Rising Fashion Star
Austin handbag designer dared to dream big — and it paid off
Editor’s note: This is the inaugural year for CultureMap’s Top Texans Under 30, a program that celebrates the twentysomething power players making a difference in their industries and communities across the Lone Star State — and, in some cases, the world. The full list is here. For now, read all about Kelly Wynne Ferguson.
Long before she launched her eponymous brand from her parents’ kitchen table, Kelly Wynne Ferguson was known as the “accessories queen.” With a knack for finding the perfect piece to top off just about any outfit, Ferguson has long been her friends’ go-to for finding an ensemble’s final touches.
While working in PR, she found that her ideal handbag styles weren’t available on the market. She also knew she didn’t want to work in PR forever. So in the spring of 2012, Ferguson began pursuing the dream that, even she admits, seemed fanciful.
Her hard work paid off quickly with the official launch of Kelly Wynne in April 2013. After the overwhelming reception she received via her online store, Ferguson began selling her handbags at exclusive boutiques around the state. In 2014, she was awarded Rising Fashion Star during Austin Fashion Week, and her first storefront opens this September at Domain Northside.
We caught up with the 29-year-old to learn more about what compels her to create beautiful pieces for women.
CultureMap: What inspires you to do what you do?
Kelly Wynne Ferguson: As both the business owner and designer, I draw inspiration differently for my creative and professional work. On the creative side, the experience of starting with an artistic vision and later seeing someone on the street wearing the finished product is something that will always inspire me.
On the professional side, I’m continuously “wynnespired” by other women in business. After a happy hour with a fellow boss lady, I leave fired up and full of ideas. It’s important to surround yourself with like-minded people when you are working toward something big. Their encouragement and inspiration keep me pushing toward my goals.
CM: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to other Texans trying to start a business?
KWF: Don’t let fear hold you back. The biggest obstacles when starting your own business are doubt and fear of failure — doubt from your peers, potential investors, and of course, the ever-present self-doubt. Once you choose to let encouragement from others drive you instead of fear, you realize that your passion is able to overshadow any hesitations completely.
CM: Sum up Texas in three words:
KWF: God. Bless. Texas.
CM: What’s one thing that people might not know about you?
KWF: I’m passionate about giving back. Through Kelly Wynne, I have been able to impact multiple organizations by giving back with my time and product. We’re working with one of the most well-respected organizations in Austin, Helping Hand Home for Children. When the retail store launches this fall, each piece from my new line Dear 512 — my love letter to Austin — will come with a custom dust bag and an information card about the Helping Hand Home for Children and our special project.
CM: Finish this sentence: “It’s a good day when … ”
KWF: It’s a good day when I have the opportunity to escape from the city life and relax at my family’s place in the country with loved ones. And it’s a good day when I meet an enthusiastic customer who loves my designs. It makes my heart smile!
RSVP now for the CultureMap Social: Top Texans Under 30 Edition, October 25 at 800 Congress, to celebrate Ferguson and her fellow Austin winners.