Seattle native partners with Target on fashion collection, encourages young people to chase after their dreams

Seattle isn’t exactly known as a style capital, but this is where Kahlana Barfield Brown tailored her fashion sense. 

Barfield Brown grew up in the Central District and the hallways of Garfield High School were her first runways. She would show up for class in DIY designs and is grateful for family embracing some of her early fashion choices.

"It really started as a child," said Barfield Brown. "I would make my own little outfits. I would cut my little skirts. I would take shirts and wrap them around my body like a little dress. I was always very different and my grandmother was truly my style icon. I just felt she was someone who put her best foot forward every time she stepped out. She took a lot of pride in the way she looked. Our play dates we would go shopping in downtown Seattle to Nordstrom."

Grandma’s inspiration led Kahlana to pursue a career in fashion and that journey started from very humble beginnings. 

"I started interning at magazines after I graduated from college," said Barfield Brown. "So many of my friends were walking into paying jobs leaving Howard (University) making six-figure salaries. I left Howard the day after I graduated and moved to New York. Started interning for Essence magazine and I was making $15 dollars a day. It was a food stipend. It wasn’t even an hour; it was a day."

The grind eventually paid off. Barfield Brown worked her way up to becoming the beauty director of InStyle magazine. Then she noticed a shift happening with the publishing world moving digital. She used social media to raise her profile establishing herself as the brand, ultimately leading to a lucrative nationwide partnership with Target.

Kahlana Barfield Brown with actress Kerry Washington.  (Kahlana Barfield Brown)

"It brings me so much joy," said Barfield Brown. "I couldn’t have ever dreamed of creating something that would touch so many women. It makes me emotional often because I’m just like wow I didn’t see this for myself. I’ve always been very confident. I knew I had the ability to do something like this. But I didn’t know that I would be able to touch so many people." 

Kahlana also makes it a point to tell her story, to inspire others. 

"If there’s anything I want to do now it’s to encourage young people to take a chance on themselves. You have a dream. Don’t ever dim your light. Believe in yourself. Don’t let anyone force their dreams upon you. Whatever it is you want to do, you can do it. And you really can design your own path."