Kallee Jackson’s Passion for Fashion

An unexpected gift led the Port St. Lucie resident to a new career in fashion. Now her designs are cascading down runways from New York to Paris

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Kallee Jackson wearing one of her own creations at Veterans Park in Port St. Lucie. Photo by Steven Martine
Kallee Jackson wearing one of her own creations at Veterans Park in Port St. Lucie. Photo by Steven Martine

When Arthur Jackson Jr. gifted his wife a sewing machine for Mother’s Day in 2016, he never imagined she would wind up sewing her way into fashion history. “I didn’t even know how to sew at the time,” says Kallee Jackson, 37, who first used the machine to make a skirt for date night with her hubby. When she wore it out to dinner, two women sitting at the adjacent table asked where she bought her skirt. When Jackson explained it was her own design, the women asked if she would make skirts for them. They took out their checkbooks and paid her on the spot.

It seems those ladies had an eye for fashion. Today, Jackson’s designs are catching the attention of the fashion industry, from New York to Paris to London. In October, the Port St. Lucie resident traveled to France for Paris Fashion Week 2023, where models walked the runway in her couture designs. She has also launched a resort collection and a handbag collection and is garnering accolades as a designer she never could have dreamed up. Her burgeoning success in the industry is all a bit surreal for a woman from humble beginnings. 

Jackson (second from right) and models show off some of the designer’s looks outside Maison de Kallee Jackson. Photo courtesy of Kallee Jackson
Jackson (second from right) and models show off some of the designer’s looks outside Maison de Kallee Jackson. Photo courtesy of Kallee Jackson

Originally from Jamaica, Jackson immigrated to the United States in 2003 with her family when she was 17 years old. The family settled in Stuart, where Jackson worked at Wendy’s and then at Publix. She married in 2006, and she and her husband, Arthur, a manager at Publix, moved to Port St. Lucie and started a family. Raising her three children while holding down a job at Publix, Jackson says she found herself struggling with depression. “I came from poverty, and I couldn’t see my dreams ever coming true,” she says. And then came Mother’s Day 2016, when her husband hoped to make her day special by gifting her that sewing machine. “He couldn’t figure out what to get me, and I thought he was crazy,” Jackson recalls thinking of the gift selection. 

Nonetheless, she started sewing—first the skirts, then, when the pandemic hit, she started making face masks. As she got more adept with the machine, she eventually began making dresses for proms, weddings, and galas. By 2022, designing had became her passion, and she opened a fashion house, Maison de Kallee Jackson, in St. Lucie West, where she sells her one-of-a-kind dresses. 

Jackson in her Port St. Lucie studio. Photo by Steven Martine
Jackson in her Port St. Lucie studio. Photo by Steven Martine

Jackson creates custom pieces that cater to individual tastes, working closely with clients to understand their likes and dislikes, their favorite colors, which fabrics are best for the design and their body shape, and what occasion they will be wearing the dress for. “I sketch as they talk,” says Jackson, who aims to capture on paper her clients’ unique visions. Once a design comes to life as a finished dress, Jackson’s team at Maison de Kallee Jackson styles the client with shoes, accessories, hair, and makeup, treats them to a photo shoot, and even coordinates limousine service to the event. 

Her portfolio of sketches and photographs of finished dresses is impressive and diverse, each design more stunning than the next and each quintessentially unique. Jackson admits she is often as astonished as her customers when she sees the final result. “I’m self-taught, so I am constantly surprising myself with each new design,” she says.

Behind the scenes at Paris Fashion Week 2023. Photo courtesy of Kallee Jackson
Behind the scenes at Paris Fashion Week 2023. Photo courtesy of Kallee Jackson

It wasn’t long after opening her business that Jackson received something every fashion designer dreams of: an invitation to New York Fashion Week. Runway 7, one of the production companies for NYFW, had seen Jackson’s dresses on social media and was impressed. They asked if she would like to put on a runway show at the 2023 NYFW in February, featuring 10 of her designs. “It was exciting and emotional at the same time,” recalls Jackson. “It takes some designers 15 to 20 years to be invited. For me, it proved even more that I am good at what I do and motivated me to keep going.” 

The show was a resounding success—one of her runway looks was even purchased by a well-known celebrity (Jackson says she has to keep the name private for now). There was a billboard in Times Square featuring Maison de Kallee Jackson. It was all so surreal….

Hard at work on a design in Port St. Lucie. Photo courtesy of Kallee Jackson
Hard at work on a design in Port St. Lucie. Photo courtesy of Kallee Jackson

Her successful New York show paved the way for more esteemed invitations—to Paris Fashion Week this past October, as well as London Fashion Week and Dubai Fashion Week in 2024. Jackson says she hopes to see an invitation for Milan Fashion Week soon.

While she prepares for London, Jackson is also busy launching her new resort collection, the Kallee Jackson Kiss Collection. Introduced at Paris Fashion Week 2023, the collection is a mix of bright, colorful pieces that Jackson says offers something for everyone, regardless of their size or age. “I wanted to create a collection that everyone could have access to,” she says. For now, the new collection is only available online, but she is working toward getting it into stores. Her handbag collection, Kallee Jackson Evening Bag Collection, which is also sold on her website, features bags made of wood in vibrant colors and patterns, each a unique work of art. 

A model walks the runway in a Kallee Jackson original at Paris Fashion Week in October. Photo courtesy of Kallee Jackson
A model walks the runway in a Kallee Jackson original at Paris Fashion Week in October. Photo courtesy of Kallee Jackson

As her star continues to rise in the fashion world, Jackson is still very much grounded in the community she has called home since arriving in America 20 years ago. In August, she hosted a fashion show at Treasure Coast Lexus to benefit several local charities including the Pace Center for Girls, Boy & Girls Clubs of St. Lucie County, and Strive for Excellence. Models walked the runway wearing 40 of Jackson’s designs, including some from the new resort collection. “The best part was that I have so much love for this place, and I got to see the love right back,” she says.

Starting this month, Jackson’s designs will be sold in stores in Paris—just another one of her dreams coming true. “I would like to be a well-known fashion house, open a boutique here in South Florida, and be invited to Milan,” she says when asked about future goals. There is one person for sure who believes all of that will happen: her husband. “Arthur is my biggest supporter,” says Jackson. “He always saw things differently. From the beginning, he always said, ‘She can do all that!’” 

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