Kelly’s Kids announces future move to Texas

Published 12:10am Thursday, April 4, 2013

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.”

  • khakirat

    I wonder if its because of the no state income tax in Texas?! Natchez sure don’t need to lose another business thats for sure!!!

  • Anonymous

    Lack of an educated pool of potential employees to fill critical jobs and those who could be recruited from outside the Miss-Lou not wanting to relocate to this area says it all to me.

  • Anonymous

    I doubt the income tax is the main reason, though it’s a nice incentive. A move from Natchez, Southwest Mississippi, Mississippi as a whole; to Austin, TX is a big leap. Austin being of the five fastest growing communities in the entire country. Looking to ” fill positions in marketing, graphics, merchandising, and sales.” pretty much says it all to me. Look around. See anyone you would hire in such demanding jobs? Hate to see them go, but wish them well. Seems they are being more than fair with their employees.

  • concerned redneck

    It says plainly in the article EDUCATION

  • .Milteer.

    People who move here are crazy and people who stay here are even crazier.

  • Anonymous

    This speaks volumes. It is not only a reflection of the education system, but it is also reflection of the city’s leadership. This company is looking for an energetic workforce with new and fresh ideas. You will not find that population in a city that is a retirement town in which the main attraction is antebellum gardens and hoop skirts. It is 2013…Natchez is on its way to becoming a “ghost” town! Such a sad outcome for a city with this much potential for development.

  • .Milteer.

    100% correct.

  • khakirat

    When you are born here and raised here your family with your folks buried here you just don’t pull the anchor and leave!! I have my problems with the politics of the city and county but living 65 years I’m not leaving now and I don’t consider my wife and I crazy!!! This is home and will be always be for we love its people and culture!!! Every job that I worked for after coming back to Natchez from college is no longer in existence should tell you something but we didn’t give up with kids in college we kept going and finding work that didn’t pay what we were used too!! The good Lord has blessed my family many times over by staying!!!

  • suzee981

    You are so very right! I’m sure there are plenty of qualified folks in Austin to fill those jobs! Many people here just don’t want to work. I saw it many times at my job, people would be hired and swear they wanted to work and needed a job, but when it came down to it, they didn’t want to do anything but collect a paycheck!

  • Anonymous

    In another 15 years, Natchez will become “South Fayette”. It’s well on it’s way!

  • Anonymous

    Janice I agree with all you wrote with this exception …Natchez is not a “retirement community”. Having lived here since Katrina I brought my aging relative here with the idea in mind that I would care for her in her last days. Obviously I did not do my homework beyond the aesthetic beauty in the town!

    I found after calling 114 churches in the phone book looking for some sort of volunteer assistance that not one church would help.

    After utilizing 2 different Hospice organizations over the years they also have NO volunteers to relieve the caretaker. (This is not meant to be a disparaging comment about Hospice as they provided excellent care) but rather a comment on the state of volunteers in this town & their so called charitable beliefs.

    Most specialists have left the area…. If they are needed one must go to Jackson, Baton Rouge or New Orleans

    In order to participate in any of the activities provided by Senior Services you must be mobile

    As a 24/7 caretaker with only 1-2 hours out of the house on the weekend for the last 7 years I found I couldn’t conduct any business M-F because of the lack of assistance here in Natchez for a caregiver.

    I find property taxes and insurance very high (possibly to make up for the exodus in population) I found 180-200+ properties for sale consistently over the last 7 years…why?

    Natchez may be touted as a “retirement town” …. but unless you have family here, use as a second residence & travel, are wealthy or just living at poverty level and subsiding month to month this is not a place to retire to. Thankfully my days are numbered here as my care taking services are no longer required … I have been told the prospect of selling my home could take as long as 1-3 years because of the local market..lack of jobs, well honestly lack of everything except beauty. But unfortunately beauty to the eye does not make up for the lack of services that are needed in this day and age to care for Seniors.

  • .Milteer.

    It is impossible to attract professionals to town. One interview weekend and they’re gone.

  • Anonymous

    Much agreed. Unfortunately, the things in short supply that you outlined will not come with the new industries or tourist attractions being promoted around town – they must come from within. Since it doesn’t exist today, it never will in this generation.

  • Anonymous

    Your absolutely spot on with your comment, I would only like to add that for the most part my issues centered around the help needed for caregivers as Hospice and the other agency were excellent in their capacity. Unfortunately, volunteers & charitable acts are usually undertaken by a certain age group and so not only the younger generations are not being exposed but the older retired folk aren’t available either. The other comments were also from firsthand knowledge … so we do the best we can and move forward. It’s all good :)

  • Afro

    I wonder why?

  • Afro

    I concur…well said. I live in Madison but from that area, Natchez will never reach it’s potential as long as uneducated ppl keep promoting racism.

  • vilou09

    Any theories?

  • vilou09

    What does that have to do with Natchez not being a retirement community?

  • Anonymous

    Sure hate to see Kelly’s Kids go! I have several relatives who worked for Kelly’s Kids for many years and I have purchased lots of cute outfits for my daughter when she was a little girl.

    I definitely understand their decision to move West. Austin, Texas is a great college-town that’s growing by leaps and bounds. It also has a very affluent population and young entrepreneurs in the computer and IT business that would be great customers with deep pockets.

    University of Texas graduates, in addition to the well-educated population in Austin, should be a fertile base from which to select good employees to help grow the company and ensure its continued success.

    The Miss-Lou area will miss you Kelly’s Kids but I wish you the very best!!! Austin is AWESOME!!!