From Jamaica to Milford, local designer makes her dream a reality at Connecticut Post mall

Karlene Lindsay-Worrell opens Karlene Lindsay Desings at the Connecticut Post Mall, which she said was the right choice. Pictured from left to right are Ken Sterba, general manater of the CT Post Mall; two models; Lindsay-Worrell, Ben Blake, Mayor; Kathy Kennedy, State Representative (R-119); two models and Simon McDonald, director of Milford Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Karlene Lindsay-Worrell opens Karlene Lindsay Desings at the Connecticut Post Mall, which she said was the right choice. Pictured from left to right are Ken Sterba, general manater of the CT Post Mall; two models; Lindsay-Worrell, Ben Blake, Mayor; Kathy Kennedy, State Representative (R-119); two models and Simon McDonald, director of Milford Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Greg Geiger /Contributed

MILFORD — Since the age of 9, when Karlene Lindsay-Worrell was living in Jamaica, she knew she wanted to become a designer. Now her dream has come true.

Lindsay-Worrell is CEO and head designer at Karlene Lindsay Designs, which has now opened at the Connecticut Post Mall in Suite 1072, between the Macy’s and LA Fitness. Prior to the new Milford location, Lindsay-Worrell had space in West Haven.

“I design all of the dresses and products, and they are all made here in the store,” said Lindsay-Worrell.

Lindsay-Worrell, a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, got her start selling her designs online.

“After I graduated from FIT, I knew I didn’t want to work for anyone else, so I started a website online and was sewing from home,” she added. “A friend of mine had a store in West Haven, so I rented a rack in her space, and that’s when I started to get more people buying my products.”

As more and more people were purchasing her designs, Lindsay-Worrell realized that her business was more of a physical business rather than an online business.

“A couple of years after, my friend closed her store, and I wasn’t going back to having people come into my house, so I had to open a space for them to come,” she said. “I was looking for a studio space, and I found a small little store, and I decided to open my business there.”

The space worked for what Lindsay-Worrell needed, but she said the foot traffic was too slow.

“I was walking around in the mall, and I met a small business owner, and we got to talking for a little bit,” she said. “I decided to look into it to see how much it would be for space here because I thought this would be a better location.”

She said opening in the mall was the right decision.

“Since coming here, I met a lot of people who live in West Haven who didn’t know the store was there,” Lindsay-Worrell said.

Growing up with two older sisters, Lindsay-Worrell said she would get a lot of hand-me-downs from them, and since she was a smaller size, the clothes would frequently be too big for her.

“My grandmother would send me some old fashion styles, and my sisters would laugh at me, so I wanted to start making dresses for myself, so I could start wearing pretty dresses too,” she said.

So at the age of 9, Lindsay-Worrell started sewing dresses by hand because she said her mom told her she was too small to use the sewing machine.

“I used a needle and thread to make my skirts, and I’ve been sewing ever since,” she said.

Lindsay-Worrell said she would always choose the home economics classes as she attended school in Jamaica to learn more about sewing.

“After I graduated high school in Jamaica, I wanted to go to a fashion school. So I immigrated to the USA in 2004, and as soon I hit America, I got accepted into a fashion school in Norwalk where I did a fashion design program,” she said. “Years after, I got laid off from one of my jobs, I went back to school again and did a business management program at FIT. So I have two associate degrees and a bachelor's degree in fashion.”

Lindsay-Worrell's plan was always to work in fashion and get into the fashion industry, but what inspired her to open her own business was a purse she saw working her retail job to pay for fashion school.

“One of the things they sold at my retail job was some fabric-made handbags, sort of like tote bags,” she said. “I was looking at all them, and I thought, this is selling for how much money? I can make this within five minutes. So in school, we had a project to think about our future and what we wanted to do after we graduated, and one of the things for the project was to create a whole store.”

Having experience working in retail, and a fashion education, she got the idea to open and run a business, she said.

Because Lindsay-Worrell designs and makes all of her products in-store, she said customers know they get quality designs for an affordable price.

“You know it’s going to fit, you know it’s going to last a while, and you know it’s going to look good,” said Lindsay-Worrell. “Because I have a physical store, the space is much bigger, and I have more quanity of stuff I can create to fill the store that people can buy off the rack. So everything is not custom. You can come in the store looking for a prom dress and find what you need.”

Karlene Lindsay Designs specializes in prom, wedding and party dresses, and also sells jewelry, handbags and shoes to accessorize an entire outfit.

“So customers can get an entire ensemble head to toe, in-store and don’t have to go to other stores looking for everything else,” she said. “These dresses can be uniquely made to them, so when my customers go to a party, they will have a unique dress.”

Besides designing dresses, Lindsay-Worrell said she also does alterations on dresses from other stores brought in by customers.