In 1988, Holly Brown was working full-time in sales, when she decided to open up a “side business." Thirty years later, that side business is Kaly Clothing, the go-to clothing, gift, and accessory boutique in Downtown West Chester, Pennsylvania.
Thirty years ago Holly noticed a need for more boutiques in the borough of West Chester. After traveling all over the world for her job, she had come in contact with a plethora of different stores that offered something different then the mainstream clothes you would find in department stores.
Noticing a need for diversity and a place for the locals to shop, Kaly was born. It wasn’t easy though. Running a boutique is hard work, let alone having a full time job on top of that is unheard of. Luckily, Holly had some help from her daughter Polly, who would helped to manage the store while she was in college. Holly balanced her two jobs for ten years before quitting her corporate sales job and deciding to focus on making Kaly the best boutique it could be.
Getting people to shop downtown back in 1988 was not an easy task. West Chester was not the thriving community it is today. In fact, it was fairly desolate with barely any shops and restaurants.
The Business Improvement District www.downtownwestchester.com was formed to help revitalize Downtown West Chester. Holly is still active on the board today and just finished serving her term as President. She also has spent eight years on the West Chester Borough Council, four of which, she spent as President. Holly also is the current Vice President at Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center www.uptownwestchester.org on High Street. She will be serving as President next year.
Holly had also decided to start a newsletter called ‘The Kaly Local News’ where she highlighted new clothing lines and information about Downtown West Chester. People loved it and it definitely helped create a consistent and loyal clientele. Holly has also advertised in ‘Fig’, www.figwestchester, a magazine that highlights local businesses in West Chester, for many years. The photos in this article are from the most recent issue where she was highlighted for having the longest running woman owned business! Girl Power!
It was not until five years ago Holly went to her daughter, Polly, with the idea of retiring. Polly, who worked twelve years in pharmaceuticals, had the idea to buy the store from her mom and take charge of the business. The first two years of Polly running the store, Holly worked a day or two in the store a week, but eventually retired. The transition was extremely smooth and now Holly is able to enjoy her retirement.
Polly knew that there was a reason Kaly has been around for thirty years and that has a lot to do with her mothers’ ability to make amazing connections with loyal clientele. Polly knew she had to respect the way her mother ran the business as well as incorporate more aspects of technology and promotion to keep up with the ever changing media scene.
One of the major tips Polly learned from her mom was the ability to notice the need for a product. For example, fifteen years ago, a bunch of gift stores popped up in town and Holly made the decision to stop selling gifts and add different inventory. Polly did the same thing a couple years ago when she noticed the need for baby clothes in town. She started selling an amazing collection of ethically made baby clothes almost immediately.
When asked about her main goal in keeping Kaly consistent with what her mother, Holly, established, Polly said… “I definitely want to emulate a lot of what she has done successfully and be sure to never lose all of amazing existing clients who have been so loyal to us over the years.”
Although Holly does not work in store anymore she will be writing a monthly newsletter to be featured on kalyclothing.com! She will highlight fashion, travel, and downtown information so keep a look out for the latest updates from Holly Brown! And be sure to follow us on Instagram and like us on Facebook @kalyclothing!