Kelli wears the Catia Top in Whisper White
Kelli and I first met when she had applied for a job at our textile studio. Her amazing, vivid personal style totally caught my attention. She has a love of all things quirky, cute, and kitsch - somehow contrasted with restraint and simplicity. I loved seeing how she mixed the Spring collection with camo and bright pops of color. Read more to hear about her career path, and tips for signature style!
What brought you from Hawaii to Philadelphia? Honestly, I had enough of island life, as crazy as that sounds. It’s very isolating, and far from my family. I wanted to try out the East Coast, my parents lived in NYC and I had some coworkers who were originally from Philly but living in Hawaii who found me a roommate. I moved here knowing no one and fell in love with the city. I’ve been here for 8 years now!
What did you learn from helping to grow a local business (Jinxed) from something small to a highly-recognized staple of the city with four locations? How did that affect the trajectory of your career? Working at Jinxed was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. I came in at a super low level, working part time between shifts waiting tables. Three years later I was a general manager in charge of an entire staff of humans and multiple physical storefronts. I loved working hard for a business I believed in and was invested in, and gaining recognition for changing the game of vintage a bit using social media. I learned to think like your customer, buy what you love, and you can pretty much ratchet strap anything to the top of your car. More importantly I learned to hire people who really care about what your business does, and who bring even bigger and better ideas to the table.
What drew you to print making? Process. I fell in love with the archaic form of intaglio printmaking because there was something so lovely about every step. In the beginning my end results never really satisfied me, I realized I just enjoyed the meditative process of preparing the plates for acid baths and engraving, and inking for printing.
What do you enjoy about having a career working for a creative business? Having a work culture that fosters creativity is just so inspiring. I’m in awe of our designers every day. It’s incredible watching artists at work and their focus and commitment to creating a beautiful product.
Do you have creative outlets outside of work? How do you incorporate creativity into your everyday life? I’m definitely guilty of not continuing to create art after college, I dreamed of having a screen printing studio but fell more into buying, retail and customer service. I did make a goal last year to shake the dust off my sewing machine and complete a dress from a pattern and finally did it! I do also love collecting art and supporting local and contemporary artists. I buy a ton of artwork, and make sure I’m always surrounded by bright creative energy in my home.
What advice would you give a younger woman looking to begin a career in your industry? Don’t underestimate yourself. I used to be so worried about submitting a resume that had “bartender” or “retail associate,” but those jobs gave me strength in the role I have now; customer facing, able to anticipate client needs, and ability to talk to anyone! You’ll never start unless you go, so try.
What’s it like working in an office with almost all women? I love it. Women or not, Printfresh has provided me with a whole crew of new friends who make me die laughing and inspire me daily. It’s also helpful to know someone probably has a tampon on them just in case.
What are your favorite local makers/shops/brands in Philadelphia and beyond that keep your personal style inspired? I’ve always been a big thrifter, but Vagabond always has great priced vintage when I’m not in the mood to dig! And anyone on our sales team will tell you, I am the poster child for Buffalo Exchange. Everyone knocks it, but you can really find some gems if you peruse long enough! Yowie is my new favorite store in Philly on Fabric Row. I also like to pop into men’s stores like Lapstone and Hammer. Boys have my favorite fashion right now.
What are a few pieces that you feel your wardrobe would not be complete without? My big gold bamboo hoops and a good bold lip color. Comfort is my number one priority, I wish I could walk in heels every day but I’m very much a sneaker girl. I also live in my Modern Vice/Breaking Hearts Burning Rubber motorcycle boots, which were made by a woman motorcyclist who wanted stylish but durable road boots, and they’re made in the Garment District in NYC!
Kelli wears the Alma Jacket in Denim Stripe