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Kay Hamilton

The Hamilton Group

“Belief in one’s ability to succeed, and a streak of stubbornness; persistence and determination are absolutely indispensable if one is to overcome the odds stacked against new enterprises.”

About The Hamilton Group

Currently the Hamilton Group focuses on providing clients with uniforms and other apparel their employees may wear during the course of the business day or may use as personal, athletic attire.  By consulting with purchasing departments, or authorized individuals, recommendations for company uniforms, lab coats, protective jackets, sweaters, sweat suits, sweat shirts, sweat pants, tee shirts, athletic jackets, rain gear, hats (of all varieties,) rugby shirts, etc. have been submitted for consideration; orders processed, and deliveries executed. If requested, logos are designed and various embroidery styles are submitted for consideration. The Hamilton Group ensures the timely fulfillment of our clients’ industrial apparel needs.

Headquartered: Washington, DC

Founded: 2007      

Company Website:

When and how was your business started?

The Hamilton Group was founded in 2007. I had previously owned and operated a food services business. For several years my firm provided specialty sandwiches, beverages, candy bars, desserts and lunches at the downtown Baltimore metropolitan area, as well as sporting events in and around the D.C. metropolitan area. Dealing with seasonal weather conditions and significant fluctuations in “the costs of goods sold,” the challenges posed by this endeavor motivated me to pursue other opportunities. 

How has being a WBENC-Certified WBE helped your business?

For the Hamilton Group, the most beneficial aspect of WBENC Certification is the “Network.”  There is inestimable value in having knowledge of, and access to, women who own and operate successful businesses in general, and to be able to avail oneself of the knowledge and experience gained over a lifetime by successful, business women is that much more inspiring and motivating. 

What is your business philosophy and how has it impacted your success as a business? 

Honesty, promptness, efficiency and sincerity have guided the Hamilton Group’s business decisions and have been the basis for my professional conduct, as President and CEO.  These attributes have honed the skills needed to determine what are and what are not viable business opportunities, as well as enabling an accurate assessment of prospective business relationships.  The Hamilton Group’s philosophy in business is to demonstrate competence and provide prompt, comprehensive responses to clients’ and vendors’ inquiries. Issues pertaining to fabric, color, durability, embroidery, personalization, gender appropriate styles and sizing have to be  considered and resolved to everyone’s satisfaction, with attention to the specified delivery time frames and methods.

What are some of the biggest challenges and barriers you’ve faced as a woman business owner? How have you overcome them?

Timely and accurate communication is essential to the success of any enterprise, but given the challenge of overcoming longstanding prejudices against women-owned firms, especially when the enterprise is minority-owned and operated, gaining acceptance has proven to be a tremendous challenge. Historically, this regional economy has demonstrated a reluctance to engage Small Business Enterprises (SBEs) in general, and women-owned firms in particular.  Through persistence, and the ability to provide the highest quality merchandise specified, the Hamilton Group has realized some degree of professional success. We continuously strive to expand our client base and pursue new client and vendor relationships. The exploitation of all modes of communication has been used to facilitate business processes; via cold calls, email marketing, direct website access, convention and trade show attendance.  

What is your proudest moment thus far in business?

 The Hamilton Group’s initial efforts were directed toward specialty merchandise sales. I enjoyed designing and customizing promotional items for my clients. Having received a request to provide uniforms for a regional government agency, the Hamilton Group’s response provided an agency design logo and suggested name tag embroidery. The client expressed gratitude for the promptness and comprehensiveness of our fulfillment proposal.  

What advice do you have for new entrepreneurs?

I would advise new entrepreneurs to stay committed to their dream of owning and operating their own business.  They need to be aware of the challenges that will confront them; the difficulties that must be overcome and the disappointments that will inevitably arise. Belief in one’s ability to succeed, a streak of stubbornness, persistence, and determination are absolutely indispensable if one is to overcome the odds stacked against new enterprises.    

How did you first learn about WBENC Certification?

I was introduced to the organization in 2007 by a then current certified WBE, Ms. Michelle Smith of 1st Choice, which is a management consulting firm located in Silver Spring, MD.  In the past, Ms. Smith purchased promotional items and uniforms from the Hamilton Group.  She suggested WBENC certification as a means of enhancing my networking opportunities and expanding business contacts, for contracting and partnership purposes.

What advice would you share with a newly certified WBE looking to make the most out of her certification?  

My counsel would be “persist.” Do not be over bearing, but stay true to yourself, your belief in your endeavor and maintain your devotion to achieving the success you envision.

Have you partnered with other WBENC-Certified WBEs on contracts or utilized other WBEs as suppliers? If so, what has been the benefit? Why do you feel it is important to work with other WBEs in the WBENC network?

My most recent collaboration with another WBE involved partnering with Ms. Elise Elfman on a contract won by her firm, Unitec, Inc., for the provision of uniforms to state employees. Ms. Elfman’s firm, which is located in Westminster, MD., won a state of Maryland contract to provide uniforms to state employees. The contract stipulated a minority set aside.  I met Ms. Elfman at one of the WBENC sponsored Brown Bag Lunch Series events, which was held in the District, and was sponsored by the Women Presidents’ Educational Organization of Washington, DC (WPEO-DC.)  We discussed and subsequently agreed upon a contract for the Hamilton Group to provide uniforms which incorporated silk screening and embroidery services, as needed.

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

There were no professional business persons who acted as a mentor or adviser; someone to whom I could go for advice and counsel.  Much of the knowledge, information and business acumen I have acquired has been through my personal experiences and observations. Initially, on rare occasions, I sought input from college classmates who were working in corporate environments, to seek feedback on their sense of professional fulfillment, and verification that the plan I had chosen was appropriate for me.

What should a every first-time attendee know about the conference before they arrive?

Every first-time attendee should know that the value of their experience will be proportionate to the amount of effort they expend. In order to facilitate opportunities for success, seminars, trade shows and other WBENC events must be recognized as the valuable resource they represent. If economically viable, these events should be attended by new members, in order to broaden their knowledge of the important projects, opportunities and programs that exist in the local economy