20 years in the making, Kaly Clothing has become a boutique with three generations.
Found in “Family Owned & Operated.”
“The dream had been percolating for a long time,” according to Kaly’s owner Polly Zobel. Looking to leave the corporate world, Polly’s mother Holly decided to open a women’s boutique in downtown West Chester. She pitched it to Polly, a then 20-year-old college student, and Kaly opened its doors in 1998.
“There’s a leap of faith in opening a business,” said Polly. “Sure, my Mom had owned two stores over the years, but I remember thinking ‘this is crazy.'”
The journey’s had twists and turns, with Polly bowing out of the business for more than a decade. “Most family businesses fail because there are no boundaries,” she said. “I had to choose between the relationship and the business. It’s easy to take things too personally, and you can’t do that. If somebody criticizes a decision, you have to realize that it’s just business.”
When Holly retired five years ago, Polly decided to buy Kaly, and the transition was smooth. “It re-energized my Mom to see that her business was going to live on and it energized me because it made me think about taking it into the next phase. Putting the plan in place together was really special. And I still see some of the customers I met when we first opened, and meet their kids and grandkids,” Polly told us. “I think that’s what local business is all about.”
And there’s the possibility of a third generation in the offing too. Polly’s daughter Nina, age 13, helped in the store last summer, but Polly doesn’t have any expectations. “She loves art, fashion, photography, and writing, so she’s going in that direction, but I don’t push it. I just keep the door wide open.”