Monday, July 31, 2017

Kiel James Patrick Flagship Store, Newport

















Kiel and I started Kiel James Patrick in May of 2007. It's crazy to think we have been building this business for ten years. We were two kids with just a sewing machine, and an American-made dream. Our first product was a fabric bracelet crafted out of Kiel's grandfathers vintage neckties and old novelty ribbon belts, stitched together with a plaid lining on the inside, and fastened with a button. These designs were sold at craft fairs across New England. At the very first show, we sold out of the bracelets and spent the next week scouring for more vintage ties at local thrift stores. In those days we spent a lot of time at thrift stores. The money earned that summer was used to invest in woven labels, a signature plaid bracelet lining, custom brass buttons with the Kiel James Patrick logo and name, and wood displays built by Kiel and his grandfather. From the onset we understood how much every detail would matter, and branding was very important to us.

The next couple of years were spent on the sewing machine. Kiel taught himself how to sew by reading books and practice. I ironed and prepped every bracelet. In our spare time we cold called accounts and stopped by local stores to sell our designs. While we managed to set up a few accounts, we quickly learned that most buyers were not interested in speaking to us without having a proper company website. Up until that point a brand brochure was left at every prospective account.


Moving a couple of years forward, a company website was completed in 2009. During the process of building the site, we learned the importance of social media to build brand awareness. We collaborated with bloggers to promote early designs, and began setting up photo shoots with friends and family to showcase the brands lifestyle. Similar to sewing, Kiel didn’t know how to use a camera or edit pictures but he was determined to learn. The first photos were shot with a Canon Rebel and mainly displayed on the website and Facebook until they started getting shared across the internet. We didn't realize it at the time but it was the start of a separate business. 
Kiel James Patrick steadily grew as a result of our early social media efforts combined with the success of the original fabric bracelet, sailing rope belts, and an updated Turks head bracelet fastened with a button. I have so many pictures from the early days that I would love to share at some point as they are pre-Tumblr, Pinterest, and Classy Girls Wear Pearls. In the Fall of 2010 Tommy Hilfiger featured the line of bracelets in their Meet the Hilfiger’s Campaign. It was our first big account and great exposure. Within a few months Orvis picked up the line of sailing belts for their stores, and Ralph Lauren featured a belt on the front page of their website. 
In 2012, at exactly the same time as I started this blog, we introduced the anchor rope bracelets. This simple design changed the company overnight. We went from working out of our house, with family and friends helping us package orders, to opening our factory and hiring real employees. Starting this business has been one giant learning experience. As we continue to grow I realize how much more there is to learn. With growth there are always new challenges. Kiel and I were never formally taught business (I double majored in creative writing and journalism), and had to learn the ropes, figuratively and literally, through a lot of trial and error and wonderful mentors willing to give advice. We have never had an investor, or funding from family. This brand has been entirely self-funded. Every decision we make counts, our successes and failures not only effect us but our 30 employees. 
Returning to the topic of the anchor rope bracelet, this design was the start of a new chapter. When we released that collection on a snowy night in January of 2012 we could not have imagined the response we received (a year later our line was carried in every Brooks Brothers store). The bracelets blew up instantly and were spread virally across Pinterest and Tumblr. Orders were pouring in and we were not prepared for the volume. Through sheer determination we managed to find a way to make it work. I remember hardly sleeping those nights. With a limited supply of rope, we kept up with orders by dyeing white cotton rope in lobster pots in our backyard. The rope was tightly spun using a make shift drill and baked in the oven. The fumes were unbearable and the amount of rope that could be produced each day was limited. It was quite the challenge. After the rope was dried, we would hand-twist the colors together as many of our bracelets were not solid colors. The day we found a source to make our rope was a beautiful day. 
This design continues to be a staple of ours. It's been copied many times, and we are fortunate to have it trademarked. I could write a whole chapter on battling the imitation bracelets. You know you've made it when China manufacturers knock off your design right down to the brand name and Made in America insignia. 
A lot has happened since we introduced that anchor bracelet and opened our factory in Pawtucket, RI, which we continue to operate out of today. The initial success of the anchor bracelet waned, as fashion constantly demands something new. I wouldn't have it any other way. We continue to design new American-made products and we're fortunate that the anchor bracelet was not a one hit wonder. Since the anchor bracelet, we have  introduced pearl bracelets, which became just as popular as the rope bracelets, pet products, hand-painted phone cases, shoes and clothing. Most of our accessories are made in- house, with some being outsourced to local vendors. These days our biggest challenge is keeping our clothing items in stock. We started off as a bracelet company and now clothing is a huge part of our business. 
There is so much to this story that I could never cover it in a single post. It's been a very long and exciting road with more to come. With a little one on the way I plan to continue blogging when I find the time, alongside expanding our line. Kiel and I have so many dreams for Kiel James Patrick! 
With this post I'm thrilled to introduce our flagship store. It's been many years in the making. We always knew we wanted to open a store but it was never the right time... until this past January. Our dream location in Bowen's Wharf, Newport finally became available and we knew it was meant to be. Formerly the Narragansett, it was the first place we ever contacted in 2008 to carry our bracelet line. We were turned down, but we got there eventually :) After months of construction and planning, we opened our doors to the public on June 15th. It's a thrill to share these images of our space with my readers. We wanted to bring a little slice of our factory decor to the public. 
In honor of the store opening, Kiel and I are hosting our first meet and greet on Thursday August 1oth from 5-7pm at the store located on 3 Bowens Wharf, Newport, RI. RSVP with customerservice@KielJamesPatrick.com if you plan to attend. We hope to see some of you there! 

