Capital Region woman gaining fame for accessories

June 22, 2018 10:26 AM

In her native Panama, Karen "Kema" Maxwell could never have imagined her creations would take her all the way to New York and the runway. 

She learned to sew before middle school.

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"It's kind of embedded in my DNA on both sides," she said.

She later relocated to New York. Education, kids and life took over but one day her daughter needed a bag.

And the shoes came off. Her daughter's backpack was a hit. The buzz started up again when she created a flag bag of her native land.

"Everyone started coming to my booth and asked me for more bags," Maxwell said. "I didn't have any so I left there with six orders."

Now she needed to make a decision.

"It became official in 2015. I stopped sewing for gratitude and started charging," Maxwell said.

But it would be this one that would really sew things up, casting her under a bigger spotlight. It all happened by chance when a Harlem fashion week rep saw her at a fabric store with the bag and loved it.

So now she's back where she started but in a bigger way.

"Going the convention route can sometimes be difficult but there are times when you're surprised how doors open up," Maxwell said. 


WNYT Staff

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