Who: Kai Avent-deLeon
What: Owner of Sincerely, Tommy
Where: Bedford-Stuyvesant , Brooklyn
Why: Since I was 16 I knew I wanted to own a clothing store in my community. I was always obsessed with style in some capacity, but it wasn't until my first job at Addy & Ferro that I really narrowed it down. The owners of the boutique took me under their wing and taught me so much about how to run a store. They also mastered the ability to create an innovative retail space that really connected with their neighborhood. Addy & Ferro was like the hub for all the creatives in Brooklyn and I fell in love with that energy from very young. After that experience I continued to take on jobs that would allow me learn the process of running a retail business, I had a stint at Chanel and Artizia. Once I left Aritzia I felt like it was time to step out on my own and open Sincerely, Tommy.
My style philosophy is: Style over fashion always.
The most stylish woman I know right now: My mom, Lisa deLeon
5 of the most stylish people you must follow on Instagram are: Marjon Carlos, Oroma Elewa, Amber Liao (our amazing intern), Shayla Cox Milan, Julia Sarr Jamos, and Phoebe Collings James (oops that's 5).
You need to know this designer: Recho Omondi and Lauren Levin
The most coveted item in my closet is: A vintage yellow Dior dress with brass buttons going down the front. It looks like a knee length blazer.
I manage to stay a financially savvy fashionista by: I invest in quality key pieces and then buy my basics from spots like Zara or H&M.
I turned my passion into a business by: I utilized everyone around me who owned a small business and worked in small businesses similar to what I wanted to open. I also found SCORE extremely helpful during the process of writing my business plan. The counselors offer free help and were always available. SCORE also offers different courses for business owners, I went to several that catered to my needs. I liked that I was able to work closely with a counselor who was already knowledgeable in the retail fashion industry.
My boyfriend, who also runs his own small business, shared a lot of tools that I never utilized before like Google docs! It's hilarious, but once he put me on it improved my financial planning immensely. Having a bookkeeper and accountant came in handy down the line. I would say the hands on experience was the most beneficial.
Check out Kai's chic style chronicled in the gallery above.