Written by: 
Lisa Sciortino
Photography by: 
Pete Comparoni
Alana Kay
Alana Kay ('04)

A home DIY project unexpectedly changed the trajectory of Alana Kay's ('04) career in the retail industry.

In 2017, in search of a creative project, Alana Kay decided to transform a table in her home. She researched how to pour and install a color-swirled resin top onto the piece. After posting a photo of the finished table on social media, "Someone asked if I could make a painting for them like that and I was like, 'Sure. That sounds fun,'" she recalls.

With that, her company, Alana Kay Art, was born. Her original, custom abstract paintings -- resin and acrylics on wood and canvas panels -- are awash in waves of vibrant color.

And now a line of clothing featuring her designs is being sold on HSN, formerly known as the Home Shopping Network.

Artistic Endeavors
Alana Kay

After graduating from UNT -- where she went by Alana Kay Duke and was a member of Zeta Tau Alpha -- with a bachelor's degree in merchandising from the College of Merchandising, Hospitality and Tourism, she worked for JCPenney in Texas as an inventory analyst and assistant buyer. It was similar to a position she later held at a luxury spa and boutique in South Florida, where she and her family resided for several years before relocating to Fort Worth over a decade ago.

Each commissioned artwork she creates begins with an interview of her clients to learn more about them.

"What do they want to see and feel when they look at this painting? Maybe they have a favorite place that they've visited on a vacation, or maybe they want to commemorate a person in this artwork, or they are looking for more joy in their day. That leads me down the path of inspiration," she says.

Alana Kay's artwork also emblazons home décor items -- cocktail glasses, acrylic trays, dessert plates and others -- as well as jewelry that she designs.

"The possibilities are endless and figuring out how to elevate the designs in a way that it's not just another printed tchotchke -- but instead a truly beautiful piece of art as a product; that is a huge part of what sets my brand apart." she says.

Fashion Forward
Alana Kay

Earlier this year, she expanded her product offering with a women's apparel line under the brand name othrwīs by Alana Kay, exclusively on television's HSN. Alana Kay designs each piece of clothing, including casual blouses, pants, jumpsuits and dresses, which are constructed of fabric printed with her original artwork. This new brand brings size inclusivity and comfortable knitwear to her product lineup.

The deal with HSN came together about a year ago after she attended the 2023 Women in Retail Leadership Summit, an annual conference hosted by the Women in Retail Leadership Circle organization, which is comprised of high-level retail executives and others.

Alana Kay's 15-minute pitch meeting with HSN executives at the event led to a longer interview. Within a few months, she was in New York City presenting mockups and artwork of items that were to be included in a Spring 2024 fashion collection for the network.

This spring, Alana Kay traveled to HSN's studio in St. Petersburg, Florida, where she appeared live on air as part of the apparel line's launch.

"It was a whirlwind," she says of her experience in front of the camera. Her first segment aired on a Friday night followed by another appearance early the next morning. With a quick turn around between on-air segments, she opted for extra sleep rather than a total redo of her hair and makeup between the segments. She slept for a few hours carefully propped up on a stack of pillows. "Then I got up, touched up and went back for my 8 a.m. Saturday show spot."

The HSN show hosts "were great," she says. "They were so easy to talk to. It was a fascinating experience."

With Design in Mind
art paint mixing palette and apron artistically smudged with paint

Alana Kay says her artwork, apparel and décor items complement the current design climate.

"I think that there's a moment right now where there's a lot of freedom in how we're dressing, how we're decorating. People want joy and they want to feel happy, and color has the power to do that," she says.

While fashion trends continue to exist, "It's less so than it used to be," she says. "If you buy something today that makes you happy, fits you well and lasts, the possibility is in 10 years you can still wear that item and it's likely to still bring you joy. And that's what we should be going toward from a sustainability perspective and a mental health perspective. We need to fill our lives with things that make us happy. I do think that there's an opportunity for my brand to grow with people pursuing joy in mundane places."

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