Kelly has a truly incredible story in both her personal and business life which many women (and mothers especially) can relate to. After a painful divorce and at the amazing age of 42 and with two grown adult children, Kelly found herself pregnant with another child. Whilst the pregnancy was considered a blessing, it wasn't planned, and with Kelly's two children already grown up, it wasn't what she had in mind for her future. Her current relationship was on the rocks and after doctor's advising her of the risks of pregnancy at that age, she had a big decision to make. Always the shining light of optimism, Kelly ignored any warnings and went on to give birth to a beautiful little boy named Wiley (she gave birth in 40 minutes)!
Throughout this time, Kelly continued to run her business Frolic Girls, which with the help of her daughter Madison, was continuing to thrive, offering women in Wollongong and all over Australia, access to some of Australia's best designer and up and coming brands. After the birth of Wiley, Kelly saw a gap in the market for stylish clothes for children. So she decided to open both a bricks and mortar and online store called Little Wanderers. Since then she's rounded up some of the best Australian labels creating unique and trendy clothes and toys for children and babies alike.
Now at 47 years old, Kelly juggles these two businesses on her own as a single mother looking after 4 year old Wiley. Kelly is an incredible force to be reckoned with, she's kept Frolic Girls thriving for the last 15 years amidst personal heartbreak and triumphs, and is continuing to innovate and find new ways to keep her businesses successful in this current retail client. She's lived through the changes in retail businesses, had to change her business models to keep up with the digital age, all the whilst raising children and then doing it all over again with Wiley. Based in Wollongong, Kelly spends a lot of her time in Sydney and Bali, where she's able to abreast of current trends, work on her own clothing label -Gracious', and find new and unique stockists for her stores.
Question: What inspired the business Frolic Girls?
Kelly Kreilis : Frolic Girls was inspired through my own sense of fashion – At the time I was living in Wollongong there really wasn't much available for someone who had a sense of style and wanted to dress a little differently. I opened the store with the vision to offer women of all ages stylish clothes for every occasion. To this day we still have the same customers that shopped there all those years ago, plus obviously new ones so it's exciting to be able to offer a service that keeps customers coming back.
Question: Can you tell us about Frolic Girls?
Kelly Kreilis : Frolic Girls started from humble beginnings as a small shop in a side lane in Wollongong. We've since been around for 15 years, with the store now selling a selection of specially curated designs online from Australia's most prestigious labels. Whilst Frolic Girls still has a standalone store in Wollongong, we are now available online to women all over Australia. Stocking labels such as Alice McCall, Bec + Bridge, Camilla & Marc and P.E Nation, we are a one stop shop for all things affordable luxe. With fast shipping and After Pay available, there are no excuses to start looking your best.
Question: What's it like working with your daughter, on Frolic Girls?
Kelly Kreilis : Working with Madison has been such an incredible experience – she has been the glue that has held it all together these past couple of years, especially since having my son Wiley and opening Little Wanderers. Madison supports me in all areas of the business and whilst there are times when we have disagreements, I'm so lucky that I get to work with my daughter (who's also my best friend).
Question: How did Wiley inspired Little Wanderers?
Kelly Kreilis : Wiley inspired Little Wanderers through a similar situation with Frolic – Except this time it was me looking for clothes for Wiley and not being able to find them, rather than looking for clothes for myself! I wanted fashionable but affordable clothes for my child and I couldn't find anything that suited so that's how Little Wanderers was born!
Question: Can you tell us about Little Wanderers?
Kelly Kreilis : Little Wanderers has a standalone store in Wollongong, but now parents from all over Australia can buy Little Wanderers wares online for their babies and bubs. Stocking a specially curated range of designer clothing, homewares, toys, gifts and other fun stuff for kids and babies, Little Wanderers sets the trends for kids from a young age.
Question: How do you find the time to run two businesses and look after a 4-year-old?
Kelly Kreilis : I'd have to be honest and say it's really hard! Some days I feel like I juggle it really well but then other days it can feel like I'm drowning a bit! I'm lucky that I have Madison for support and a great team of staff around me. I do always feel like I'm doing a million things at once but I guess I've been doing it for so many years now that it has become second nature. My main priority is always to make time to be a good mother, and that comes before any of the work that I do.
Question: Can you share your work/life balance tips?
Kelly Kreilis : I've always been an early riser so I usually get up around 4:30am which allows me to get some work done before Wiley wakes up or some exercise. Sometimes I think it is hard to find the right balance but if you're willing to work hard and you enjoy what you do, and then work doesn't really feel like work! I'm lucky that I'm passionate about what I do so even though there doesn't feel like much of a separation from work and life, I still love it. It's important to just prioritise everything you do, so then that way you know the most important things are always getting done because they're on top of the list. Everything else that matters less can come later.
Question: What advice do you have for women who want to start their own businesses?
Kelly Kreilis : Make sure you have a good support network around you so then you don't feel like you're doing it all on your own! I believe women can do anything they set their minds to so if starting your own business is one of your goals, you really should do it! Just be prepared for a lot of long hours and hard work – but if you love what you do, it won't ever feel like work.
Question: Do you have a morning routine? Can you share it with us?
Kelly Kreilis : Yes as I mentioned I get up very early, so normally I'll try and fit in some exercise (I have some weights at home so I usually do exercises in the house), then I'll check my emails and social media accounts to see what my day is looking like, then by the time Wiley is up I've usually got everything set for him to go to school, then once I've dropped him off at school I'll head into Little Wanderers or Frolic. Some days I have to head to Sydney for buying trips so my morning routine will look a little different on those days!
Question: What are your 2018 Resolutions?
Kelly Kreilis : My 2018 resolutions are to be able to focus a bit more on home life – I've just bought a house which I'm renovating so it's been nice to be able to focus a little bit on a personal project rather than on Frolic or Little Wanderers. I also want to be able to take some more time off where I'm not spending most of the time working. From a professional perspective I'd like to keep building my businesses and place a bit more emphasis on the online stores!
Interview by Brooke Hunter