We have a special guest on our blog today: Kelli Murray! Kelli Murray the founder of the children's clothing line, Rylee and Cru, and a talented designer. She will be sharing with us her inspiration behind her line and experience with being a mommy and a business owner.
How did you develop your personal signature style, and what was the process like?
Funny enough, my style has evolved a ton from when I was younger. I went through a ‘street art’ stage in my early 20’s where I was inspired by graffiti artists like Fafi and Miss Van. I worked tirelessly on my illustration skills and fine art to discover a style I could call my own. It has definitely been a process and not something that ever came overnight for me….but after playing around with so many different mediums, what felt most ‘right’ for me was watercolor and pencil. Simple, innocent illustrations that are somewhat whimsical and sweet. I’m attracted to a more muted, earthy color palette and am most inspired by nature.
Tell us about an early story of when you knew you would be a designer?
Creativity has always come very natural to me, but I’d say the determining point in my life when I knew I wanted to be a designer was in high school. I started a ‘business’ where I’d take vintage fabrics and sew one of a kind skirts for all my friends. I’d take orders and let them pick out their favorite fabrics and then turn them into any skirt style they requested. I knew then that I wanted to work in the fashion industry in some capacity.
What’s one discovery (behavior, belief, or habit that you’ve adopted) that has most positively impacted you as a creative? What about a mother?
For me, it has been following my heart and not letting others opinions affect my own. Not everyone is going to love what you do….but if YOU love it, there is bound to be others that do too. As a mother, I have been forced to really maximize my time at work and at home. It’s hard to force creativity, but when you have little babies waiting for you back at home, it gives you the push to get through creative blocks and not wallow in design decisions. Productivity has been ramped up tenfold :)
We absolutely love collaborating with R+C on the collection and the response to all our new goods has been awesome! What do you think has contributed to the overall success of Rylee + Cru?
The whole conception and growth of Rylee & Cru has been really organic from the start. It’s a family business (my dad handles sales, I handle design, and obviously my kids were the reason I was inspired to start this brand in the first place). I can’t point to one thing that has accounted for our success over the years….I think it’s been a collection of things. Social media and a loyal customer base has been really really good to us. Our artwork is original (all patterns are hand drawn by me) and I try to create clothes that mothers would love just as much as their kids do. I’ve also tried to keep very consistent in our branding and visuals so that new customers can really get a sense for who we are right away. We are obviously still learning and growing but it has certainly been a good ride so far.
What are some things about your background that people don’t know that may have gotten you to this point of success?
I went to school at the fashion industry of design and merchandise and graduated with a degree in product development. I worked for my dad for 6 years for a clothing brand straight out college. He owned a screen printing factory and also worked with clothing brands (ever since I was a baby) and as I grew up, I was always really intrigued by what he did. I worked as a graphic designer and merchandiser so I became very familiar with the way a brand operated. After I gave birth to my daughter, I decided to go on my own and pursue my art full time so that I could work from home as a new mother. I did everything from custom illustrations to logos to website design. Pretty early on into motherhood I knew I wanted to merge my background in fashion design and illustration and create a children’s line of my own one day. 3 years later and one week after the birth of my son Cru, the brand was launched and the rest is history :)
How do you balance your creative vision while building a viable company?
I think it’s because I follow my creative vision and see it through, that we have created a viable company. It comes from an authentic place. I am a mother with young kids and I create things that I would want them to wear. And I think other mothers resonate with that.
What’s a personal/family struggle that you’ve persevered through? How did that affect your mission and mindset?
My husband and I both own our own businesses. If any of you out there are like us, you know what a challenge that is while trying to raise a family. Juggling all of our responsibilities with work and at home is still, and will probably always be, a challenge for us. It’s hard to find time for the two of us to spend any sort of quality time with each other. Like, REALLY hard. What we have learned is to sync up our calendars and actually plan for this time away. I know it sounds so obvious, but you’d be surprised at how long we went without it. Time away with my family is some of my most treasured experiences. It makes it that much easier to jump back into work after we’ve been able to recharge and reconnect with each other in a meaningful way.
What does your community support system look like? Do you have mentors, mentees, peer groups?
Luckily, I live close to family who help out a ton with the kids or just whenever I need an extra hand. I’ve also got a core group of friends that I can go to with anything, who support me in work and in life.
How do you show support for your fellow women and mom’s even if they are your competitors?
I love supporting other moms and business owners because I know how hard it is and the sacrifices they have made to get there. Whether it’s just an encouraging comment on instagram or a kind word face to face. I’ve always found the success of other female entrepreneurs to be inspiring and motivating. Another person’s success shouldn’t threaten yours….count it as motivation and focus on doing what you do best.
What type of spiritual practice or routine do you engage in to keep you grounded and creative?
I read the bible and pray in the morning to start my day and get my head in the right mindset. I find that starting my day with thankfulness helps me to better manage anything that comes my way.
Check out our collaboration with Rylee and Cru here!
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