Kingi Carpenter said she always wanted to be an artist. As a young girl, she spent a lot of time sewing fabric and making necklaces out of dyed corn kernels.
She studied screen printing at The Ontario College of Art in Toronto, and fell in love with silkscreen printing and fabric design.
"I couldn't really do anything I wanted to do," Carpenter said. "So I just thought, 'I'll just start my own business' because I was a crazy kid in the '80s. So I just thought, 'I'll start my own fashion business. That's a good idea.'"
Carpenter began making clothing out of her one-room apartment. She opened a boutique in 1987. Then she started teaching silkscreening workshops.
After 19 years of working in retail, Carpenter said she didn't feel like doing it anymore. Now she has a showroom and an online business designing custom dresses and print jobs. She describes her line of clothing, Peach Berserk, as "quirky and provocative feminist prints."
"It's nice to change up what you do and do it a different way," she said. "It was a great way of reviving what I did and reviving my brand. And I'm busier than ever."
Now the indie fashion entrepreneur is traveling all the way from Toronto to share her artistic talents with the Lowcountry.
She was approached by Hilton Head Island resident Nancy Reed, who visited her studio in Canada, fell in love with her clothing and asked her to do a fashion show on Hilton Head. Reed came back to the States and told her friend, Mira Scott, about Carpenter. Scott is the owner of Picture This Gallery on Hilton Head. She thought it was a great idea and started making plans for Carpenter's visit.
Carpenter will offer a screen-printing workshop May 14 at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, a fashion show May 16 at Picture This Gallery, and will be guest of honor at a private Cirque du Soleil-themed Masquerade Ball on May 18 in Wexford Plantation. She will be available by appointment May 17 for custom design orders and fittings at Picture This Gallery.
"I'm so excited to go and see what it's like," Carpenter said. "My clothes are a bit on the crazy side. They're funkier than most things. And for people to have such nice reception towards me is amazing."
Scott said the fashion show will feature five models wearing 30 of Carpenter's designs.
"It's going to be very, very cool," Scott said. "It's not something that Hilton Head has seen before. ... It gives (the public) an opportunity to connect with an international fashion designer."
Follow Amy Coyne Bredeson at twitter.com/IPBG_Amy .