Every month in 2017, I will spotlight one Women Owned Small Business. I love hearing the different reasons that women decide to take control of their destiny and become successful while doing it! What’s the saying? “When you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” January’s Woman Owned Small Business Spotlight is on Kelsey MacLean:
Kelsey MacLean: Classic Children’s Clothing made with exceptional fabrics
Jacqui – Tell me a little something about you. This can include anything personal. Where you went to college and what your degree was for. What you do as a “day job” if your business is your second passion. Hobbies that you enjoy? What community involvement do you participate in?
Kelsey – I am the Founder and Creative director of Kelsey MacLean, a line of custom-embroidered luxury apparel initially launched in 2013. The line was originally only available in high-end hotels, resorts, country clubs and golf clubs. I was named one of Oklahoma’s 50 most powerful people, Next Generation in 2015. My company Fore Kids Golf LLC, DBA Kelsey MacLean has earned Preferred Vendor status for The Ritz-Carlton Hotels and is an Official Licensee of the Tournament Players Club (TPC) Network. I have a retail website, www.KelseyMacLean.com where you can purchase my products as well, which includes the ability to personalize garments with a monogram, name and or logo.
Born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, I spent my early years on our family farm where I developed a deep love for animals, hiking, riding horses and ATV’s, and showing our English Springer Spaniels.
Diagnosed with dyslexia prior to entering first grade, my family was told I “would never be able to fill out a job application”. School was a difficult and frustrating endeavor and later in life, I was further diagnosed with ADHD helping to explain my struggles. Nonetheless, I graduated proudly from Pine Manor College, in Boston, MA, in 1996 with a BA in International Business.
For most of my career, I was a real estate agent in Boston. My business partner and I specialized in working with developers and creating high-end condominiums and townhouses in downtown Boston, primarily in the Beacon Hill and Back Bay neighborhoods.
In 2010, I married and moved to Pennsylvania with my husband, Robert McLean. After triumphing over infertility, we welcomed our “Miracle Baby,” Ian Stirling McLean, into the world in February 2012.
While heavily pregnant I visited a country club golf shop looking to purchase baby clothing for my unborn son embroidered with the club’s logo. What I found was fashion forward, miniature versions of adult clothing, even down to the use of tech fabrics. Appalled, I asked for something a bit more tasteful and made from cotton. I was told that the golf apparel industry did not provide that type of clothing for babies and young children. Looking beyond the world of golf, I found it difficult to find well-made, timeless yet comfortable clothing for babies and children anywhere in the marketplace. Looking back at old photos of myself as a child, I realized that fashion trends come and go. I never want my son to look back on photos of himself as a child and wonder what on earth we were thinking.
Fore Kids Golf LLC was founded a few months after Ian was born, and I began designing my own line. With no formal training in design, apparel or manufacturing, and having an infant child, I decided to follow my dream. My first collection premiered in January 2013 at The PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, FL. The collection received a warm welcome from the golf community, and wholesale orders from many well-known and prestigious golf clubs, country clubs, and hotels in the USA and across the world began rolling in.
Girls Tennis Dress in 100% Pique cotton, click here for more.
In 2014, Fore Kids Golf, LLC moved operations from our garage to a warehouse and office facility. We installed a full embroidery facility that allowed us to provide our customers with fast turnaround times and exceptional embroidery quality. My husband Robert McLean, became the CEO in order to keep my dyslexic ADHD mind as far away from the numbers as possible and allowing me to focus on my own strengths.
In 2015, at the request of the Ritz Carlton Hotels, I designed an Adult Spa Robe. Adults were not going to be happy wearing a product labeled Fore Kids Golf so I needed a new brand. I was not able to trademark my own name. So I trademarked “Kelsey MacLean.” instead. I launched my retail website under this brand. It is from this brand that my story will continue to develop. This may be the end of one chapter but it is the just the beginning of our story.
Monogrammed Kelsey Maclean Bathrobe for adults, click to see more
Jacqui – What motivated you to start your own business?
Kelsey – I could not find well made, classily styled baby and toddler clothing that stayed soft wash after wash. After washing the beautiful baby clothing I was given for my son, they all came out of the dryer feeling like sandpaper. This was disappointing as they were so beautiful before I washed them one time. Most of our clothing ranges in size from a newborn baby to a 55 lbs. child, with the exception of our adult bathrobes. Most all of my designs are made of 100% Pima cotton. I design the clothing and have them made in Peru. We have a full warehouse and embroidery facility as well, so most garments are available off our website personalized with a monogram, name and or logo.
Baby Boy Quilted Layette, Click here for more
Jacqui – What is the toughest thing you’ve faced in starting your business?
Kelsey – I went into an industry that I knew little about. I had a lot of learning to do, but sometimes NOT knowing it is what makes your product unique. Visiting various factories in Peru for my baby/children’s clothing line, a manufacturer stunned me when he said that fabric softeners are used by “everyone in the fashion industry on their 100% cotton clothing”. I told the person “No, that’s not what I want! The problem I had is that when I received so many beautiful baby clothes at my baby shower and washed them, they came out of the dryer feeling like sandpaper.”
The man paused and said “In all my 30+ years in business, not ONE person has ever said that. Let me show you the companies I manufacture for, and then you will change your mind”. He proceeded to show me the same well-known brands that I had received as baby clothing gifts. I knew at that moment that providing baby and children’s clothing that stays soft wash after wash was my big AH HA! Moment. I was at that moment fully committed to moving forward with my company.
Jacqui – What keeps you motivated to keep going with your business?
Kelsey – I fear that I will fail in my business and let my family down, particularly my son. I want to be an example to him that hard work, perseverance and believing in yourself is the key to success. My husband and I have invested our life savings into our company. Failure is not an option, but it’s a great motivator!
Jacqui – How do you sell your products? Do you sell through an online E-commerce site? Do you have your own website? What is your website URL? Or do you only sell through your social media platform? Where can our readers find you? Provide links and address if you sell in a store or other brick and mortar venue.
Kelsey – You will find our clothing line on my website, www.KelseyMacLean.com where you can personalize most items with a monogram, name and or logos. You will also find our line sold in select Hotels, Resorts, Country Clubs and Golf Clubs.
Jacqui – Do you ship your products? Where do you ship? Within the US only? Or do you ship internationally?
Kelsey – We ship worldwide. Almost all of my clothing is available monogrammed, with a name and or a logo. We generally ship within two business days on all personalized clothing and same day for next for non-personalized (monogrammed) items.
Jon Jon Set, click here for more
Jacqui – What charity do you participate with? Give them a shout out!
Kelsey – We offer our clothing embroidered with nonprofit organizations. The bonus to the organization is that they get a percentage of the sales and they have no obligation. It promotes the nonprofit. We currently work with Susan G. Komen Philadelphia, Cheetah.org and Pine Manor College. We are always looking for new nonprofits to work with, please contact us!
Jacqui – What words of encouragement would you give to other women who are on the fence about starting their own business?
- BELIEVE in yourself and your product/service absolutely and completely, and make sure you hire people who are passionate about working for you and are passionate about their job.
- Dream Big, then bigger, then bigger, and accept you will have to work harder than you imagined and you must be willing to take risks.
- When at all possible, never, ever burn bridges with people.
Here are a few great articles on Kelsey MacLean:
- Kelsey MacLean polo in 100% Pima Cotton named “Prince George Inspired” by Vogue, click for more
NOTE: We currently have a sale on all items on our website!