Clay Terrace Shop Gives Back to the Community in Multiple Ways
Writer / Stephanie Dolan
Photographer / Linda Oldiges
When one thinks of giving back, an upscale boutique doesn’t always come to mind. However, a roughly 3,000-square-foot space in Clay Terrace is breaking the mold for what constitutes a great way for consumers to shop high-end items, while also contributing to local organizations that are doing great work in the community.
Clothes With a Cause was founded by Kelli McLaughlin, who grew up in Carmel, only temporarily leaving town to pursue a college degree in special education.
“I had no experience in fashion or merchandising,” she says. “Several years ago my brother and his wife adopted two brothers from China. I watched them go through the process of raising tens of thousands of dollars for each boy that they wanted to bring home, and it kind of got my mind spinning about how I could help people like that raise money for things that are important to them.”
McLaughlin says her kids were all in performing arts at the time, and that she’d bought every candy bar and garden gnome possible for various fundraisers.
“That’s not practical,” she says. “Then I started thinking about what people would want to buy. That’s when I started considering opening a clothing boutique and donating 10% of the profits, but my brother challenged me to think bigger. He said people are looking for donations from people with more zeros than just one.”
That’s when Clothes With a Cause was born – a fundraising vehicle that would donate 100% of its profits to charitable organizations and causes.
“Literally we started three and a half years ago with one rack of clothing in my living room,” McLaughlin says. “One rack turned into two racks that turned info four. That turned into me telling my husband that we needed to turn our dining room into a shop. Then came the purchase of a mobile home that I turned into a mobile shop.”
McLaughlin says her first fundraising projects involved begging people to let her raise money for them.
“Now people have to go through a process,” she says. “If someone has an interest in me raising money for a charity, we’ll meet for coffee and talk about what they’re doing. We’ll set aside a block of time on a Friday night to bring their people in and let them shop. We’ll have wine and snacks. If they have a fruitful experience with that short fundraiser then I put them in the running for a month-long fundraiser.”
Not only is McLaughlin raising money for community causes, but she says she’s also doing her best to ensure that her clothing is ethically sourced.
“I’m very cautious about what comes into my store,” she says. “I want to make sure things are properly vetted. To me, it doesn’t make any sense to write a check at the end of the month to support someone if I can’t support the process for the clothing creation, from how it’s made to how it’s distributed. I try to vet very carefully to make sure everyone is taken care of along the way.”
Above all, McLaughlin is thankful to be able to give back within the community in which we was raised.
“I’ve built my business from the beginning, one person at a time,” she says. “The Carmel community has embraced me for sure. It’s been a slow build and I’m okay with that. Carmel is my hometown, and I love it here. I wouldn’t want to raise my kids anywhere else, and I wouldn’t want my business to be anywhere else. I’m all about local brands and supporting local.”
Clothes With a Cause is located at 14405 Clay Terrace Boulevard, Suite 110 in Carmel. For more information, call 317-460-6391 or visit clotheswithacause.net.