I was a cashier at a grocery store chain in NY called ShopRite. I was only 14 and loved working with people from an early age.
Favorite AZ restaurant: Marigold Maison in Paradise Valley. I just love the ambience and eclectic decor! I also love Indian food because of its many different flavors. You can’t get bored eating there!
Person who has impacted your life the most: I would have to say my daughter, Hannah. She is my first child so she changed my life from the second she was born. As did my son Josiah, who was born a few years later. Soon after having Hannah, I resigned from a very high-paying, fulfilling job in DC because the thought of missing any of her important milestones was devastating. Having kids not only changed my heart but my priorities and I love in ways I never knew possible; it has truly put my life in perspective. One of the reasons I started this business is so I could align my career with my children and Hannah is the one who started it all.
Your biggest accomplishment in your eyes: My biggest accomplishment I would say is serving my country. It wasn’t easy being a woman in the military. I faced a lot of obstacles and difficult situations but learned from everything and became a stronger woman because of it.
The biggest obstacle you have overcome: The biggest obstacle I have overcome I would say is starting this business from the bottom up while parenting full time. It’s been an arduous task and it’s taken a long time but I’m making it happen! My husband and kids have been such a big part of everything so they feel such a sense of accomplishment as well.
Someone who inspires you: Malala Yousafzai inspires me. She’s an activist for female education and a Nobel Prize laureate at the age of 19. Her advocacy for women’s and girl’s rights is very inspiring. It’s become an international movement!
Favorite quote: “Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.” – Coco Chanel
Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: Be patient and learn from the many mistakes you will likely make. I also advise you to work with a mentor with a solid background in the fashion industry. Fashion design isn’t only about the artistic, fun side of designing clothes. There is an entire merchandising side to the business that will either make you or break you.
What makes someone fabulous: I think when a person radiates humility, it makes them fabulous. Truly humble people can make others relax in their presence as they exude a non-judgmental vibe that I find refreshing.
Learn more about Kelly Cooper’s charitable clothing line Tomato Superstar at tomatosuperstar.com.
Photo Credit: Eva Reyerson Photography