We had the good fortune of connecting with Kelly Willbanks and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kelly, maybe we can start at the very start – the idea – how did you come up with the idea for your business?
My business, Rea Rea J’s, is named for my daughter- Reagan June. My son, Parker, was 19 months old when she was born and quickly nicknamed her Rea Rea and it stuck! I started this business when she was about six months old and he had just turned two. I was getting frustrated when shopping for holiday outfits for the two of them and not being able to find anything I like that matched so I started to create my own and it took off from there!
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
My business started in late 2020 (celebrating one year this week!) and has grown more than I ever could’ve imagine in one year. As I mentioned, I was finding gaps in the market for what I was looking for, especially for my son. There were a million cute things for girls but all of the options for boys seemed way too casual or way too fancy so I started making my own outfits for them for Holidays. I wanted something cute that could be dressed up or down but that my son was also actually willing to wear, so comfort was super important. When I showed them to friends, so many people encouraged me to sell them so I jumped in. Originally I just had bows in my shop but after the feedback on the outfits, I really leaned in to making that the focus of my shop.
I have focused on creating clothing that is comfortable for kids and can transition from a special event to playtime to everything in between. I try to focus on creating items that I want my kids to be in and that I can’t already find in stores. I love making items that can be mixed and matched or paired with your kid’s favorite items from other brands as well.
My success has truly come from the community around me. Building relationships with my customers and local growth has really fueled this business. I love being a part of the Houston community and being able to interact with my customers! My first really successful item was because of the support I received from a local moms group in my area of town.
It was very challenging to put myself out there, not knowing if anyone would respond to what I was doing. Owning a business on your own can be scary and isolating sometimes but I have been able to connect with a lot of other small business owners over the last year who have given me lots of advice and become great friends.
Overall, I am so proud of how much Rea Rea J’s has grown over the past year and I can’t wait to see what year two has in store for us!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I feel like a good tour of Houston is a tour of all of our best restaurants! We would definitely have to make a stop at some of our best restaurants- The Original Ninfa’s on Navigation, Goode Company BBQ, the original Carrabas, Mia’s.
Our family also loves frequenting the Zoo and Children’s Museum and going to Astros games. I love shopping at the Village and love frequenting all of our local markets and festivals.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I owe all of my success to my family who has come along on this journey with me. My kids are always my inspiration behind everything I put in my shop. My husband and parents have been extremely supportive and are always there to help me with markets or to step up and take over watching the kids or other things so that I can get work done when I need to.
Sharon Nicole Photography, Toast to Post Blog