NATCHEZ — Kelly’s Kids, which has operated its children’s clothing operation in Mississippi and Louisiana for 30 years, will move to Texas in 2014.
Kelly’s Kids products are sold by representatives who host in-home parties and through the Internet and catalog. Its sole retail store is an outlet in Natchez where the company now is headquartered.
Company CEO Ashton James said the move would close operations in Natchez and Waterproof and Ferriday in Louisiana.
He tells the Natchez Democrat the move — which will happen in April or May 2014 — was primarily so the company would be able to recruit from a wider employment pool in the Austin, Texas, area.
“It has nothing to do with the town or what the city of Natchez has or has not offered. The city has been great — the towns of Ferriday and Waterproof have been great — and we could not have started (the company) without them.
“We have been looking to fill positions in marketing, merchandising, graphics and sales. We have had some luck with a few people who have grown up in Natchez, and they were willing to come here but have since departed, so in order to really expand our business, we really need to go after a broader employment base,” James said.
James said the company’s 45 full-time employees have been offered the opportunity to move with the company.
“We wanted to give a lot of time, we didn’t want to duck our heads and sneak out of town,” James said. “We wanted to give our employees plenty of time to come with us or to help them transition to something new — we really owe them that because they have been so great to us.”
James said the company’s production facility, which has been located in El Salvador for the last 10 years, would continue to operate under the current status quo.
Lynn James — the company’s president and Ashton James’ mother — founded Kelly’s Kids as a cottage industry in 1983 in the family’s farmhouse in Waterproof. As the company grew, it moved to Ferriday and at one time had a facility in Jonesville, La.
“My entire family and I will be forever grateful to the cities of Natchez, Ferriday and Waterproof, without whom we never would have been able to start our business more than 30 years ago,” Ashton James said.