If you have children, Rylee & Cru is the brand you want to dress them in. The California-based kids clothing line offers modern, high-quality fashion, mostly soft basics or artistically illustrated pieces. Behind these illustrations is Kelli Murray, the founder of Rylee & Cru, influencer, and a mother of two (soon to be three) herself. The brand’s unique corporate identity, the look of their website as well as their social media accounts and the way they place their line in stores is flawless, which is why today we chose to introduce Rylee & Cru as a Best Practice.
Beginnings of the Brand
Rylee & Cru was founded in 2014 by Kelli Murray who has been blogging on her own website since 2009. After graduating from FIDM (Fashion Institute for Design & Merchandising, Los Angeles) with a degree in product development and merchandising, she worked as head designer for a clothing company in California. Her blog first started as a place for her to share her artwork and illustrations and later on became her very personal space to share not only art but also stories about fashion, interior, and family.
After becoming a mother in 2011, the wish to launch her own children’s clothing line became stronger. With her background in design and merchandizing, paired with her talent in illustrating and pattern making, Kelli brought all the know-how and resources to the table to launch the first collection of the brand Rylee & Cru, which is named after her two children.
Quality & Design
Any successful brand has to start with a great product. Rylee & Cru merges art and imagination into pretty design, using comfortable fabrics and illustrative prints. The choice of color and cut gives each line a vintage look and feel, while the cute illustrations can easily take you to dreamland. The pieces combine everything we’re looking for in kids clothing: coziness, cuteness, and quality.
As her father has owned a printing factory for three decades, Kelli Murray partnered with him for printing her self-made illustrations onto the fabrics. For manufacturing, she chose local factories, meaning all items are made in the United States. Quality and sustainability are factors that more and more affect the buying decisions of customers, making the local production a great selling point.
Being a mother herself, head of Rylee & Cru Kelli Murray knew exactly what she wanted out of her own line. Each item is pre-shrunk, so there is no risk of shrinkage. Kelli says: „I like it when I can throw them in the washer and dryer and not have to worry about shrinkage. And that’s this entire collection” (source: kellimurray.com / blog).
Online Shop & Merchandising
Rylee & Cru mostly sell through their own online shop. But they also work with selected international retailers that all match their style of clothing as well as their corporate design very well. Instead of large retail stores, they work with smaller boutiques that often only offer selected brands or younger designers. To support and strengthen partnerships with these small stores, they have introduced a ‚retailer spotlight‘ category on the Rylee & Cru blog. In short and interesting interviews, they present the shops to visitors of their corporate blog with high-quality images. This close relationship to stores nourishes a mutual partnership, making stores develop a personal connection to the brand, which is the best selling argument anyone can offer.
Social Media & Work with Influencers
With the founder of Rylee & Cru being an influencer herself, the brand is a social media native. Their Instagram account currently draws the attention of 143k followers, in average growing by 3k followers a month. Compared to similar brands with the same age and style of clothing, Rylee & Cru is performing very well on social media, especially on Instagram which is their main online platform to promote their clothing line.
With her blogging background, Kelli Murray made sure the brand is collaborating with influencers that match the brand. Just like they do with retailers, they share successful collaborations on their corporate blog. The chosen partners are usually mom blogs that share a lot of imagery on Instagram as well. The style of pictures is always consistent to what Rylee & Cru show themselves on their own platform. Working with influencers that are mostly active on Instagram is smart to keep growing their most important social media channel.
Thanks everyone for shopping with our amazing retailers today. I'm filled with so many sappy emotions just feeling so thankful for all the support and encouragement I've received over the last two years since staring this dream project. This is my daughter Rylee (whom most of you have probably figured out by now) and she, along with her brother Cru, are the reason I do this and my biggest inspiration. So thankful to do what I love and I'm eternally grateful for all of you who have supported us through this journey! What a blessing. Our launch is right around the corner on Wednesday, 9am PST. And local mamas, don't forget about our 'mamas night out' tonight at @shopminimarket where you can shop the new collection! Love you all!! 📷 @jackiewondersphoto
Imagery and Corporate Identity
When looking at the lookbooks, the website, the Instagram account, and even at Kelli Murray’s private Instagram profile, you will soon realize: they all have the very same look. The stylings in the pictures as well as the style of photography are as consistent as they are recognizable. All photos are usually taken in dreamy natural surroundings, the editing adds a vintage look to the pictures, and the chosen colors are very soft and natural. It’s a picture style you will recognize and it is safe to say that the imagery is a big part of the success Rylee & Cru.
Not only is the imagery consistent through all Rylee & Cru channels, but it also goes hand in hand with the picture style of founder Kelli Murray. As a lot of the people that are today customers of Rylee & Cru were first readers of Kelli’s blog, it would have been weird to find a colorful, bright and shiny clothing line. Readers and customers wouldn’t have made the connection between Kelli and her brand Rylee & Cru. But as it feels natural shifting between Kelli’s website and the Rylee & Cru shop, the connection has been made perfectly. This is very important in terms of authenticity.
The style of the images, the look of the shop and Instagram are all going hand in hand with the personal accounts of Kelli Murray. It is like a recognizable handwriting through all channels, supporting this brand immensely.
Why Rylee & Cru is an example of Best Practice
From the educational and corporate background in designing and merchandizing to her personal talent in illustrating, paired with her father’s expertise in printing, founder Kelli Murray has used all her resources to build a brand that is gaining more and more ground. Rylee & Cru is a modern brand that recognized the power of social media, especially of Instagram, and the importance of personal relationships with their retailers and influencers.
A consistent corporate identity is used to create a strong value of brand recognition. Rylee & Cru is the result of a high-quality product, paired with dreamy designs and corporate knowledge. But it also has one factor that you can’t learn: it is a project with a lot of heart and passion, as Kelli says on her personal blog upon launching the brand. „I kind of feel like I was meant to do this. I feel silly saying that… like it is my ‚destiny‘ or something, but it really does feel like that. It’s the merging of the things I love the most (…).”
The success of the line speaks for itself. In August of 2016, Kelli announced that they bought a new warehouse and studio space to match the growth of Rylee & Cru.
*numbers current at the time of writing