1. Business

Designer creates custom clothes in her Land O'Lakes home studio

Published Mar. 24, 2014

LAND O'LAKES — Marcy Budwick turned some coral fabric into an Easter dress for her daughter, Kaiya, in 2007. The finished product? A perfect fit.

Budwick, then a mortgage sales rep, created more clothes for the baby — a hobby that would bud into a business called Kaiya Designs.

After high school, Budwick, 33, studied fashion in Orange County, Calif., where she grew up. While she learned to turn fabric into fashion, she worked as a receptionist in the mortgage industry, until her boss made a decision:

"You're going to be a salesperson."

Budwick resisted: "I'm not a salesperson, I'm a fashion girl," she said.

Her boss retorted: "Be a salesperson, or find another job."

Budwick accepted and excelled as a mortgage sales rep.

"It was fun at the time," she said. Business was "booming and busy."

She met her husband, moved to New Jersey, and continued to work with clients in California.

"After I had my daughter, the market took a tank," Budwick said. The company she worked for closed. Then she made that Easter dress. The family moved to Land O'Lakes in 2008, where she kept making clothes for Kaiya.

Other moms inquired: "Where do you get her clothes?"

They offered to pay Budwick to make clothes for their kids, too.

"Their little girls were going to wear something nobody else had," she said.

And while Budwick created custom clothes for kids, she made a discovery: moms wanted custom clothes, too. So Budwick turned part of the three-car garage at her house into the Kaiya Designs studio.

Budwick buys fabrics from vendors in California, Florida and New York and cuts them into custom patterns specified to client's measurements. She'll tweak designs to a customer's taste and create new ones by request.

She acknowledges that custom clothes can cost more than clothes from the mall. Hers run from $18 for a little boy's shirt to $138 for a maxi dress. She says it's worth it, for the fit and the experience.

"You go into the dressing room (at a store) with 50 pairs of pants and walk out with one, if you're lucky," said Jasmine Atiyeh, who has been a Kaiya Designs client for two years. At Kaiya Designs, she said, "it's going to fit."

Since the business expanded to offer women's clothes, plus the clothes for kids, Budwick's mom, Stella Jimenez, helps by doing most of the sewing. Budwick also refurbishes furniture and does interior decorating.

"I'm married to somebody with an incredibly creative mind," said Budwick's husband Dan, 37. "She wants women to feel good," he said.

The work, Budwick said, has been good for her, too.

"I had to work with decimals and percentages and cash flow (in the mortgage industry) — things I really did not care about," she said. "I am so thankful to pursue my passion instead."

Arleen Spenceley can be reached at or (727) 869-6235.


  1. Tampa Bay Lighting host a watch party on the beach at the Tradewinds resort on St. Pete Beach in February. LUIS SANTANA  |  Tampa Bay Times
    TradeWinds is the biggest resort in Pinellas County.
  2. A view of the downtown St. Petersburg skyline and waterfront from over Tampa Bay.
    The news that the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation wants to change its name to include “Tampa Bay” has been met with resistance.
  3. The Whole Coffee Company makes Dunkin’-branded Coffee Thins as well as Tim Hortons Double Double bars and its own Whole Coffee Company-branded nudge coffee bars. (Photo courtesy The Whole Coffee Company) The Whole Coffee Company
    The Whole Coffee Company, which is based in Miami, was previously known as Tierra Nueva Fine Cocoa. ProspEquity Partners of Tampa owns a majority stake in Whole Coffee.
  4. The Corona Cove opens as the Florida Aquarium's new outdoor bar. The beer company is pledging continued donations to aid conservation efforts. Florida Aquarium
    The beer company also has pledged donations to aid conservation efforts.
  5. The Triton cantaloupe, created with help from Eckerd College. Eckerd College
    The St. Petersburg college teamed up with a central Florida plant breeder to create the Triton cantaloupe.
  6. FILE - In this May 14, 2019, fiel photo, containers are piled up at a port in Qingdao in east China's Shandong province. China’s economic growth slowed to a 26-year low in the latest quarter as a tariff war with Washington weighed on exports and auto sales and other domestic activity weakened. The world’s second-largest economy expanded by 6.2 percent in the three months ending in September, down from the previous quarter’s 6 percent, data showed Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. AP
    Growth in the world’s second-largest economy slipped to 6% in the three months ending in September, down from the previous quarter’s 6.2%, data showed Friday.
  7. Ryan Cummings, 23, left, and Alex Frey, 25, both of Tampa, rent Spin electric scooters from a corral located along Zack Street in May. St. Petersburg hopes to soon launch it's own scooter program. CHRIS URSO  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The city wants to avoid other cities’ mistakes. Scooters will not be allowed on sidewalks and must be parked in designated corrals.
  8. Sam's Club fulfillment center manager Nick Barbieri explains to a shopper how the new Scan & Go shop works at 5135 S Dale Mabry Highway. SARA DINATALE  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The shuttered store has been reinvented and debuted to the community.
  9. Yogi Goswami
    The Molekule Air Mini is a scaled-down version of its original purifier.
  10. 580 Corporate Center in Oldsmar Jones Lang LaSalle Capital Markets
    The six-building center is 91 percent occupied.