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Remembering Kourageous Kids Co-founder Kim Spellman

Kim Spellman, co-founder of Kourageous Kids showroom and tween line Flowers by Zoe, passed away last month, after a recurring battle with cancer.

Clockwise from left: Spellman fishing on the family’s boat; Attending a wedding with her family in Philadelphia last year; Dancing at a close friend’s wedding in the summer of 2014; Posing with her business partner Sarina Cotton at Children’s Club in New York.

Kim Spellman, co-founder of Kourageous Kids showroom and tween line Flowers by Zoe, passed away last month, after a recurring battle with cancer. She was 57. A graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology, Spellman met her close friend and business partner, Sarina Cotton, during college and they remained inseparable for 35 years. “We had a very rare friendship that was closer to sisters,” Cotton says. “It was always SarinaandKim—one word.”

In 1982, the duo established the Kourageous Kids showroom in New York, followed by the introduction of their own girls’ sportswear line, Flowers by Zoe, in 1986. The label has been recognized by the industry for design excellence over the years, winning four Earnie Awards, and is a staple for many retailers, who praised Spellman’s “best friend approach” to business.

“Kim was upfront, fair and told it like it was,” says Susan Silverstein of Marcia’s Attic. “She did all of that and still made you feel like she was your BFF.” The New Jersey retailer with stores in Englewood and Closter recalls her comical introduction to Spellman’s warm personality. “When I first met Kim, we discovered that we both lived in New City and had girls the same age,” she says, noting that she accidentally scribbled Spellman’s name and address in the “ship to” box of her Flowers by Zoe order. “Months later, Kim came home and found my entire store delivery on her front porch—we had a good laugh about that!”

Spellman was known for her contagious laugh and bright smile. “I’m one of the lucky ones who got to see that ‘Kim smile’ daily,” says Louise Connor of The Showroom, a former neighbor of Kourageous Kids. “She and I exchanged many a snarky political comment and hard laugh about the craziness of our business.” After watching Kim carrying boxes to Kourageous Kids’ new space a floor above hers in late 2018, Connor texted Spellman to say she would miss being neighbors. Spellman texted back, “I’ll just be upstairs!” to which Connor replied, “It won’t be the same.”

The industry won’t be quite the same without Spellman either. “There are no words to describe the magnitude of losing Kim,” says Amy Hoffman, co-owner of Nancy Markert and Amy Hoffman showroom, who shared a space with Kourageous Kids briefly. “Her banter with Sarina was hysterical—yelling like sisters one minute and laughing the next,” Hoffman says. “She was a leader who didn’t wait for others to take charge—one of our top ‘spokesmen’ among the reps.”

Alsina Perry, an employee of Kourageous Kids for more than six years, started working for Spellman and Cotton because she admired their work ethic, industry knowledge and fun-loving nature. “Kim was able to balance a flourishing business and a strong family-driven lifestyle,” Perry says. Spellman’s family—children Jessie (29) and Molly (26) and husband Todd—loved going out on their boat and fishing for hours. She was also an avid foodie and wine lover, while managing to stay fit through her other passion, spin class.

“Kim was a great problem solver as well as a team player,” Cotton says, adding that her business partner will forever hold a place in her heart. “She was truly an amazing woman with an infectious smile that will be deeply missed by our industry and many outside of it.” —Emily Beckman


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