High energy, high fashion and highly successful Madison apparel shop owner Kim Jensen Watts intersected last month at Montreal Fashion Week. There Kim, owner of the popular local women’s retail shop Amelia’s Apparel & Accessories, along with her husband, Rob, savored a four-day trip of a lifetime, attending non-stop fashion shows, socializing with renowned designers at cocktail parties, visiting specialty boutiques and taking in the sights, sounds and energy of Montreal.
Watts is one of the most successful retailers of women’s fashion in Morgan County and the entire Lake Oconee region. Last year, Amelia’s won first place in Lake Oconee Living magazine’s “Best of Lake Oconee” Readers’ Choice Award for Best Boutique.
Considering the great success of Amelia’s, it’s only fitting that Watts was among countless buyers and fashion press representatives from all around the world who attended this major international fashion event.
Watts was one of 20 international citizens who received invitations for an all-expense-paid trip from the Bureau de la Mode Montreal to preview Spring/Summer 2012 fashion lines from designers like Simon Chang (who designs for Celine Dion), Harricana by Mariouche Gage, Binh Ba, Melissa Nepton, Dimitri Chris, Travis Taddeo, UNTTLD, Second Clothing by Eric Wazana and more.
The opportunity for Watts to travel to Fashion Week presented through her work at the Atlanta Merchandise Mart. There, Watts scopes out future lines to bring back to Morgan County, and also works for the chic clothing brand Tribal at the Mart several times a year. During a recent stint at the Mart, Watts was approached by a representative of the Canadian Consulate who urged her to apply for one of the highly sought-after trips to Montreal Fashion Week. She did, and she won!
Watts says the trip was amazing.
“[Designer] Simon Chang was so personable. He made me feel as important as a star,” she said. Chang told one fashion reporter what to expect for the Spring 2012 season: “With the economy and so much doom and gloom in the news these days, I think women are looking for fun, wearable clothes in uplifting colors and patterns.”
Watts agrees. The trip gave her ideas and introduced her to fashion lines she feels will appeal to her Morgan County customers. She says the coming spring season will bring colored denim, like coral and mint green jeans. “We’re also going to see wide legs on the way back. Chambray, a lightweight colored fabric, is ‘very in’ and the retro look is still very much in vogue. Leggings are still the bomb.”
Watts opened her first Madison retail business, The Ruffled Rooster, in 1998 at the Madison Gift Mart & Café on West Washington Street. In 2001 she relocated the shop across the street. Two years later, Amelia’s, which was owned by Amy Massey Bell and her son, Clint, came on the market.
According to Bell’s sister, Lydia Massey Bennett, “Amy wouldn’t have sold Amelia’s to just anyone.” On March 13, 2003, Watts bought the shop. Bennett agreed to help until Christmas of that year because of her extensive experience buying merchandise, and running the shop with her nephew. Christmas came and went, a friendship grew and Bennett is still a big part of Amelia’s.
“In the beginning, Lydia was my teacher,” said Watts. “I didn’t know much about clothing when I purchased Amelia’s. Through the years we’ve butted heads on certain styles but in the end we ultimately agree.”As to buying brands and styles for her Amelia’s customers, Watts attributes her success to knowing her customer base.
“When I see a particular line I’ll think: ‘That would be great for so and so or so and so will look fabulous in that.’ I think my success comes from having a variety of styles and because I move merchandise quickly so that I always have something new to offer.”
Women from all over can relate to Watts’ sense of style. “I hear from women that come from Atlanta and all over that they can’t find things as cute and nice as what we have!” This has helped us create a nationwide customer base. One of my very best customers is from Ellicott City, Maryland.”
“I try to deliver a broad range of styles from affordable, trendy, and conservative, to classic, funky and off-the-beaten-path,” Watts said. Because of this, the store has broad appeal. “Women love to change their wardrobes with the seasons so I look for price-points and styles that make that possible.”
Today, some of her most popular brands are Tribal, Silver Jeans, NYDJ Jeans, Nic+Zoe, Dunia, Aventura, Lole, Donna Morgan, Lilla P, Desiqual, Oxmo, Darling, Foxcroft, Spanx, Brighton, Hobo, Jessica Simpson, Luii, and Renuar. She will be adding Second Yoga jeans in November – a brand she was introduced to at Montreal Fashion Week.
Printed in the October 20, 2011 edition