CAO Stories: Meet Denise

From Craft to Creation

When Denise was little, her mother taught her how to do the basic crochet chain stitch. Starting in fifth grade, she began to take yarn to school and crochet under her desk. She also began to knit — she only knew how to cast on and cast off, but she began doing just that over and over, using pencils as knitting needles. One day, a teacher’s aide asked her if she would like to learn how to knit a hat — and she invited Denise over to her house and taught her just that. 

After a year of fashion merchandising school, Denise decided it wasn’t for her — after all, she knew she wanted to be a designer all along, having wrapped up her dolls in yarn even as a child. She began crocheting on a consistent basis, and her roommate from college suggested she start her own business. Starting with one piece at a time, Denise began to sell her one-of-a-kind items, but she realized that they were easier to showcase when they were actually on something. So, she bought some mannequins and a truck to carry it all around. And Kelly’s KNITches, a fashion boutique on wheels, was born.

Denise’s mobile store features knit and crochet hats and accessories for men and women. She describes her style as classy, urban, vintage, and chic, and each of her creations is one-of-a-kind, created from an in-the-moment inspiration. In fact, it’s the yarn that inspires her most — when she goes shopping, she will only purchase the yarn that speaks to her, that provides her with a vision as soon as she picks it up. 

To help grow her business, Denise began taking business development courses at CAO. 

“The classes kept me focused,” she said. “They connected me with people who are like-minded, all of us starting our businesses together. They were a huge support system for me. Even after I finished the courses, Pamela James from the Business Development Center would follow up with me to see how I was doing and give me guidance. She’s even helping me with my winter collection launch.”

Speaking of Denise’s winter collection launch, she’ll be hosting that at a fashion show coming up in September. Currently, she is attending different vendor events, and she is occasionally at Johnnie B Wiley in Masten Park. Her event in September will feature creations made of cozy fur yarn.

Denise said that she hopes the fashion show introduces more people to her business. Eventually, she wants to host shopping parties and create her own patterns for others to follow. She has also taught several knitting and crocheting classes, including at the Salvation Army, but she is always looking for more opportunities to teach.

“I just have so much fun doing this,” Denise said. “I look forward to waking up every morning and doing this. I love having the freedom to create what I want.”

Pamela James, CAO’s Business Development Director, continues to be impressed with all that Denise has accomplished.

“Denise is a shining example of what it takes to succeed in business because she never gives up,” she said.

Be sure to check out Denise’s upcoming show for the opportunity to shop her unique, one-of-a-kind pieces! The show will be held Sunday, September 5 at 2:00 p.m., location to be determined. Besides the fashion show, there’ll be music, refreshments, a truck tour, and an opportunity to shop the collection. Don’t miss it!