When Kelly decided to move from New York City to the Southeast in 2006, she looked forward, partly, to the warm weather. But the move also meant an opportunity to become an expert on the Southeastern retail customer. Living among the customers her stores were selling to, traveling around the region, seeing what women were wearing from Florida to Virginia would allow her to better understand what people in the Southeast want to buy.
Now she lives in Charleston,South Carolina, but is back and forth to New York regularly. She spent 20 years there, starting with her first job in apparel, with Joan Vass USA, when she was 18. Having grown up in St. Louis, in an “apparel family,” Kelly loved being in the thick of things in New York.
She moved on after Vass, working in various showrooms for contemporary, misses and European designer collections, including Sara Sturgeon, Votre Nom, and the tencel jean line Democracy. As she continued to hone her eye for design, she also helped catapult these labels into fashion consciousness.
Kelly’s time working in New York was invaluable in developing her sense of style and ability to package the right look for the right store. She understands that some customers want dresses and tops that will cover their arms—while others are hip, young moms wanting to wear the latest styles. Every store attracts a different mix. Her track record for bringing lines that will sell in her buyers’ stores shows that she understands this dynamic thoroughly.
Having traveled throughout the United States and around the globe, Kelly’s worked closely with a wide variety of designers on everything from production to merchandising and editing collections. At her showroom in the America’s Mart in Atlanta, she welcomes buyers from across the Southeast, sharing new ideas for lines that have done well in stores like theirs.
Kelly’s keen design sense and understanding of the Southeastern market have proven to be a winning combination for buyers of any type of store. Her focus is on helping her clients continue to delight their customers by offering that special item they simply can’t resist.