Kelly Dempsey climbed the fashion ladder on season 14 of the hit present, “Project Runway.” The one self-taught designer that season, Kelly made it to the finale and confirmed off her fearless, distinctive model and inventive strategy to clothes. Present mentor Tim Gunn has even gone on report in a 2015 interview saying she had the very best assortment of the finalists. Her humor and realness, alongside with her nickname Kelly from the Deli, helped solidify her following.
Following her success on Project Runway, she launched her enterprise, Rack Addik. Her distinctive tackle streetwear, stuffed with attention-grabbing blends of patterns and materials, stood out in a crowded area. She takes satisfaction in her strategy, all the time making an attempt to include thrift retailer finds to normalize used clothes and not contribute to the waste seen with quick fashion.
On the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Kelly, a local Massachusettsan, shifted her enterprise plans and started working on masks to donate to first responders, finally donating 1000’s of masks.
Learn on to be taught extra about Kelly and her strategy to enterprise and fashion.
This interview has been gently edited for readability.
GoDaddy: What’s the elevator pitch for your online business? Describe what you do.
Kelly Dempsey: I create unconventional fashion that’s enjoyable and makes you are feeling good! Clothes is without doubt one of the first issues somebody sees once they meet somebody so it’s essential to unfold these sparkly good vibes round!
GD: What impressed you to begin your online business? How did you get it began?
KD: I grew up in a extremely small city the place I wore lots of hand-me-downs that I might discover from the native thrift retailer. I might get picked on in class for sporting the opposite children’ “used clothes” and I bear in mind it was a extremely laborious factor for me to deal with contemplating that’s all I needed to put on.
I additionally actually favored sporting thrift retailer garments as I all the time had enjoyable rummaging via the 50 cent bins!
On the similar time, my mom turned half of our home into an precise craft retailer and we even had hours on our entrance door. My mother would make something from wind chimes produced from silverware she discovered at yard gross sales to wreaths and such.
I used to be about 9 when the bullying occurred for the second-hand clothes, so as a substitute of dealing with it and being a sufferer, I took the instruments from watching my mom flip trash to treasure and began recreating all my hand-me-downs.
I felt such a spark of empowerment that I used to be ready to determine a option to overcome the bullying with the means I had that I consider that is the place my ardour is derived from.
I nonetheless love working with thrift retailer clothes in hopes to normalize it and additionally save the environment within the meantime as quick fashion makes up 10% of all humanity’s carbon emissions.
GD: What successes have you ever had up to now? What impression did they’ve on your online business?
KD: I might say my best success could be Project Runway. From getting on the present to attending to runner-up, all whereas being the one self-taught designer, is one thing I’ll all the time be tremendous happy with.
Instantly following, I launched Rack Addik and the popularity from Project Runway positively catapulted my model proper from the beginning.
I used to be by no means a enterprise proprietor so it was positively a studying lesson, and nonetheless is!
I can truthfully say I’ve had much more “failures” than successes all through my profession however all “failures” have a goal with a view to develop and be taught. Failure is only a option to redirect you to the place it is best to as a substitute be specializing in.
GD: The place do you see your online business in 5 years? 10 years?
I see Rack Addik increasing and creating a powerful impressed group of individuals sporting what makes them really feel good, not constrained to any labels, and feeling empowered by what they’re sporting.
GD: What’s your favourite factor about what you do?
KD: My favourite factor about what I do is I get to create freely and be my very own boss.
It has been a studying course of and will proceed to be, however I’m grateful for each little bit of it.
GD: How has your online business modified for the reason that onset of the pandemic? How has the response been from prospects?
KD: My enterprise positively modified very a lot as quickly because the pandemic hit.
I had a 2020 plan to create a handbag line and had every thing lined up able to go till I realized concerning the masks scarcity. I put my plans on maintain whereas I organized over 100 volunteers to assist me sew masks remotely for frontline employees nationwide.
Collectively, we donated over 3,000 masks to first responders.
I created a Google doc with the checklist of hospitals, police stations, and immune-compromised individuals in determined want of a masks. Every volunteer had entry to the doc so all of us labored collectively to cross off and get out as many masks as doable.
Additionally, as quickly because the protests occurred after George Floyd’s homicide, I created a black sequin masks and donated 100% of the proceeds to The Conscious Kid, a nonprofit that helps educate our youth about racial equality.
