Photo by Madison Miller.
1212 Hannah Kate
Business Manager Emily Neel and Hannah Kate designer/owner Andrea Brown stand with some pieces from the Hannah Kate fall collection.
In 2000, Andrea Brown had an unexpected idea. Inspired by her hunts to find clothing for her 4-year-old and 2-year-old daughters, she decided to start a children’s clothing business.
“I’m impulsive. I had an idea one day to have a new look,” Brown said.
Brown started Hannah Kate with the help of a few friends in her basement. Since then, it has grown through word of mouth and now does business in a quaint office building in downtown Homewood. Hannah Kate sells to customers across the United States. Clothes are designed for both girls and boys. Sizes include 6 months through 14 for girls and 6 months through 8 for boys. She named the line after her daughters, Hannah and Kathryn.
Despite her success, Brown jokes that she cannot even sew on a button. A graduate of Auburn University with a major in education, she never imagined being a clothing designer.
“I basically have no background for it,” she said.
Customers would never know. Brown gives credit to her staff members, some of whom are seamstresses, for helping her realize her visions. Business manager Emily Neel said that Brown’s ideas for clothing come from every day experiences.
“She doesn’t go in a boutique and pick out what she likes from there. Most designs come from just observing life,” she said.
As talented a designer as she is, Brown is also aware that parents and children want to pick clothing that will make them feel original. At Hannah Kate trunk shows, often held in a hostess’ home or office location, parents and children can look at patterns, prints, fabrics, appliques and more to decide how to personalize their outfits.
“It’s really rewarding when I can tell that a child really likes an outfit,” Brown said, “They can fit it to their personalities.”
This season, the Hannah Kate line features 86 fabrics, more than 50 embellishments and more than 100 patterns to choose from. Brown and her staff want to make sure that customers have enough options available to make their creations truly original.
Hannah Kate also sells merchandise online for those who miss the trunk shows. Online orders are pre-made, which means that online customers can’t personalize their outfits. However, Brown’s adorable, ready-to-go designs will satisfy customers just as well as personalized orders.
Brown maintains that all orders, both from trunk shows and online, are made with high quality cotton fabric. One of the line’s strongest compliments from customers is on durability. The clothing can be handed down through siblings or friends and still look good.
“Quality in every area is a thing that sets us apart,” Brown said.
Neel and Brown said that developing Hannah Kate into the success that it is today was both stressful and rewarding.
“There’s no twiddling of the thumbs, no sitting around eating bonbons. We’re all touching each part of the business in different ways,” Brown said.
The best part of the business, aside from building relationships with customers, Brown said, is getting to work with the women on her staff.
“It’s so much fun. I never feel like I’m working. We pray together, cry together and laugh together,” she said.
In the future, Hannah Kate plans to continue growing its business and trying new things to help its customers. Brown recently designed a new wholesale line called Nain and Joe, named after her grandparents, that will fit sizes 6 months through 10 for girls and 6 months through 8 for boys.
They will be made available through market in Atlanta, Dallas and Los Angeles. Brown will continue to come up with new designs and ideas for Hannah Kate as well. She said that they will keep getting better at what they are doing and have fun while doing it.
“Stay true to yourself, what you love and what you do best,” she said.
Hannah Kate’s office is located at 2776 B Montgomery Street in Homewood. To find out more about trunk shows, clothing lines and more, visit hannahkateonline.com or call 871- 6362.