Small Business Spotlight: Kelly’s Kids, Natchez

by Laura Smith

Published: February 27,2011

Tags: Ashton James, Kelly’s Kids, Lynn James

Ashton James remembers standing on the front porch of his boyhood home with his cousin, Dan, as the only models for his mother’s new clothing company, Kelly’s Kids.

The boys were paid a dollar an outfit — because they also had to try on the girls’ outfits, too.

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.

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.

Today, the 32-year-old James serves as chief executive officer of the 28-year-old children’s clothing company his mother, Lynn James, started in the family’s farmhouse in Waterproof, La.

“A lot of people say they started a company because they have a great idea or for some other reason, but my mom has always said she did it because she needed some income,” James said.

Lynn James began drawing appliques for girls’ jumpers and boys’ jon-jons in a bathroom she converted to a sewing room. Her New Orleans friends showed off the appliques at Junior League meetings, and before long, James hired seamstresses to keep up with orders.

The company was named for Ashton James’ younger sister, Kelly, who lives in New York. Two other siblings are attending college.

Today, Ashton James said the company remains very close to its original concept, and Lynn James remains involved in operations.

“We produce classic clothing that can be mixed, matched and coordinated across the family,” he said. “We’ve branched out into accessories, and we have patchwork and seersucker fabrics, but the core of our product hasn’t changed — I think that’s what’s contributed to our success.”

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.

James said direct sales have enabled the company to garner goodwill and loyalty among its customer base.

“We try to build on that year after year, but I always say if you don’t have a good product, none of that stuff has any real value.”

James said watching Kelly’s Kids grow from his mother’s tiny sewing room to a company that has clients in nearly every state has been remarkable.

“My mom needed it to be a success — for us and for the community… And I remember where it started,” James said. “Having success from such humble beginnings, from such a small place, just shows you can start from anywhere. It’s a great story.”

—————————
Up Close With …
Ashton James
Age: 32
Hometown: Natchez
High school: Cathedral School
College: Undergraduate and MBA degrees from Milsaps College; law degree from University of Louisville
Key to success: “The key to our success, I think, is being consistent with the principles that built our company. We try to keep our brand consistent with classic styles that stand the test of time.”
Coolest thing you’ve ever done: “My wife and I love to travel. We’ve gone to Israel and Tanzania, and the coolest thing is that we’ve been able to donate Kelly’s Kids clothing and our time and money. We went on a safari in Africa and donated clothes, schools supplies and shoes. To be able to work for a company and be able to help people we run into on those travels is the coolest thing.”
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3 Responses to “Small Business Spotlight: Kelly’s Kids, Natchez”

  1. Appeninn boosts revenues, eyes top tier stock trading || Ami volt, ami lesz és ami megy. Says:

    [...] Read more on Mississippi Business Journal [...]

  2. Small Business Spotlight: Kelly’s Kids, Natchez Says:

    [...] More » [...]

  3. Small Business Spotlight: Kelly’s Kids, Natchez | Home Ornamentation Idea Says:

    [...] Small Business Spotlight: Kelly’s Kids, Natchez Ashton James remembers standing over the front porch of his boyhood house goes along with his cousin, Dan, as the solely models for his mother’s new clothing company, Kelly’s Kids. Read more over Mississippi Business Journal [...]

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