Designer Roxana Castillo—who moved to the U.S. from Peru when she was twenty—is the founder of Kissy Kissy clothing line (Part of Tatiana & Company, Inc.) for children. Founded in 1996, the Kissy Kissy brand has offered parents and gift-givers timeless, high quality wardrobe essentials and timeless fashion pieces for the new babies in their lives. Kissy Kissy clothes are made from Peruvian pima cotton, which, says Castillo, means the longer fiber length results in a more durable fabric that gives off a slight luster. In 2014, the brand extended its selection to include pajamas for children up to size six. Celebs such as Elton John, Salma Hayek and Gwen Stefani are fans of Kissy Kissy, which is sold at specialty retailers worldwide.
Castillo spoke with Papás y Mamás about her business acumen, giving back, and her line’s recent collaboration with Sophie le Girafe. Read on to learn more.
You grew up in Peru. What was your childhood like, and did you always know you wanted to be a designer?
I had a very happy, carefree childhood until the death of my father when I was thirteen. His passing changed our reality drastically, leaving us with few choices but to start earning a living as soon as we could after graduating high school. That’s what determined my choice of career, which initially was as an administrative assistant. I'd never considered design. It was really the upcoming birth of my first grandson that got me into the children’s clothing business. When we were shopping for him, I recognized a need in the market. Initially, I had a retail store in New Jersey, which allowed me to see the breadth of what was available in the American market. I noticed what the market needed—super soft pima cotton clothes and a line that encompassed a full range of coordinating apparel and accessories for gift-givers. This led to the creation of Kissy Kissy.
Kissy Kissy is manufactured in Peru. Why was that so important to you?
I’ve lived in the U.S. for decades, but Peru is still also my home. I feel a kinship to it and a responsibility toward it. There is so much need and poverty there, and I think the people deserve any chance they can get. And it is the amazing softness, durability and luster of Peruvian pima cotton that helped put Kissy Kissy on the map, after all.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The best part of having this business is two-fold: First, I love seeing my happy customers—both the retailers who sell Kissy Kissy and the end consumers. Families choose Kissy Kissy again and again, from that first “coming home from the hospital” outfit, through their first birthdays, first steps, first trips, and so many other “firsts.” It’s gratifying to see how passionate families are about our clothes. Second, I get the most fulfillment out of the work we’re able to provide to people in Peru. It gives the men and (mostly) women who create each garment an opportunity to economically advance their families.
What career advice do you have for aspiring fashion entrepreneurs?
My advice to any aspiring entrepreneur, in fashion or in any field, is to work hard and give your best. I love Kissy Kissy and I’m proud of our success, but there are always challenges and you have to be ready to face them. In fashion in particular, what’s really helped our brand is having a clear vision of who we are and what our customers expect from us. You can’t be everything to everyone. But at the same time, you have to listen and watch the market and be willing to evolve.
What is the best compliment you’ve ever received from a parent about Kissy Kissy?
I love when customers say things like, "I'm a loyal customer for life.” Or “Kissy Kissy is unlike any clothing in quality and details.” And we'll also often notice on social media one mom referring another mom to our brand. That's the absolute best!
What else, in your opinion, makes the line so unique and special?
A big part of the draw for our customers, I think, is that we embrace the baby stage. Everything we do is focused on the baby and about helping moms celebrate that very short, sweet time in their lives. So, yes, we want babies to be comfortable so we use our extra soft Peruvian pima cotton, and our prints and details are sweet and timeless. We also put a lot of effort into our customer service because we appreciate our customers, and we always want them to be happy with every Kissy Kissy purchase!
Earlier this year, Kissy Kissy launched a “Sophie la Girafe” collection, featuring the iconic character.
You’ve recently launched a line of baby clothes featuring Sophie la Girafe; a globally-popular baby toy and teether. Can you hint what’s next up your sleeve, creatively?
We’re always looking for opportunities and are so excited about Sophie la Girafe. It’s our first collaboration of this type, and we couldn’t have picked a better partner. All new moms know Sophie! She really is a baby shower staple. Going forward, you can expect more steps from us like this that allow us to create a deeper bond with new moms and gift-givers.
Click here to learn more about Kissy Kissy and founder Roxana Castillo.