By Madison Rutherford
When Couture Aprons co-founder and head designer Roxane Kyte started her brand last year, she envisioned creating cute, contemporary aprons with a vintage twist.
“Our brand is very feminine and fun… for girls who host a lot of fun events for their girlfriends,” says the Scottsdale Airpark resident.
Couture Aprons makes custom-made, luxury aprons for special occasions.
Kyte says sewing and designing were a calling, of sorts. She learned how to sew when she was 9, after her aunt moved next door to a home economics teacher who hosted a three-week sewing program every summer. Kyte eagerly participated for three summers. By the time she hit high school, she knew she wanted to pursue fashion design, which she went on to study at a small community college in Seattle. She worked in fashion retail for years before launching Couture Aprons in August 2017.
“I’m kind of older for starting something new, but I think that actually is an asset because I’ve been through a lot of generations and seen fashions go around in a circle,” she says. “When it comes back with a new twist to it, that’s when it’s fashion to me.”
Kyte started by sewing a few aprons for her four adult daughters and their friends before selling her designs on Etsy. Her children have always been a big part of her business; in fact, her daughter, Brittany Dishner, helped her found Couture Aprons. Dishner assists with apron designs and creates handcrafted necklaces and custom headpieces for the company’s fashion shows and photo shoots.
“Starting (Couture Aprons), in my opinion, was an accident. It was just something I enjoyed doing. There are so many aprons on the market. I told my daughter that the only way to do this is to separate ourselves from the rest of the group and come up with something that was different, but yet had a vintage flavor,” she explains. “Those who remember the word ‘apron’ associate it with grandma… that style of the ‘50s and ‘60s where girls would wear them while hosting parties. That’s where we started and then we tried to push it to something more modern for today.”
Then Phoenix Fashion Week director Brian Hill invited her to exhibit her luxury aprons on the runway.
“Luxury apron” might seem like an oxymoron, and featuring them on the runway at Fashion Week might sound even more unusual. But Kyte says her pieces captivated audiences because they’re more approachable than some of the avant-garde designs that normally appear on the catwalk.
On Etsy, Kyte sold her aprons at an $80 price point. When she launched the Couture Aprons website, she more than doubled the price. She quickly learned that people are willing to pay top dollar for one-of-a-kind, quality garments. Her aprons now sell for up to $425 a piece.
Each apron is made with premium cottons and linens, imported designer fabrics from Italy, Russia and Japan and handpicked textiles from garment districts in Las Vegas, Los Angeles and New York. Dishner handcrafts detachable necklaces using Swarovski crystals, glass beads and faux pearls. Erika Schmeissing at Arizona Custom Embroidery in the Airpark embellishes each piece with embroidery.
Kyte says her aprons usually feature a color scheme of black, white, gold and pale pink. “I always add tutus, ruffles or organza underskirts; it always adds a bit of a little girl look to it, but it creates a party effect and it seems to be what sells,” she says.
Couture Aprons doesn’t have a physical storefront, and Kyte likes it that way. “I see that as a possibility down the road, but right now I’m just trying to build exposure,” she says.
She is also committed to building memories for her customers. “As a mom raising daughters, you spend so much time preparing for certain events like birthdays and holidays. The girls grew up knowing that when it was their birthday, it was their choice of dinner, a celebration, a cake. The apron, to me, was an extension of that,” she says. “If a mother had her cute little birthday cake apron on, the child would know instantly, ‘It’s my birthday and this is my celebration.’ The child grows up remembering those great memories. We’re about creating memories. We’re not just an apron.”
Couture Aprons focuses on establishing a personal connection with each customer. “It’s easy when I can communicate with the customer. I try to make it personal for them,” she says. “I get to learn a lot from the customer and how they really feel about why they’re buying my product.”
Kyte’s mission is to empower customers. She wants them to feel confident and capable when they put on a Couture Apron. “I’ve had people tell me that just looking at the aprons makes them happy,” she says. “I had one girl tell me, ‘I feel like a princess.’”
Kyte says each apron is a symbol of beauty, poise and empowerment for women in a time where “we question what femininity is.”
“Girls are CEOs of companies… they don’t have to be rough around the edges. They can still be very feminine and enjoy who they are as a woman,” she says.
For more information, call 480-678-5611 or visit coutureaprons.com.