By Didi Hoffman
Her soft southern drawl pulls you gently in as you talk to Kathleen Kelly. Tall and slim with a big smile, she is kind, polite and always sees the good around her. Co-owner of Kevin’s Fine Outdoor Gear & Apparel and Kevin’s Catalog, Kathleen never seems hurried or too busy to take a moment to talk to you. Her family hails from Rome, GA but she grew up in Pensacola, Florida with family ties to Alabama as well. Kathleen grew up hunting on the Quail Plantations of Florida, Georgia and Alabama and ran barefoot on the beaches and bay of Pensacola. She smiles when she talks about how fun it was always being outdoors and being surrounded by strong southern women who always seemed to fill her home with delicious food and friends. Dogs, food, family and southern traditions still move Kathleen and are the foundation of Kevin’s success. For over 40 years the family owned business has become family to many generations of southern hunters and outdoor men and women.
Fourth generation southern, Kathleen received a degree in political science with a minor in history and communications from Florida State University. She still talks to her Kappa Delta sisters today and will talk football with the best of them – like all true southern women she is every bit as well versed as her male counterparts! When planning personal or professional events, game day schedules are always considered! Kevin is also a FSU alum but their son is now a War Eagle, and their daughter is looking at a number of SEC colleges which only expands their love of college football.
When asked about her southern heritage and the traditions she finds most important, Kathleen reminisces about enjoying a casual coastal lifestyle, hunting and food, family, friends and of course their many dogs. Memories as a young girl are filled with stories of the beach and the hunt, large suppers, beautiful china, elegant table settings with incredible food, sharing recipes and laughter at the table of her family and friends. The thought and details put into every event dominate her experiences, yet she laughs a soft laugh when saying the dogs still ruled the house and the nicest outfits were accessorized with dog hair!
It’s no wonder that she designs many of the different clothing lines, and selects with loving care the home goods found at Kevin’s. She grew up in the field and knows what the true outdoor person loves, how they wear it and how the fabrics and construction must perform. Quality is king to Kathleen, she expects it for herself and especially for her customers – many who shop worldwide with Kevin’s. Her background after college was in marketing for the new Florida Lottery and Ernst & Young as a consultant. Lessons learned very early were if the customer isn’t happy then she has not done her job –and every day, this is the questions she asks of her staff, is Kevin’s giving their customers a great shopping experience?
So much of the southern lifestyle Kathleen grew up with and lives every day is about entertaining. It’s about home, family, friends and gathering together. The cookbooks sold at Kevin’s have been tested by Kathleen, she cooks and entertains often. She knows the best recipes! The bridal registry is a favorite for southern brides (and grooms too with their extensive hunting and fishing departments) ; where else will you find such a beautiful selection for your home?
Kathleen Kelly, co-owner of Kevin’s is the quintessential southern woman. Kevin’s is a reflection of her deep rooted southern lifestyle, her gracious love of entertaining and her love of creating gathering places for friends and family. Stop by, she will spend the time to get to know you without rushing or worry, because it’s all about you. It’s not surprising that people fly in from everywhere (even across the ocean) to shop at Kevin’s!