41 comments:

  1. I've been following your business since 2010, it's so great to hear about the beginning in your own words! So excited to see what the future holds for you and Kiel! https://katiefromboston.com

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  2. Wow, you've come such a long way!! Congratulations on these huge news and new step on your road to dreams coming true! May your flagship store opening be a wonderful event! :)

    https://lartoffashion.com/how-to-wear-a-triangle-bag/

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  3. Such a cool place ! Congrats <3 and love your outfit !

    'Share' by August Harvest
    Instagram

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  4. OMG congrats!!! This is amazing!! If I am ever in Newport (I love it there!), I definitely want to stop by and check out the store!

    www.rdsobsessions.com

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  5. Great story of hard work. Love your stuff and the brand.

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  6. LOVE this post! I've been following along with you guys since about 2012. I first stumbled upon your blog and then my husband (then boyfriend) found the KJP rope bracelets. It's now a tradition that I get something from KJP every year for my birthday! I LOVE what you guys have done with your brand and am inspired everyday by you both! Thank you for sharing this post! I can't wait to see what you guys do next!

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  7. Congratulations to you and Kiel on all you have accomplished together! You have inspired me so much through your blog and I love everything I purchase from KJP!

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  8. Aww such a cute store! I love it <3

    https://www.myblackcloset.com/

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  9. I've only been a fan for about 4 years but even in that short amount of time I'm continually impressed and inspired by everything the two of you accomplish! Congratulations on such a big year of personal and professional growth! Here's to KJP and many more stores to come! xo -RKC

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  10. Sarah, what a beautiful story you and Kiel will get to share with your kids. It is the true American dream story. It gave tears to my eyes, I am impressed by both of yours talent and you seem a very humble couple. Congratulations and I wish you tons of successes.

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  11. Such a huge milestone for you guys! Truly amazing and inspiring!

    Paige
    http://thehappyflammily.com

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  12. I love this story! I have been a long time follower of your blog, actually I have to admit I am slightly obsessed with it (of course in the non-creepy way lol). With other blogs I find that I get bored and usually move on, but yours is always so full of light-hearted fun, and beauty, both people and nature. Honestly, looking at your blog brings me happiness. On August 12th I will graduate from NP school and you don't know how many times through this stressful journey that I've taken a break from writing papers, or doing some inane assignment to just come to your blog for a respite from my own hectic world! One day I hope to open my own practice and though the medical field is nothing like the fashion world, one thing I do hope to bring into my practice is the fun and camaraderie that I see in your employees and your store. I am so happy for your success. Here's to many more successful years!
    Candi
    https://nursingschoolinsandouts.blogspot.com/

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  13. Such and inspiring story. Congratulations!

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  14. So inspriring!! I've been following you and Kiel on Instagram for about 2 years, and even in that short period of time I've seen so much growth in your guy's business! Congrats and glad you guys have opened a store!!

    Gabby Brown
    gabbypreps.blogspot.com

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  15. CONGRATS! MAZEL TOV! It's been an amazing journey to follow

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  16. Your story is great and so is your new store! Congratulations on so many things: the store, the new baby, great success, etc. Wish I could come to the meet and greet; will make it to the store soon, I hope.

