Childhood passion turns into American dream for Russian immigrant living in Pinellas County

Zhanna Kens' passion for designing dresses started when she was a child in Russia.  She learned the tricks of the trade from her grandmother. 

"I started designing clothes or making clothes for my dolls when I was very young, probably around 4 or 5 years old," Kens shared.  "I remember when I was a little girl she taught me different stitching you know by hand."

When she was 6 years old, her grandmother brought her a sewing machine. 

"I made clothes for myself and then my friends then it grew into a business," said Kens.  

sewing sequin pouch

She came to the U.S. in 1994 and got a job doing alterations on wedding dresses. 

"In 2002, I started making dresses for ballroom dancers, figure skaters," Kens said. 

Now, she designs one of a kind gowns from her home studio in Pinellas County.

ballroom dancer and figure skater wearing Zhanna Kens dresses

"I love it. It's like a part of me,” she explained. “It's who I am. I love to create yes." 

Kens' creations have been worn on national television by figure skaters. 

"My clients came in ninth in the world at the figure skating championship wearing my costume." 

She makes gowns for ballroom dancers and even a Miss America contestant. 

Miss America contestant wearing Zhanna Kens dress

"I just go into a zone and just whatever comes out and it's very beautiful," Kens explained. "I don't know. I guess it's a gift from God." 

It's a gift she hopes her grandmother is proud of. 

Kens said, "Oh, I think she probably smiles at me in Heaven every time I create a beautiful dress."

Zhanna Kens grandmother


Download our free news app

Sign up for our daily newsletter