Adding some charm to our Guest House this Summer is Kiel James Patrick, founder & chief-designer of the popular Kiel James Patrick brand. We heard the buzz about KJP from friends a few Summers ago and watched the brand blossom – we were then delighted to see Kiel at Lilly Pulitzer’s 80th Birthday Party! (see the photo below) We fell in love with his designs and the story behind his brand and have since found one of our newest favorite fashion bloggers- Sarah Vickers (Classy Girls Wear Pearls). For now, learn all about Kiel James Patrick, but make sure to check back on Thursday to enter to win 1 of 2 one-of-a-kind KJP knot bracelets handcrafted using Lilly fabric!
1. Tell us about how Kiel James Patrick (the company ) got started.
Just a twinkle in my parents eyes during their trip to…. oh… wait… how the company got started… right… My interest in fashion sparked in high school selling outrageous patterned blazers and pants out of the trunk of my Jeep. The school cracked down on dress code once I had half my classmates strolling the halls like we were at the Caddy Shack country club. I then redirected my efforts to create eye-catching ties, belts and bracelets that could be worn to class under the uniform, in order to keep pushing the dress code beyond its limits. Once I was out of high school, Sarah and I decided to take my designs to the streets. We worked for several weeks at a time, making hundreds of bracelets to start selling all Summer long at Crafters Markets in Cape Cod. To our surprise we sold out of our bracelet stockpile in ONE day and the rest is history [in the making].
2. How is KJP differentiating itself in the fashion accessories business?
I feel there is something to be said for a product that is crafted in an environment that is true to the lifestyle aesthetic that a company creates for the consumer. Our employees carefully hand-package and ship the same products they wear themselves, from our factory to your door. Everyone here is behind the product and the brand 100%.
3. What has been your biggest revelation while establishing your brand?
I hadn’t realized that fashion production in the United States is pretty close to extinct. I had to wrap my mind around designing products that I could set up the production for here in Rhode Island, which has been quite the undertaking.
In the first year, I was limited to a single product that I could produce in a garage with only one sewing machine. I had a solid business plan and knew I didn’t want a boss, overhead or debt, so I stuck to sewing bracelets. The first bracelets were made of fabrics I had cut from my own collection of vintage neckties, belts and blazers. I sold these bracelets at craft shows which prompted us to build a website, create distribution channels to U.S. boutiques and ultimately produce for worldwide distribution. It’s all about improving ideas, our products and our branding each day. I firmly believe in keeping my brand “American Made” and have been working hard towards finding the machinery required to build my own production factory here in New England.
America is full of skilled craftsman. My dream is to find as many of them as possible, put them to work and learn to become one myself. I do not feel true, authentic, handcrafted details and quality are easy to find these days. As my line expands, I will prove that classic originality, quality and brand integrity will position value to overcome price. A quote that my friend Carlos, from Phoenix Tanning and Leather, has as his company’s slogan really stuck with me: “The Bitterness of Poor Quality Remains Long After The Sweetness of Low Price is Forgotten”.
4. How did you score an invite to Lilly Pulitzer’s 80th Birthday Party (photo above!)?
I was actually shocked. The Lilly Pulitzer Museum down in Palm Beach was hosting an 80th Birthday Party for Lilly and requested I attend with my crew to give a few words of appreciation to Lilly’s efforts and how as a young fashion designer her path has given me guidance and inspiration. It was quite flattering to be included in such a historical event and lead everyone in singing Happy Birthday to Lilly Pulitzer herself!
5. What can we expect from the KJP brand in the years to come?
A pirate ship. I will soon bring my operation out to the treacherous and lawless sea.
6. Tell us a little bit more about the one-of-a-kind Lilly bracelets you’re giving away and why you wanted to create them?
Next Spring, we will be releasing a collection of knot bracelets that feature woven fabrics interlaced. We wanted to give something to the Lilly/KJP fans by combining Lilly Pulitzer’s classic prints with KJP’s braids and knots for a one-of-a-kind collection that can only be won in this contest. Essentially, we’re giving away a piece of fashion history!
7. When you’re not running KJP, what do you enjoy doing?
I’m constantly working with Sarah on her blog Classy Girls Wear Pearls and enjoy improving my photography while exploring New England to bring Sarah’s fans new style ideas and charming travel destinations.
8. Where can Lilly Lovers stay up to date on everything KJP?
On Classy Girls Wear Pearls, KielJP on Instagram, KJP on Facebook and KielJP on Twitter will pretty much have you covered
Tune in on Thursday for your chance to win!