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  17. Thank you for sharing your story! There was so much more to it than I'd assumed, but it's obvious you are hard working and very detailed. I wanted to share a few tips from my experience working in retail that I hope will help your new store. First, invest in some folding boards. You'll need different sizes for sweaters and tees. Second, have your associates trained to check your gorgeous fitting rooms, all that beautiful fabric may become a shoplifters dream for hiding sensors and tags. Third, invest in a couple neutral pairs of shoes for your mannequins. Make sure to black out the labels so they aren't mistakenly sold or counted in an inventory. Otherwise the styling in the new store is incredible! Great job.

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  18. If ever given me will be nearby I will definitely visit! :) love it

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  19. Your brand and product is great and your photography is outstanding!! Congrats!

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  20. What an inspiring story! I had no idea this was a true from-the-ground-up learn-as-you-go business. Good for you! The fact that your products are American made is really amazing. I love your blog and you guys even more.

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  21. Congratulations to you both!! What an incredible story and post. You two are a quintessential example of American exceptionalism. Thank you for sharing it!

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  23. You guys have worked for every ounce of your success, and I couldn't be more excited for what the future might bring for y'all! Please don't forget to share those "early days" photos sometime ; )

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  24. I am so glad you shared this story! I found you a few months into my blogging journey at the end of 2012 (my blog turns five tomorrow) and found about KJP through CGWP! I have loved following your story - from your European fairytale engagement (I can still picture the jeweled coat the fireworks) to the wedding and now the little one on the way! Congratulations on all of the amazing success you have had and I can't wait to see what comes next! Oh, and please do a meet and greet the next time you are in NYC!

    xx Kelly
    Sparkles and Shoes

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  25. I have been following you and Kiel since 2009. Honestly you two have made the American dream. I am very happy for you both! Building your brand with social media and staying up to date with the current trends while creating your own is truly amazing! Newport is the perfect place for your store & one of my favorite places in the US. I will be in Newport for my wedding at Castle Hill this month and cannot wait to stop in and see the store! I wish you both the best of luck & congrats on your little one!
    Best, Kristina Ann

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  26. Congrats!! It's been such a delight following your journey. My favorite part of KjP is the amazing creative eye you have for the lifestyle imagery. Everything is my picture of perfect - the classic American life. Wishing you and Kiel the absolute best in this next chapter of parenthood and your business. I live in Seattle but the thought did cross my mind to come see the store for your meet and greet. Can't make it this time but I'd love to get out there at some point!

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  27. the store looks so beautiful
    amazing origin story!! I've been reading your blog since the early days and it's amazing to see how far you and Kiel have come!
    xx
    http://anoddgirl.blogspot.com.au

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  28. It looks absolutely stunningg! You guys did such a great job at it :) I'd love to come and visit one day!


    www.wildfirecharm.com

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  29. Alwas love your posts! ;)

    www.evdaily.blogspot.com

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  30. You two are an amazing story of hard work and dedication, so grateful to read it and be inspired by your creativity and perseverance. Congratulations on the two new babies in your life!

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  31. CONGRATS!!! This is a fantastic story. Thanks for sharing.

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  32. I'm so happy for you guys and all the best with the store.

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  33. Great post! I've been following you for years!

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  34. Congratulations! Such a great story and I wish you the best of luck with the new store. I will definitely stop in next time I am in Newport and I hope that darling doggie will be there to greet me!
    Shelley

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  35. Congratulations! What an amazing story of hard work and wonderful, creative American-made products! We visited the store last week and fell in love. It's FABULOUS! The decor is perfect. And of course, we didn't leave empty-handed!
    We also started a home-based business that has grown over the past 10 years just a bit north, in Franklin, MA. It truly is a labor of love. Wishing you all the very best with the new store and the continued growth of the business. xo

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  36. Congrats! Love your brand! Have been following your journey for a lon time. Wishing you much more success. All made in the USA!

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  37. Wow that is SO inspiring! I've only been following for the past few years (I LOVE your unique pictures and shoots!) so it's wonderful to get to hear the whole story. The true American Dream and all self-funded. Amazing! Congrats and keep it up!!

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  38. Congratulations!

    https://brightdecember.blogspot.com/

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  39. Your store looks so amazing, I love the decor
    xo
    www.laurajaneatelier.com

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  40. I love this post! So interesting to hear the details of how KJP came to be.

    xx
    Sheila
    http://levoyageuralamode.blogspot.ca/

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  41. I still remember the first time I spotted your anchor bracelet at my local Brooks Brothers store and googling the company as soon as I got home. I've been a fan ever since and love how you both embody the brand. I didn't realize the brand's homegrown roots, which makes me appreciate it even more. Best of luck to you both!

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