Meet fashion's Emily Brady Koplar, designer of the new ladylike line Wai Ming

If Emily Brady Koplar is a dream catcher, she's at least a sensible one: She earned her degree in economics from Boston University and then pursued her passion. Koplar went on to study design at Parsons in New York and spent her 20s working for the likes of Ralph Lauren, Vivienne Tam and May Department Stores. Now 32, Koplar is back in her hometown of St. Louis designing her own line, Wai Ming, which launched earlier this year. When she flew to Columbus for a trunk show at Thread on Grandview-the only place in Ohio you'll find her line-we lunched with her to chat.

Capital Style: Why is the line called Wai Ming?
Emily Brady Koplar: My mom is Chinese. My dad is mostly Irish. My given name was Emily Wai Ming Brady. My middle name means "Gift of Light," because I was born on the longest day of the year (June 21). I always really identified with it.

CS: How do you describe the line's look?
EBK: Clean but feminine. I try to make sure there's something special about each piece, whether it's fabric or a tiny detail. I would say it's a little bit more refined, but it's still young. And it's very versatile-that's one of my big things. You've got to be able to wear it for different occasions.

CS: About 20 boutiques across the country are carrying your line, which means the pieces are incredibly exclusive. How many of each piece do you make?
EBK: I'll make between 25 and 60, depending on the piece.

CS: How big is your team?
EBK: The team is small: It's me and interns! I work with pattern makers and factories. I have a studio in my home I work from. Thankfully, my husband is very patient, because there are racks of clothes everywhere.

CS: What have you learned after debuting your first collection this spring?
EBK: Certain things perform really well in one part of the country, and certain things perform really well in another part of the country. (And) there's got to be something compelling about the garment. In spring, a gray dot fabric was a big hit. Hand tucking was a big hit.

CS: Do you own every piece in your collections?
EBK: I have all the samples. So once it goes into production, I wear all the samples.