A shimmering gold floor-length gown greeted guests as they walked through a pair of double doors into a gathering to celebrate the launching of KH Designs, a fashion boutique expected to open in January on West Fond Du Lac Avenue in Lindsay Heights. As guests sampled hors d’oeuvres including meat, cheese, bread, vegetables and dips, a video of designer Kelvin Haydon’s fashion shows illuminated a corner of the room.
About 90 clients, family, friends and business people gathered to celebrate Haydon’s success in the first Start-Up/Scale-Up Business Plan Competition sponsored by the North Avenue Fond Du Lac Marketplace BID 32 last summer.
Haydon’s prizes included assistance with rent and renovations at 2025-27 W. Fond Du Lac Ave. Local residents hope that Haydon’s boutique will spark other entrepreneurs to bring businesses to the area.
“We want to diversify the neighborhood, diversify the business owners and support their efforts to be successful and sustainable,” said Jacqueline Ward, executive director of Marketplace BID 32.
Ward explained that fast food restaurants and smoke shops are the types of businesses traditionally found in central city neighborhoods. She said the addition of a popular clothing designer who would typically be found downtown will bring excitement and energy to the community.
“There is not a lot of high fashion in this neighborhood,” said Sherrie Williams, a model and two-year client of KH Designs. “I think people will want to do better. They will see a different life.”
Haydon said he will be busy in the upcoming months preparing for the boutique’s opening by getting the decor, ambience, fixtures and clothes ready. He said he can’t wait to see the shoppers’ faces when they first enter the shop.
Alderman Russell Stamper II, who attended the reception, said he is looking forward to seeing how Haydon’s business will enhance the community. “It’ll help with the revitalization of the neighborhood,” Stamper said. “We have a lot of new economic development going on and now we have a fashion designer.”
He explained that the opening of KH Designs in the beginning of 2016 would help reach the goal of creating a healthy, clean and safe community. Stamper said he plans to be Haydon’s first customer in his new location; Stamper plans to purchase a dress for his wife.
Tammy Belton-Davis, a public relations consultant for the business plan competition, said Haydon has worked hard with Ward and Marketplace BID 32 to prepare to open the new business by taking part in business capacity classes and trainings. “I think it is just the right season for him to be successful,” Belton-Davis said.
Haydon said he hopes that his business will receive a warm reception from the community, noting, “It’s going to bring a diverse audience from all parts of the city.” He added that he plans to eventually employ individuals from the area.
Ward said that BID 32 expects to have another business plan competition in the spring. “While there are some challenges in this community, we know what the assets are. The assets are people like Kelvin and individuals like yourselves that are interested in making this community great,” she told the attendees.