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Kelli Martin never followed the rules when it came to personal style. Her humble upbringing in Columbus, Ohio, combined with her insatiable love for unique clothing, drove her to alter and embellish thrift store threads and discount shop finds from a very young age. Young Kelli amalgamated her own oxymoronic, pretty-ugly approach to fashion, which is the root of the Anti.Label brand still today.

With little more than raw ambition and natural talent in tow, Kelli moved westward to attend the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) in L.A., where she graduated with a degree in advanced design and began working as a buyer on Melrose. Not content buying other people’s designer threads, she returned to Columbus to jump-start her own line, Anti.Label.

In 2007, Kelli was offered the opportunity of a lifetime, and moved temporarily to New York to compete on Season 5 of Bravo’s Project Runway. Kelli won the first challenge and proved herself a formidable competitor, but ultimately was eliminated during the dreaded team challenge.

Today Kelli is still dominating her niche, as she lives out her goal of giving the alternative fashion scene a violent shove from “weird-for-the-sake-of-weird to wearable, creative fashion.” In Kelli’s hands, Anti.Label shows multiple collections throughout the year and maintains a healthy business of sample sales and custom design work.

Photo: Ian C. Powell

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