Thursday, April 25, 2013

Mingle Mingle Mini and More: Kelly Wynne

I'm always amazed when young gutsy girls do what it takes to accomplish big dreams.
And I'm even more amazed when I know them.
Enter Kelly White, the designer behind Kelly Wynne. Kelly was a sorority sister with me at Ole Miss, and I was blown away when a mutual friend tuned me in to her Instagram account to show me what this budding new designer was up to lately (thanks for that, Camille.) And trust me when I say you're going to want to keep an eye on this line, because I give it no time at all to blow up big.
I immediately emailed Kelly to see what was going on behind this new line, and she sat down to answer a few questions I had about Kelly Wynne for the blog—that just so happened to coincide with the spring launch of her new collection.

Read on to see what this Cinderella story is all about and how you can get your hands on one of these lustworthy handbags asap (spoiler alert: trunk show in Oxford on Saturday!):
So, first things first. What was the initial idea behind Kelly Wynne?
You know those dreams people have growing up that seem really unobtainable, and are most likely just a dream? This was mine. I love all accessories because it's the best way to jazz up an outfit! After working in PR for 3 years, I couldn't let go of the idea of designing my own collection. I began researching, sketching, and meeting with various professionals in the fashion industry. One thing led to another, and my dream of designing handbags became reality. I finally decided to go for it!

What was your unique aesthetic concept for the line?
I wanted to start a fresh and contemporary handbag line with a mid-range price point inspired by the stingray look. I love stingray, but it can be very pricey. So I started developing unique printed leathers that mimic exotics in a luxe and eye-catching way. There are two printed styles in my first collection, the Lizard which is comprised of repeating dots and the Serpentine which is a splattered look, both on printed suede. Then, my logo is a "W" and "K" turned sideways sitting on top. Wynne is my middle name. When deciding what to call the brand, I just thought Kelly Wynne flowed. I was a graphic designer before this venture, which has definitely been helpful creating the logo and any marketing materials we have needed. I wanted a subtle logo which I feel like I accomplished because I have many people asking me what the logo means. We have more ideas in the works for expanding this logo in future collections, and I can't wait to show you our next developments!

What was the process from going from Kelly Wynne as an idea to Kelly Wynne as an actual line?
I started out by running to fabric and leather shops on my lunch break in my previous job. I bought all sorts of fabric and played around with designs at night. My dream was to produce leather handbags (not fabric), but I had no idea how to begin! I took a few sewing classes, bought a sewing machine and made my first bag out of fabric. Then, I met with local seamstresses to see if they could make a leather bag for me. It's hard finding someone that works with leather. You have to have special machinery. I remember celebrating with my girlfriends after I thought I had found the perfect person for the job. A few days later, I asked the lady if she would come down on her pricing since I was going to be producing "a lot of bags". She basically told me in a very nice way to go elsewhere. I kept meeting with local seamstresses, I developed a business plan, and I talked to as many designers in the industry as possible—just to learn how they got started. It turns out that all the research was so helpful!

So it didn't all go smoothly at first?
It turned around! After many disappointing meetings, I kept fighting. I was constantly in prayer about finding the right people to work with. I just wouldn't give up! I finally happened upon my manufacturer who I am working with now. We are a great team. All it takes is persistence and curiosity. I would call different leather suppliers and ask who they ship their leather to in the area, and of course the Internet is a wealth of information. You can find just about anything if you dig deep enough!

So how many pieces does the first collection include? Which is your favorite? 
There are 6 different styles and 23 different colors. It's so hard to pick a favorite because I love them all for different reasons! But, if I must choose... I would say:
The Here's To You Hobo in stone white serpentine
The Mingle Mingle Mini in the stone platinum lizard
And the Paint the Town Tote, in either the stone white lizard or the black white lizard

I love all the clutches, as well. Oh, I forgot about the Pop the Champagne Shoulder style—this is my signature style and I love all the colors. This is like asking which is your favorite child! I always told myself I would never produce anything I didn't love. So you will see me wearing all of my bags.

Anything else extra-special you consider of the Kelly Wynne line?
Oh yes. The Kelly Wynne handbags are handcrafted by artisans in New York City, and it has been the most amazing experience working with suppliers in the US. I love knowing exactly who I am dealing with on a day-to-day basis. I can't imagine trying to accomplish my goals overseas. My favorite part about this whole process has been meeting so many different people. Of course, I face daily challenges and am always problem-solving, but I am satisfied with my ultimate decision to have the bags produced in the US. I definitely have a great team working to make these bags beautiful for all the fabulous women that want to carry a Kelly Wynne.

If you could see one famous woman with a Kelly Wynne bag, who would it be? 
Faith Hill because she's confident, classy, stylish, and feminine... and married to my favorite country artist!

Do you have advice for budding designers? Any wise words, tips, or tricks? Things you wish you had known?
Fear seems to be one of the main things that holds people back from pursuing their dream. Yes, it's scary. I'm still scared, but you only live once, so why let that hold you back?! It's very hard starting your own business—much harder than I ever imagined. But I absolutely love it! Especially since I didn't study fashion—everything is new to me right now. So, my advice would be: Don't be embarrassed to ask dumb questions. Be curious and ask as many questions as possible. It truly is the best way to learn. Be persistent and never give up—it's cliche, but it's so true. There will definitely be days you want to give up. I remember I got so upset over a little D-ring because I couldn't find the right fit—silly to think about now. But I was at a breaking point. Don't let those breaking points get to you!

What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you as a designer?
I sketch life size handbags on paper and cut them out to see how they look first!

So what are five items you can't live without and why?
1. My laptop & the Adobe Creative Suites—Illustrator is my favorite!
2. My Magic Bullet Blender for my daily smoothies. It makes cleanup so easy!
3. My sound machine. I have to have noise to sleep at night.
4. My daily devotional —Jesus Calling 
5. My King Charles pup, Fonzi. He is my baby!!

Any parting words for readers?
My whole motto is "Dare to be fabulous." I want women to be confident and feel fabulous when carrying a Kelly Wynne. SoDare to be fabulous! xo 

The Kelly Wynne team is taking pre-orders now, and you can email Kelly directly for inquires at Her ultra-fab website is set to launch May 6 and people will be able to purchase online at

But, for all you lucky Mississippi gals, Kelly Wynne is having a trunk show this weekend at everyone's favorite boutique, Cicada. Stop by all day Friday or Saturday browse this beautiful new line. And be sure to pick me up the Mingle Mingle Mini or Cloud 9 Clutch in white serpentine preferably while you're at it, because I'm dying to add them to my accessories collection!

Follow Kelly Wynne via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for sneak peeks and instant updates! 
Daily gratitude: Successful starts and inspiration.
{Photo credits: Kelsey Foster}


Lauren said...

Love those bags! I'm a Pontotoc girl too! Can't wait to keep up with your cute blog!

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