How Keeler Came Home
Michele Keeler has been known for the past 17 years for children’s apparel. Hats she made for her then young children were seen by a buyer for Fred Segal in Los Angeles and her business, Baby YaYa, was born. A year ago, Keeler changed direction, setting her sights on the home arena and starting Michele Keeler Home (866-620-7490, michelekeeler.com) with the introduction of unusual multi-colored towels made in Turkey. Here she shares insights into her sea change.
How did you come to venture into home textiles?
“It happened organically. After starting my company in Los Angeles, I moved production when the recession hit. Factories in L.A. were closing and I couldn’t get the quantities I needed. I had to figure out where to take production. Everyone was outsourcing, but I didn’t want to source from China.
“I knew people in Turkey and fell in love with the country. The factories were great, so I did kids products there and made my own fabrics. Then I began working with loomers and found 12x2 yarns, which are not standard. It took a year for me to figure out how I wanted to use them in towels.
“The towels I offer are hand done, and I came to use different factories with different expertise for different products. ”
What sets your towels apart from others?
“You can buy other Turkish towels, but they don’t necessarily dry you well. I took the old weaving techniques and modernized them so the towels function better. They are twice as thick as those made with standard yarns.”
Are you planning to expand into other product areas?
“I’m a one-woman band, so I have to be careful about what I take on. I want to continue to have products come in on time and maintain the quality, yet I have to keep things moving and develop new designs.
“This season I introduced shower curtains for Anthropologie. Napkins and tablecloths will debut in February 2014. In towels, I introduced new colors, a new loom style, and zigzag and starburst patterns.”
Do you still offer a kids line of clothing?
“When I began doing home goods, I knew I had to decide between the two businesses, so I have focused on home and have scaled back the kids business because I can’t do everything. I used to offer apparel up to age 14, but now I only offer items up to age 2--baby gifts.
“My greatest challenge is keeping all the plates spinning.”
Keeler’s hand-loomed towel designs can feature up to 17 colors. Shown above are absorbent, colorfast Multi Pink and Multi Blue towels from the Pastille Collection. The line includes hand, guest and bath sheet sizes, along with coordinating bath mats, robes and slippers. Keeler also offers towels in solid colors.