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Under the label KH Designs, Kelvin Haydon will open a boutique storefront in the same neighborhood in which he grew up.

Kelvin Haydon sits in front of a rack of his own designs in his home office. Photo by Kat Schleicher.

Kelvin Haydon sits in front of a rack of his own designs in his home office. Photo by Kat Schleicher.

Apair of green riding pants Kelvin Haydon designed in a Bay View High School home economics class launched his career. “Then they got stolen,” he says. “I thought, ‘If somebody liked them, then I’ve got something going on here.’”

Next came a fashion design degree from Columbia College in Chicago, and stints at clothiers JH Collectibles and Allen D. Everitt Knitting Co., now both shuttered. In the late 1990s, he began designing custom gowns for Milwaukee’s socialites to wear on the charity circuit.

And next month, Haydon, under the label KH Designs, will open a boutique, a 1,700-square-foot storefront near 20th Street and West Fond du Lac Avenue, in the same neighborhood in which he grew up. Earlier this year, he won the North Avenue Marketplace Business Improvement District’s competition for the best business plan, earning $5,000 cash and business services valued around $5,000.

On a recent weekday, traffic hummed outside the store, and a wall of Cream City brick baked in the sunlight. Haydon enthused about the mannequins that will soon sport one-of-a-kind men’s and women’s designs, priced under $200. He’d like to offer pieces from other designers, too. A bling-loaded chandelier will greet shoppers, and Haydon’s studio will be in the back, where he will craft his designs. The new space also represents a career shift: fewer custom designs and more ready-to-wear pieces.

“I’m a little bit of urban, a little bit of Old Hollywood, and some modern,” he says of his aesthetic. And now, with his first store, he hopes to reach an ever larger client base. “It’s going to open up new doors,” Haydon says.

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“Grand Designs” appears in the December 2015 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find the December issue on newsstands Nov. 30.

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