Kelly James ’04: Combating Closet Envy

Do you admire people with great fashion sense and wish you could shop in their closets? Kelly James ’04 knows the feeling; that’s why she created Closet Groupie.

She is launching the e-commerce site ( this fall, allowing shoppers to select stylish women’s and children’s clothing at a fraction of the original price. And when customers find someone whose style meshes with their own, they can “follow

that person’s closet” and be notified when new items from that closet are posted. “Imagine shopping in friends’ closets all over the world,” Kelly enthuses.

And of course fashionistas can also sell items from their own wardrobes through Closet Groupie.

Kelly grew up in a fashion-savvy family—her mother is a successful entrepreneur in direct marketing children’s clothing—and has long had an interest in the field. At age twelve, Kelly followed her mom on a visit to J. Crew to find out how their distribution network operated. After MHC, she went to Parsons to study fashion design, then was a design intern at DKNY, a PR intern at Yves Saint Laurent, and an assistant buyer for Ralph Lauren’s Club Monaco and for Van Heusen. After years working in a fashion-industry cubicle, Kelly says she longed to start her own business.

Her first effort—The Ex Outlet—let people sell clothing, jewelry, and memorabilia left over when bad relationships ended. That got her work noticed by Glamour magazine’s blog, and she was even offered a reality show. But that business has morphed into Closet Groupie to focus more intently on fashion.

Because there’s not much closet space in her New York City studio apartment, Kelly uses the front foyer as a closet. Handbags decorate one wall, and rows of shoes line up beside dresses, jeans, and the rest of the wardrobe she describes as “casual Boho chic.” On Closet Groupie, you’ll likely see some of it for sale.—E.H.W.