Photo by: Ron Specs
Kemi Alao is a Bronx born, Houston based fashion designer and owner of her own brand, KYRA. This path was a long time coming, as by the age of eight, she knew she wanted to be a fashion designer. “I was always into sketching, playing dress up, solving puzzles & building things,” she says. “I enjoyed activities that required logical reasoning, which is probably why I really enjoy the construction/design part of designing.” By her sophomore year in high school, Kemi decided to launch her brand, naming it KYRA (an acronym of her initials).
She is a small business competing in a saturated market, so she has had to set herself and KYRA apart from the competition. Innovation has been key and due to many fabrics being unavailable in smaller quantities, she’s had to be that much more creative. “We use innovative design elements and textiles to create staple/statement hybrid pieces for their own unique uses,” she says. Another key difference is the brand’s environmental consciousness. “The fashion industry has been a major industrial polluter. In order to combat that, most of our fabrics contain natural fibers, so they can be recyclable. To cut down on waste, each garment is made to order.”
Kemi was working a full-time job up until 2015, but left it to pursue a design internship and to focus on KYRA. “I still had my parents to rely on but it was hard shifting from a constant cash flow to sporadic income.” But she has had successes along the way, since making her business her only job. “Organizing my first exhibition for my last collection, Vermillion,” she says. “It was an amazing experience.” And she credits her friends and family for helping her make it happen.
Kemi looks to open a KYRA flagship store in the future, and see her success as being defined by being able to operate within her gift, having strong faith and stability. She feels that with those things in place, everything else she’d need would follow. She wants to be remembered as having “been a light in this world,” she says. “A person that used my gifts and passions to reach the hearts of those around me and across the globe; A selfless, determined Woman of God.” We definitely #COSIGN that.
Who does Kemi #COSIGN?
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