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Rebel Alum Kelly Wynne Wins the Day with Handbag Business

Every year, students graduate from the University of Mississippi and go on to accomplish great things. Ole Miss is known for their outstanding graduates who achieve their dreams and make a name for themselves.

kelly wynne3Kelly Wynne White Ferguson, who recently married, is one of those graduates. Kelly graduated cum laude from Ole Miss in 2009 with a major in studio art, focused on graphic design and a minor in mass media communications. At first, Kelly thought she wanted to work for a magazine, but after a summer internship in New York City, she realized designing page layouts for magazines was not her passion.

“I loved graphic design,” Kelly said, “and I was extremely fortunate to land a great job with a boutique PR firm in Dallas soon after graduation when the job market was at an all-time low. This job prepared me for branding my own company. I was able to hone in on my graphic design skills and ultimately designed my own logo.”

In April 2013, Kelly started her company, Kelly Wynne, LLC with a line of handbags, sketched and designed by Kelly, individually made by hand in the USA with printed leather combinations, also designed by Kelly. “It was one of those life-long dreams I had in the back of mind but never really thought would happen,” Kelly said.

After three years of working at the same PR firm, Kelly was ready to pursue her dream. “I met with an older friend, who I considered my mentor, and she asked what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I finally blurted out that my dream was to design handbags,” Kelly said. At that moment, Kelly realized that fear had been holding her back from taking the first steps towards accomplishing her dream.

kellywynne5Kelly recommends to others who wish to pursue their dream that they begin by recognizing their fear and face it head-on, make a plan/goals, reach out to older, wiser, more experienced people in the field, use their contacts, be curious, ask thousands of questions, meet with anyone and everyone, but most important of all is to simply put one foot in front of the other in order to just get started.

Kelly began by doing all of the above, such as meeting with more established designers, retailers, leather suppliers, manufacturers, basically anyone she thought was even remotely involved with the business of fashion. “I gathered so much information during that research period. It was like a snowball effect. Each meeting led to either another contact or another piece of vital information, no matter how trivial.”

Kelly Wynne1“Stingray skin was my first inspiration as I loved that look, but I knew the cost of exotic skin was prohibitive to many. I wanted to create handbags in an affordable price range made with leather mimicking exotics in a cost-conscious, luxe and eye-catching way,” Kelly said. The signature material of most KW handbags is printed suede, which allows Kelly to design the patterns for her leathers. By using a unique transfer process, the patterns, which are made of various materials, are then applied onto the leather to achieve the look of stingray, cobra, python, boa, gilded cork, lace and others.

Kelly Wynne gathers inspiration for her handbag and leather designs from everyday life experiences. “My latest collection, called ‘Chromatic Release’, is about being stress-free. One way I like to relieve stress is by throwing paint on a white canvas. These handbags feature a lot of splattered paint looks, brush strokes, and paint drips. After my wedding last summer, I am working on balancing married life with being an entrepreneur and designer. Thus, my inspiration for this collection was my own life, as I am continuously striving to eliminate unnecessary stress,” Kelly said.

10922645_936996483011576_819650657215097367_nKelly Wynne has many short and long term goals. Among the top is continuing to establish brand awareness, perfecting her bags, designing new innovative styles, and staying on top of her rapidly growing business. Additionally, Kelly said she would love to open a flagship store in Austin, Texas. Designing other items such as accessories, jewelry, shoes, and scarves are in her plans as well.

KW handbags are very popular in Dallas, Houston, and Austin, Texas, but also in Mississippi as well. Word of mouth in the South has really helped bring awareness to the Kelly Wynne brand. “Ole Miss girls have been a huge help in spreading the word. They are telling their friends at other schools, which is helping to bring the brand into those areas,” Kelly said.

“Kelly Wynne launched less than two years ago, yet has grown exponentially. I have my sight set on further expansion of the brand up the East coast,” says Kelly.

“My experience at Ole Miss really helped me in starting my own company. I love having the Ole Miss connection. I am proud to be a member of the very supportive Ole Miss Alumni. My parents are Ole Miss grads, as well as most of my extended family. I was raised attending Ole Miss football games and spending holidays in the Delta where both sets of my grandparents live,” Kelly said.

Kelly Wynne handbags are currently carried at multiple stores throughout Mississippi. Specifically in Oxford, the handbags are sold at Cicada For Her on the Square. A complete inventory of all styles of Kelly Wynne bags may be purchased on her website, where you will find a list of the 41 retail shops, located in 11 states, that also carry KW handbags.

Cicada For Her will be hosting a trunk show for Kelly Wynne on Double Decker weekend. This would be a great opportunity to not only pick up an amazing Kelly Wynne handbag, but also to meet Kelly Wynne who will be there all day Friday, April 23 and Saturday, April 24. Now… ‘Dare to be fabulous!’ as the girls at KWHQ like to say!

Lindsey Andrews is a HottyToddy.com staff reporter and can be reached at lnandre1@go.olemiss.edu.

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