Throw a two carat rock in Scottsdale and you'll hit a fashion-conscious woman. But with Betsey Johnson, Gucci and Barney's New York already in place at Fashion Square, it's hard to find successful local designers catering to the Phoenix market. Kiss the Girl is one notable exception. I bought my first Kiss the Girl tee at a kiosk in Fashion Square a few years back and later spotted their cute retro designs on the runway at Phoenix Fashion Week.
Click through to read more about this family-owned company and how you can go from hawking your own jewelry or clothes at farmers' markets to scoring your own store.
Cutie pie Garrett is a fixture at the Scottsdale store.
|Cutie pie Garrett is a fixture at the Scottsdale store.|
Kiss the Girl started as a tiny folding table at local craft fairs and farmers' markets, later moving up to a kiosk and eventually to a snazzy store inside Scottsdale Fashion Square. The family-run business is headed up by former music mogul James Ross with the help of his three sons, a daughter-in-law, and Ross' ex-wife.
If you're currently hawking your glass bead jewelry with your mom at First Fridays or selling upcycled skirts solo at a local farmers' market, have hope. Kiss the Girl is proof that if you've got a likeable product and some business sense, you can climb the fashion ladder.
|KTG's Formula for Success: Good designs, solid business sense and a little luck.|
Their shirts, hoodies, pants and hats have been featured in magazines, trade shows and at Bloomingdale's. The KTG line is carried at around 400 boutiques nationwide, plus a handful of stores in Canada and the Caribbean.
Ross first got the idea to start a clothing line while visiting a relative in Mexico who owns a screenprinting business. During his 7-month stay, Ross would ask the seamstresses to sew together funky star-shaped patched with ragged edges. (He still has a few of those patches around for sentimental reasons, though they're not for sale.)
How did the company get its name? "I wanted an easily recognizable and memorable name, with an easy-to-read font," says Ross. He began by trying to put himself in women's shoes (not literally, of course). What do women like? "Literally within five seconds it came to my mind that all girls love to kiss. Kiss the Girl!"
The KTG signature look came as a direct response to fashion trends, but not in the way you'd think. "This was right in the middle of the Ed Hardy trend, with the rhinestones and glitter," Ross recalls. "I didn't want to do what everyone else was doing. I wanted to go in the opposite direction, so I went with a retro, vintage look."
According to Ross' son Garrett, who manages the Fashion Square store, Kiss the Girl's most popular design is this hippie smiley face shirt:
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Of course that design might not fly everywhere. While at a trade show in Atlanta, Ross pointed out a newer design featuring the recycle logo to two female buyers from a small boutique in rural Tennessee. Her response? "Aww, damn. We don't worry about recycling in Tennessee. We throw our trash out the window." Guess you can't please everyone all the time, even with shirts this cute.
Tennessee says, 'recycle this!'
|Tennessee says, 'recycle this!'|