Ole Miss Alum Kelly Wynne’s line of
U.S.A-made handbags combine classical looks and playful designs
Interview by Kathryn Winter
Photos by Andrew Chan
From Square Books to the Grove, Kelly Wynne’s purses can often be spotted on the shoulders of women walking around Oxford. Since starting her business in 2012, Wynne was awarded Austin’s Rising Fashion Star during the 2014 Austin Fashion Week and has been featured in publications like Southern Living, Audrey, and Mississippi Magazine. Celebrity fans of her line include Kyle Richards of“The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”, who has been spotted wearing the Cloud 9 Clutch around Los Angeles.
Click Magazine: What inspired you to start your handbag line?
Kelly Wynne: I have always had a love for fashion, but never really envisioned myself as a designer when I was younger. In high school and especially college, I grew to love handbags and that’s when designing came into play. I would always accessorize my friends for every event, so I became known as the “Accessories Queen.” When I was little, I wanted to be an art teacher and I have always been passionate about creating, whether it’s painting, building something out of 3D materials, scrapbooking, etc. Little did I know this passion would lead me to designing handbags. I made several connections through the University of Mississippi and was able to land a great job immediately after college working for a boutique PR firm in Dallas. The environment was fast paced and ever changing, but I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do forever. Was designing handbags a realistic job with a clear-cut path? Definitely not, but I couldn’t shake the desire.
CM: How do you oversee day-to-day activities with your company?
KW: There is never a dull moment at Kelly Wynne Headquarters. People always ask what a typical day is like for me, but no day is ever the same. I honestly never know what each week may hold. It’s important for me to start out my mornings with quiet time to prepare me for any challenges or successes that might come my way. I may have the most rewarding day ever receiving positive feedback from a customer about her Kelly Wynne bag, or I may have a discouraging day putting out fires with the manufacturer. Being the boss means your responsibilities are endless, and I have to be ready to change gears at any moment and handle anything thrown my way.
CM: What are some unique characteristics that set your bags apart?
KW: Kelly Wynne handbags are proudly made in the USA. This classifies us among a very small, select list of designers. Our handbags are known for their bold prints and use of mixed materials and metallics.
CM: What inspired your fall collection?
KW: The Heartbeat Collection was inspired by the emotions associated with making a bold or daring move in life. Since people picture the city as a place where dreams become reality, I felt inspired by the characteristics of iconic cities: sleek silhouettes, dark shadows and bright lights. I want women to not only wear their Kelly Wynne handbags, but dare to do anything their heart desires.
CM: How do you feel when you see girls walking around on the Square with your bags?
KW: It’s such a surreal feeling. I honestly can’t even describe it. I want to stop and talk to each girl wearing a Kelly Wynne bag. I love interacting with my customers, so if you ever see me in Oxford, please say Hi.
CM: What advice could you give to inspire young women wanting to pursue a similar career?
KW: The biggest obstacle you can run into is doubt and fear of failure. Overcoming that initial fear that is created by that doubt was the biggest challenge, but one I was able to overcome with encouragement from friends, family, and the reliance on my faith. There are so many ups and downs in this business, but you have to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
CM: What are your goals for the future?
KW: We are opening our very first Kelly Wynne brick-and-mortar store this fall in Austin, Texas. I never in a million years thought we would be opening a store after three years in business, but here we are now. This has been a long-term goal of mine that is coming to life earlier than I expected. I’m thrilled customers will now be able to experience the Kelly Wynne brand in person.