I made every masks myself and raised over $2,000 for the Black Lives Matter motion.
GD: What’s the most rewarding a part of what you do?
KD: Probably the most rewarding a part of what I do is encourage others to additionally observe their coronary heart and consider something is feasible.
Attending to the place I’m with out a school diploma, very restricted funds, and zero connections was not simple however I all the time believed I might make a profession out of doing what I like.
Once we align with a particular intention on what evokes us, it’s essential to remain in that inventive power stream as a lot as doable to draw conditions, individuals, and the rest to assist us develop and thrive.
GD: What’s your favourite piece you’ve made and why?
KD: That’s a tough query, however I must say the Brooklyn Bridge dress I made on “Project Runway”, primarily due to the danger I took making it in addition to the brief timeframe I needed to full it.
GD: Who’s your preferrred buyer and why?
KD: My preferrred buyer is somebody who doesn’t fear about what others consider them. They reside by the beat to their very own drum and put on clothes that elevates their temper.
They perceive the significance of sluggish fashion and recognize how we’re all completely different, so sporting distinctive items is a enjoyable means they will categorical themselves.
GD: How do you discover new prospects?
KD: I consider customer support is a very powerful facet of operating a enterprise as word-of-mouth spreads extremely quick.
I take lots of satisfaction in every and each person who has ever purchased a chunk from me as I put lots of love into every thing I put out.
I additionally discover giveaways are a good way to generate new followers and will also be lots of enjoyable.
GD: How do you retain your prospects coming again?
KD: Nice customer support!
I all the time attempt to go the additional mile once I can to let the shopper know the way a lot I recognize their assist.
This being not solely my livelihood but in addition a craft I vastly get pleasure from, their assist actually does imply every thing to me.
GD: How has social media helped construct your online business?
KD: I’m so appreciative of Project Runway as my social media has grown vastly after my season aired.
Instagram is a good platform I take advantage of to advertise new designs and updates I’ve occurring with my model.
GD: What’s your studio set-up?
KD: I used to hire out a studio to design out of, however as soon as area opened up at my house, I used to be in a position to relocate my studio there.
I like having my studio at house because it makes it tremendous handy each time a inventive thought could spark up.
Plus, the commute is nice!
GD: Describe your day-to-day work routine.
KD: Working from house was positively difficult in the beginning as
it may be very easy to get distracted with family obligations all through the day.
I’ve solved that problem by filling out an hour-by-hour define the night time earlier than displaying what my workday will appear to be so there is no such thing as a time for distractions.
Additionally so simple as it sounds, regardless that I’m not leaving the home, getting dressed for work actually helps shift that mindset from leisure to work mode.
GD: How do you calm down exterior of labor?
KD: I like being energetic and in nature!
I typically drive to the seashore even within the winter and stroll the shore listening to my favourite podcasts.
I like to be taught quite a bit concerning the energy of our minds and how we’re all creators of our actuality.
It’s essential to shift our mindsets to take a look at positives with a view to set us up for fulfillment.
I hope to within the close to future train about this subject not directly to assist empower others.
GD: How do you steadiness your work and private life?
KD: I’ve all the time labored odd jobs and checked out them as steps to get me to the place I need to be relating to work.
I’m tremendous grateful I’m in a spot now the place I can create artwork for work and get up on daily basis doing what I like.
When I’m not working I’m enjoyable and studying methods to continue to grow so I can guarantee success in my future.
GD: The place do you flip for inspiration?
KD: To get impressed, I prefer to take a stroll someplace exterior listening to one thing motivational. My thoughts simply takes off with all kinds of concepts more often than not.
Additionally, a enjoyable trick I try this helps artists is that if I see one thing that evokes me, even when it’s a crack within the cement, I take an image of it.
Put a folder collectively of all of the pics that impressed you not directly and made you are feeling a sure means. Flip via that e book while you want inspiration and that ought to completely assist spark one thing.
GD: What recommendation do you will have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
KD: Belief the method.
Typically when issues don’t work out, they’re truly coming collectively.
Additionally, it’s essential to by no means assume all of it. The second you assume all of it is the second you cease rising. All the time know there’s a lot extra to be taught, so it’s essential to maintain an open thoughts.
Thanks Kelly for taking the time to talk with us. Be sure you observe Kelly on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. You should buy her designs at rackaddik.com.
Picture by: Textile created by Kelly Dempsey