Georgia Magazine - October 2021 - 18
" Be the light " T-shirt featuring three bright-yellow lightbulbs
launched on March 21, 2018-World Down Syndrome Day-
and was an instant success.
Other T-shirt designs feature some of her favorite sayings,
like " Just love everybody " and " Go with the flow, " which is
written underneath a turquoise van. One of the most poignant
designs showcases a glass of lemonade above the phrase " I
made lemonade " -a nod to the adage " When life gives you
lemons, make lemonade. "
Carrie Key explains the significance of the three red hearts
that make up the Candidly Kind business logo.
" The three is somewhat symbolic of the three copies of the
21st chromosome [a characteristic of Down syndrome], " she
says. " And when Grace was 5 months old, she had open-heart
surgery-a lot of children with Down syndrome have to undergo
cardiac surgery-and so Grace has always loved to paint hearts.
One night when we were considering different logos, we noticed
the three hearts on her 'Be the light' design and said, 'That's it!' "
Grace Key is the salesperson, spokesperson, creative
designer, painter, online model, order entry technician, label
maker, packer, wrapper and shipper for her business.
" And she writes a personalized note to every customer, " her
mother says. " She loves that part. She's stayed up for hours after
midnight writing those notes. "
She's also contributed more than $45,000 of the business's
profits to charities that share her vision.
During the early days of the pandemic, Grace and Carrie
Key sold more than 1,000 washable masks, 75 of which were
bought by a woman who works at Grady Memorial Hospital
in Atlanta, who gave them to people at Grady who didn't have
reusable masks. The Keys returned the favor by donating $1,500
of the profits from mask sales to the Henry W. Grady Health
Secret to her success
Candidly Kind's marketing strategy includes posting photos
and videos to social media such as Facebook, Instagram and
TikTok. Thousands of people worldwide follow Grace Key.
" Her message resonates with people, " her mother says.
" They respond to her. The business has grown because of her. "
Last year, the Keys planned a push for holiday sales that
would begin shortly after Thanksgiving. They ordered thousands
of shirts for their inventory. Then the unthinkable happened.
" We were hacked, and Facebook and Instagram suspended
our accounts, and because of the nature of the attack, our
accounts were probably going to be canceled, " Carrie Key says.
" Online marketing and sales are the biggest parts of our
business strategy. Without them, we can't sell our products. "
Days later, a stranger in Colorado reached out via email.
October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month, dedicated to
sending the message that people with Down syndrome have
great abilities, are capable of doing anything they set their minds
to and are valued, productive members of society. Learn more at
ndss.org, the offi cial site of the National Down Syndrome Society.
18 Georgia Magazine October 2021
Grace Key works on her fi rst design, " Be the
light, " with the assistance of art teacher Robin Proffi tt.
Key and her mother started Candidly Kind in 2018.
The stranger told Carrie Key that she had followed Grace since
day one and was inspired by her effervescent spirit and positive
attitude. The stranger said she knew someone with strong ties to
Facebook and would contact her friend and ask for help.
" I wasn't very hopeful, but then Brandee Barker [a public
relations guru who was once director of corporate communications
for Facebook] contacted me on Dec. 10. Brandee reached
out to [Facebook Chief Operating Officer] Sheryl Sandberg
and the two founders of Instagram, and within minutes, our
accounts were restored, " Carrie Key says. " After that, we sold a
bunch of shirts! "
In addition to running Candidly Kind, Grace Key has become
a motivational speaker and an " online beauty influencer. "
She was featured in a 2020 television commercial for FabFitFun,
a subscription service that delivers beauty, fashion and wellness
products. She is also a partner for Urban Decay cosmetics, a
division of L'Oréal USA.
Grace Key enters into everything she does with the heart
and soul of a champion-always positive and " candidly kind. "
" I want the world to know that I can do anything-we can
do anything, " she says. " And love everybody. That's what it's all
about. Just love everybody. "
Amber Lanier Nagle is a freelance writer who lives in
Candidly Kind, candidlykind.com
Social media: facebook.com/candidlykind, instagram.com/
Georgia Magazine - October 2021
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - October 2021
Georgia Magazine - October 2021 - Cover1
Georgia Magazine - October 2021 - Cover2
Georgia Magazine - October 2021 - Contents
Georgia Magazine - October 2021 - 4
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