From the historic hardwood floors to the voice of Johnny Cash flowing through the air to the vintage clothing collections expertly organized, a visit to North Campus’ Black Market is like taking a step back in time. But even as unique and epic as Black Market’s resale collections may be, hip, new designs also greet you at the front door, thanks to the creative direction of owner/designer Kelli Martin.
Martin’s talent and vision were galvanized earlier this year when she landed an appearance on season 5 of Bravo’s Project Runway. Now, with that on her resume, she can barely keep her own unconventional AntiLabel creations in stock. “I can’t keep up with anything here anymore,” she says. “I’m being pulled in so many different directions, which I can’t complain about, but I’ve now got to figure out what’s most important.”
Raised by her grandmother on the West side, Martin paid her way through the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles, first by selling her in-class creations on eBay, and later with a third-year Bob Mackie Scholarship that provided a full ride and extra funding to stage a collection before fashion executives.
She retuned home in 2006 with some cash in hand and a business plan to open Black Market. Today, her clientele includes everything from Project Runway fans to swing dancers, college students and even senior citizens. What a spread!
“When I originally did my business plan, I anticipated 18-35-year-olds, but it’s been crazy,” says Martin. “I’ve actually had 70-year-olds come in here to buy sweaters.”
Although recent construction along North High Street has slowed down her business a bit, Martin remains optimistic and has curbed her frustrations by focusing on her future designs, in which she hopes to include a men’s line.