Kelly’s Kids celebrates 25 years of children’s clothing

Published 1:53 am Sunday, February 10, 2008

NATCHEZ — Kelly’s Kids has certainly come along way from its roots.

And this year is a celebration for the Natchez based company.

It’s been 25 years since Lynn James started the company in an unfinished room in her home in Waterproof.

Email newsletter signup

And for 25 years James and her staff have been churning out custom children’s clothing all over the southeast.

“I just started making clothes for my own kids,” she said. “From there it just took off.”

James’ work started with putting detail work on her daughter Kelly’s jumpers.

“It was always a big hit,” she said.

On Thursday James, a handful of her staff and a surprisingly calm group of children gathered at James’ house for the autumn 2008 catalog photo shoot.

The children ages 3-6 went through wardrobe changes and took direction like true professionals.

“Look over there, look over there,” said one of James’ staff, pointing to the sky, as a little blond boy dropped a handful of faux snow on his head.

When the set was over everyone cheered as the children went to change into what looked like an October line-up.

And the models weren’t the only new blood on the set that day.

Much of Lynn’s managerial staff reflects her vision of the future for Kelly’s Kids.

“Right now we have a young energetic staff all with Natchez roots,” she said.

But while the new staff might be energetic they’ll have to hustle to keep up with James.

On the set she constantly ran back and forth from the cameraman to the kids.

Checking photos and adjusting the pumpkin on a little boy’s head all looked to be commonplace for James.

Her new staff, at its core, is comprised of her son Ashton, daughter Kelly and Meg O’Beirne.

“This is a big part of the future of this company,” she said. “I’m leaving it in good hands.”

Of James’ new staff none have been at the company for more than two years.

Ashton is the company’s general manager, O’Beirne is the new marketing director and Kelly works with her mother on almost all aspects of design.

Kelly, the company’s namesake, said the creative process manifests in a constant ongoing chatter between her and her mother.

“We literally talk about it all the time,” she said. “We constantly discuss new ideas and trends we see.”

Kelly said they discuss fashion design so much it often becomes an annoyance to people around them.

James’ son Ashton said working with his family has been a rewarding experience.

But he was also quick to point out that the people who have been working with the company for years make it the institution it has become.

On a quick stroll thought the warehouse it was difficult to find a worker with less than 17 years experience.

“They have so much experience,” Ashton said. “They make the company what it is.”

And Lynn James said she feels confident the company she developed now has the right combination of energy and longevity to give the company what it needs for 25 more years of success.

“The party is just beginning,” she said.