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Kelly’s Kids announces future move to Texas

NATCHEZ — Thirty years after its Miss-Lou startup, Kelly’s Kids announced Wednesday that it would be relocating from Natchez to Austin, Texas.

Kelly’s Kids is a specialty children’s clothing company that works through direct sales and distributes its products through a sales representative’s program. Its offices have been in Waterproof, Ferriday and Natchez, with its current location at 391 Liberty Road serving as offices and warehouse space.

The company’s chief executive officer Ashton James said 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.

“We have been looking to fill positions in marketing, merchandising, graphics and sales,” James said. “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.

“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.”

James said all of the company’s approximately 45 full-time employees have been offered the opportunity to move with the company, and the announcement about the future move was made a year in advance in part to help employees plan for the future.

“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 Waterproof. As the company grew, it moved to Ferriday and at one time had a facility in Jonesville.

“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. “The entire city of Natchez has been incredibly supportive and helpful in all of our endeavors over the years and has always worked with us to improve our business. The community of Natchez has been a wonderful place to live, work and raise a family. We will miss the city of Natchez and all of the lifelong friendships we have forged during our time here.”