To say that Kelly McKee Zajfen is a superhero is an understatement. This LA-based mama is truly a gift to our community with her inspiring story of love (her family), creation (her business) and community (her non-profit). As the co-founder of the Alliance of Moms, a membership based auxiliary group that supports the work of the Alliance for Children’s Rights, their mission is to break the intergenerational cycle of babies born to teens in foster care. Kelly is also the co-creator of Little Minis, a line of rompers that has a cult-like following, selling out in minutes and re-selling on not one, but two Facebook groups with over 1200 members! Oh, and if that isn’t enough, she’s also the dedicated mama to four-year-old twins and a Heart Ambassador for the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Inspired yet? Read on…
“I really dove into meeting customers, speaking with them, and answering emails about requests to understand the growth needed and the demand.”
First of all, we love your Little Minis dresses. Apparently we’re not the only ones as you now have a crazy cult following for your adorable creations! Can you tell us about how it all started?
I don’t know exactly when or how it began, but we realized after our first trunk show the love was BIG and more dresses needed to be made. I really dove into meeting customers, speaking with them, and answering emails about requests to understand the growth needed and the demand. They are all limited edition because we use dead stock/vintage fabric so they really are special pieces and I think people really love that. I also love our customers because it’s wonderful to see people coming together over dresses and even trading them!
How does it make you feel to be working so hard on the collection and offer it at a reasonable price only to see your designs being resold for 3x the price?
I think it shows how incredible the pieces are and that the customers appreciate and love the fabrics and styles we choose. Prices will go up because of the cost of production and making them with the best factory, however, I want to keep it at a fair price. Selling it for $400-$500 is way too much for people to afford so that aspect of it is difficult. I want everyone to have a Little Minis!
We heard you had a trunk show where people were lined up around the block! What happened?
It was our very first real trunk show to showcase our season. We had done amazing pop up events before, but summer was a whole new experience for us. We had people lined up 2 hours before we started and we sold out our entire stock in 20 minutes. Needless to say, we learned SO much that day! We learned we needed to make more and we learned the love these mamas have for Little Minis is real.
That’s amazing! With the huge following Little Minis has, what do you have in mind to grow the brand? Any big plans for 2017?
We do have big plans! Be on the lookout for new styles and new rompers, including a unisex romper, coming soon! All those cute mamas with boys (including my Georgie) can finally rock a Little Mini. Also, we’ll be adding more inventory and keeping up with the demand. We’ve recently partnered with a fantastic new factory that has been incredible at production and I want to keep adding new and different styles.
What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?
I get different advice all the time from so many of my amazing mama friends, however, one I have kept with me was “if something has made you upset, FEEL upset. Sit with it for 24-48 hours and be as upset/sad/frustrated as you need to be and then let it go.” Never hold on too long.
That’s such great advice. Things always look different when you have a chance to cool off! Do you have a favorite quote that inspires you?
“Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is.” –H. Jackson Browne
You have the most adorable twins! Lily, your little girl, has a heart condition. Can you tell us about her journey discovering this and treating it?
When Lily was 2, I took her in for a sick visit at our new doctor’s office. They checked her heart rate, as they always do when you see your doctor, and they noticed her heart rate was too low. They called in another doctor and a nurse to do more vitals and within 5 min they had called Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA). They said I needed to go there right away because something wasn’t right with her heart. It was probably the most difficult day and week I have ever had. They diagnosed her with a third degree heart block and within 6 months, she was placed with a pacemaker. Nothing can prepare you for this, however my goal and my job really, as both a mother and as a woman, is to make her feel special, empowered and strong, because of it. Lily’s condition has given us both the ability to give back to our community a lot of strength and love that was given to us.
We’re so happy Lily is doing great, what a brave girl! We can’t imagine the toll this took on you and your family. Can you tell us how this experience inspired you to get involved with CHLA and what you do to help?
My little warrior Lily is incredible. When we arrived at CHLA, it felt like a safe and warm environment. From the team that is there to greet you, to the volunteers who are making art for the kids waiting for surgery, to the incredible doctors…I was inspired to give back. I joined the Heart Ambassador Program which enables me to visit once a month to fill goody bags and deliver to the heart patient floor. Kids who have gone through surgery and are with their families are greeted and given a little something to say people are thinking of them. It’s very meaningful for me as I am a heart mom and have walked the floors. It’s a way to say that I have gone through a similar experience and there is a support team for them.
My goal and my job really, as both a mother and as a woman, is to make her feel special, empowered and strong, because of it. Lily’s condition has given us both the ability to give back to our community a lot of strength and love that was given to us.
You are also a Co-Founder of Alliance of Moms (in all your free time!). Can you tell us a little about Alliance of Moms and how it was started by your mommy group? What are your goals?
The Alliance of Moms is a membership based auxiliary group, that supports the work of the Alliance for Children’s Rights. The Alliance of Moms creates educational programs to empower pregnant and parenting foster teens in Los Angeles.
It started with just 5 of us mamas who came up with the concept while we were in a “Mommy and Me” group. One of our Founders/Co-Presidents sits on the board of the Alliance for Children’s Rights and had hosted a fundraiser in her backyard to support pregnant and parenting foster teens. The more the 5 of us talked about how vulnerable and underserved these girls are, we felt there was a real need for an organization that was dedicated to providing education, advice, support for these girls in foster care. Thus, the Alliance of Moms began. It’s very much spearheaded by my 4 amazing Co-Founders, and our incredible volunteers. What started as 5, has grown to nearly 500 members!
What a gift you are providing to the community! How can we get involved to support these girls?
You can join the Alliance of Moms! We host Cocktails and Conversation almost every month that really dives into the programs and who we are, and of course, you can always go to our site www.allianceofmoms.org and read more and join there!
You are a superwoman in our eyes! How are you able to give so much of yourself to helping others while caring for twins (!) and running your own business?
Thank you! I’m pretty convinced every parent is a superhero! I think the key is that every superwoman has super mama friend/family that help! I make sure that I do as much of my work when the kids are in school, and at 3pm, I’m mama. When they go to sleep, I can go back at it with shipping, emails, social media… that stuff. But prioritizing and making sure you stay within the expectations of any job or duty is incredibly important, and not letting it take over the best job in the world, being a parent.
What is your spirit animal and why?
I think a bear! It represents strength and also the connection to earth (I’m a hippy at heart) and I’m so protective of my little cubs. Not to mention, I hibernate in the winter and really feel my best when it’s spring and summer.
3 pearls of wisdom
Career: Support the people who are in your community. Investing in the friendships and supporting each other will help you not only grow your business, but your life.
Motherhood: Don’t ever compare yourself to other mothers. We are all doing the best we can and often losing our minds. We should all collectively route for each other.
Life: Get out of your comfort zone. Often times when I have pushed myself, in work, in travel, in life… I have found I’m more capable and enjoyed more.