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Conversations with Tonya Pesch

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tonya Pesch.

Hi Tonya, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
After graduation from high school, I found myself lost on what I wanted to do for my career path. I enrolled in my local community college in nursing classes. One day, during my break in the day, I was walking around when I saw a class putting together a window display for a fashion show. I remember how interesting that looked and how I wanted to be a part of it. The next semester, I took a big leap and enrolled in all fashion classes. As a kid, I learned how to sew from my aunt, who gifted me my very first sewing machine. I loved doing sewing projects all through elementary to high school, and how much creativity I had.

I gained my formal experience starting at Johnson County Community College. After graduating with my Associate of Applied Science of Arts in Fashion Design. I furthered my education by going to Stephens College in Columbia, Mo. I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design and Product Development. Through my time at college, I have submitted collections at both JCCC and Stephens College for annual fashion shows. My collection RideLikeAGirl was presented in front of a panel of Judges and my professors at Stephens College, and I have presented the award for Best Collection: Most Marketable.

My brand Nokota is portrayed in my logo which is a digitized format of my original hand-painted horse. Nokota is bold and free to roam. The circle that encompasses her, is representative of time and physical restraint. I designed the brand logo during my time at Stephens College.

After college, I returned back to Olathe, KS area where I work at a local winery, Stone Pillar Vineyard & Winery. Today, I help manage the tasting room, book events such as our Friday night concert bands and food trucks, and help with social media. Working at the winery, I get to let my creativity shine with Nokota, I have my own wine label which has won awards. However, one of the big events I manage and plan at the winery is Vogue in the Vines. Vogue in the Vines is an annual fashion show hosted in June in the vineyard, each year the show grows larger. The show has a lineup of local fashion designers that present their collection down the runway, has a local DJ, food truck, along local boutique shopping at the Sip N Shop before the runway starts.

My design inspiration comes from my lifestyle. As an avid outdoorswoman, formally trained Equestrian and adventurous traveler, I bring my passion for those things to my designs. The collection and pieces that come out of Nokota are Western Bohemian-inspired. I love working with leather and fringe, I feel the movement of a garment makes a statement. I work with a lot of different textures such as Flowy and sheer to hand-printed designed prints.

For the past five years, I have designed under Nokota.Style label. I’m a Kansas City-based designer but for the past three years, I have traveled to other states for fashion shows. I have shown collections in Kansas City Fashion Week, Local Runway, Omaha Fashion Week, The Society in New York City, Interform Art in Arkansas, and of course Vogue in the Vines. I have big goals for next year to continue to travel to fashion shows. I’m currently working on purchasing a glamper for Nokota to travel to local Sip N Shops and boutique events.

I thank the support I have from my family, friends, my Winery family, and my followers that have become friends from Nokota for pushing me to go after my dreams and to show what I got for Nokota.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I’ve had a few setbacks and roller coasters, which have pushed me to try harder for my brand. First starting out, I had always dreamed to show in Kansas City Fashion Week when I applied I didn’t get accepted, I took some time to work on my website and social media then took the next year to apply where I showed my first collection after college.

Fast forward to 2021, where I have now shown in Kansas City Fashion Week for the next four seasons.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I’ve always been told I’m a workaholic. If you can’t find me at the winery I’m probably sewing for Nokota. I clock out of one job and clock into the next. I take pride in my hard work as it’s gotten me where I’m at today. I’m mostly known for my leatherwork, such as my custom fringe pieces. You will almost always see fringe in my collections. Whether it’s leather belts, denim jackets, vests, or even dresses, there will be fringe.

One thing I have learned through my label is making connections. A formal coworker/friend invited me to the Roots and Blues Music Festival in Columbia, MO. at the Festival I had a meet and greet pass given to me where I was able to hand one of my custom fridge belts to singer and songwriter Maren Morris. Still, looking back to that day it’s one of my proudest moments for Nokota.

If we knew you growing up, how would we have described you?
As previously described, I took on a lot of sewing projects when I was younger. I was very shy while I was trying to find myself. I’m still fairly shy today, however, get me talking about fashion, wine, or horses and I open up more. Being shy and not all that into sports made it challenging finding friends, so I would spend my time being creative and got into horseback riding.

Through my time learning how to ride in a western saddle, I fell in love with rodeoing. I started to rodeo in high school and continued through college. My years in rodeo are what sparked the style and designs of my collections that you see in my label Nokota.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Jason Atherton, Alex Todd, Sabrina Dunne, and Sara Clance

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