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Rising Stars: Meet Kalia Calloway

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kalia Calloway.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
Established 2017 Sarai’s Smile became my and my husband’s primary focus. We are non-profit 501c3 founded in memory of Sarai Calloway, our daughter who was born prematurely at 24 weeks. During her seven months of life, Sarai battled Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia (BPD), Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), a collapsed lung and various challenges that come with a premature birth. Sarai’s battle touched the lives of many and showed others the meaning of true love, faith, and strength. During our extended time in the NICU we had the pleasure of meeting so many families that we face similar challenges. We immediately knew that we wanted to start an organization that would offer love, support and prayer for families facing perpetual Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) stays.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
In 2018, I decided to start a children’s clothing business. I’d already had ten years of design experience so I thought this would be a great decision. My goal with “ Amana Jo” was to create stylish clothing for children as well as develop a specialty line of clothing for Sarais Smile. This line was intended to focus on special needs children that face physical challenges such my Sarai. Unfortunately, after officially launching “Amana Jo” my son Asher was diagnosed with Brain Cancer and I was no longer able to focus on either project.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I’ve always loved fashion as a child and when I entered college, the only major that made sense was Fashion design. After undergrad, I earned my MFA at the academy of art and eventually started my career as a designer working with top companies such as Macy’s, Kohl’s, Nordstrom, Tillys and many more. Having designed for these companies, I believed made me a well-rounded designer. I was able to design with different audiences in mind, various price points, factories overseas, and crazy deadlines. After having children, my career trajectory slightly changed and my desire to create for children grew immensely.

Risk taking is a topic that people have widely differing views on – we’d love to hear your thoughts.
There is always a risk with starting your own business. When you add on the pressure of creating a successful clothing line, you take a risk. Will the line be successful or am I wasting time and money. Starting a nonprofit is a risk as well. Starting something that is so passion-based without any prior knowledge or experience can be overwhelming. In both cases, I pushed through. I’m not where I would like to be but I’m working on it daily.

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