Inspired by her late father’s snazzy dress style and entrepreneurial spirit, Kelly Brandt Petersen, 28, has launched her own clothing line for women and children.
With her Charlie B brand, Kelly wants to use creativity to improve the lives of young women in Kewtown, her old neighbourhood. She now lives in Kuils River and is working with six aspiring entrepreneurs, sharing her knowledge and creating opportunities for them.
Kelly has overcome many hardships – including the loss of both her parents – to get where she is. Her mother died when she was 5, and her father died six years ago, the same year she became a mother.
“My father, Michael John Brandt, also known by his nickname, Charlie, raised me,” she says. “He used to have a fruit-and-vegetable stall. Many in the area knew him, and not just for his business, but how he assisted the community in whichever way he could. His heart was always set on helping the community. He inspired me. I was only nine years old when I started helping him with the fruit-and-vegetable business.”
Kelly says she was fiercely independent from a young age, and she had her first casual job at 16.
After matriculating from Garlandale High School in 2010, she studied for a graphic-design degree but took a gap year during her studies for the birth of her daughter.
“When my daughter turned one year old, I finished my qualification. I could have viewed losing my parents, taking a gap year during my studies, or even being bullied as a teenager, as reasons to give up on my dreams, but I never spent too much time mourning my losses. Instead, I’d like to think that I use my losses to win. No matter where we come from, we can still make our dreams a reality. I have been through it all, but I did not allow that to get me down.”
Kelly runs her own graphic design company, Lit Design Empire, and she launched Charlie B a few weeks ago.
“Charlie B is about celebrating my dad. He was always dressed to the tee – a fashion fanatic. This is his legacy.”
Kelly is married to Justin Petersen, also an entrepreneur. They have two daughters, Kaley, 5, and Kara, 3.