Growing up in a small town in Massachusetts, Karina Cousineau didn’t always appreciate being “the girl whose mother makes her clothes,” but she did enjoy learning the skills involved. Little did she know that one day she would be loved far and wide as the creator of “the original easy dress®.”
The kind of dress you can roll up and stow in your carry-on, then slip into and be ready for anything from chairing a meeting to dancing all night, or just hanging out.
At her boutique/design studio in Kingston, customers will find a classic collection of figure-flattering dresses for every body—the kind of dresses you can roll up and stow in your carry-on, then slip into and feel ready for anything, from chairing a meeting to dancing all night, or just hanging out. These are dresses that become your best friends, reliable and fun at the same time. They’ve been called my “go-to dress” by customers, and Travel + Leisure named them “the perfect travel dress.” They are machine-washable and never need ironing. “I have some I made ten years ago,” says Karina, “and they still look exactly the same.
The sewing and fit are impeccable.” Not to mention, they’re proudly made in the US (New York, to be exact). As a young adult, Karina worked for a brief period of time in the corporate fashion world. It didn’t take her long to realize that industry designers were not embracing women as they are—supporting a healthy self-image was not a priority. And so she decided that corporate fashion was not an industry that she wanted to be a part of.
Karina knew that it was possible to have clothing that embraces self-acceptance, and that having a supportive, joyful work place to make dresses that celebrated women was entirely possible, too.
“My first customer was me,” she says. “I had a need for a dress that would go from day to night in my busy life, and feel comfortable."
They are machine-washable and never need ironing. Not to mention, they’re proudly made in the US (New York, to be exact).
So, she decided to try it her way. “Once I started making my own, I would hear, ‘I want a Karina dress!’ And that’s how it started: one dress at a time.” Clearly, and to her great joy, she was onto something. “People kept telling me it was their new favorite dress, their new comfort zone—I don’t necessarily like to compare them to sweats or pajamas, but they’re no harder to wear than that.
I’m a New Englander, I like things that make sense, so that’s what I’ve been doing all along; we just make the ones that people like. And people collect them. You don’t end up owning just one after you experience the way they look and feel.”
Ten years into designing and selling dresses, her company was recognized by Oprah and continued to move forward. As Karina says, it was a journey of one dress at a time, loving herself, loving her customers, and the daily process of creating these “dresses for every body.”
At any given time there are a dozen style choices, each one available in six different prints, none made with zippers or buttons, all wrinkle-proof, with pockets.
After working for eight years in Brooklyn, Karina began to seek a better life for herself and, with full awareness that her business would continue to flourish, decided to move her business up to Kingston. The move allowed her to expand the company, as well as hire local talent.
“We’ve got 2,200 square feet and half of it is our flagship store, the other half is for our online fulfillment,” she says. “We do everything here, from textile design to photo shoots; we use real customers as models. We get interns from the SUNY Ulster fashion design program; so far, four of them have moved into paid positions. Between here and the Brooklyn production facility, we make 300 to 400 dresses a week.”
At any given time, there are a dozen style choices, each one available in six different prints, none made with zippers or buttons, all wrinkle-proof, with pockets. “There’s nothing more fun,” says Karina, “than having somebody walk in saying, ‘I don’t do dresses—I haven’t worn a dress in years,’ and then watching their face in the mirror. A lot of them leave with four or five.”
329 Wall Street, Kingston
845-331-0717 | karinadresses.com
Find your new favorite dress at the flagship store in Kingston, or online at karinadresses.com. Karina Dresses is open Monday through Saturday from 10am to 6pm, and on Sundays from 11am to 4pm.