- K. NGSLEY is a gender-neutral fashion brand launched by Kingsley Gbadegesin.
- A year after its launch, it won famous clients and a Teen Vogue cover.
- This is part of the Insider Entrepreneur Series Rising star, which highlights the first entrepreneurs.
Last name: Kingsley Gbadegesin
Site: Brooklyn, New York
Business: A genderless clothing line which celebrates black, queer and female bodies.
Pass: Despite his decade of fashion experience, Kingsley Gbadegesin found itself filing for unemployment last year as creative jobs started to dry up. Meanwhile, the pandemic was ravaging communities and the Black Lives Matter protests were sweeping the nation.
Gbadegesin decided to use her fashion background, her remaining money and her new free time to launch a clothing line that showcases and caters to black and LGBTQ communities.
Thus, in September 2020, he launched the fashion brand K.NGSLEY, becoming one of the most 4 million Americans who started a business last year. The American fashion industry, although it took a hit last year, is still worth more than 360 billion dollars.
Kingsley started out selling tank tops, before moving on to accessories and footwear.
âIt’s important that people feel like they’re part of the conversation and that they’re being seen,â Gbadegesin told Insider. “I want all types of people and body types to feel that they too deserve to feel like ‘the girl.’ You have a right to feel like your most authentic self.”
Growth: Since its launch, the brand has achieved six figures in revenue, according to documents seen by Insider.
He almost 16,000 subscribers on Instagram and has worked with prominent names, such as
for his ballroom competition show “Legendary”, which saw K.NGSLEY offer floats to the show’s cast and crew. âIt was a complete moment,â Gbadegesin said. “The ballroom has been a part of my life since I was 15.”
Celebrities like a beauty influencer Bretman Rock, pop star Lil nas x, actress Issa Rae (in his HBO show “Insecure”), and Zaya Wade, daughter of Dwyane Wade, were seen bearing the mark. Last September, Natalia Bryant, daughter of the late Kobe Bryant, wore a K.NGSLEY cardigan on his cover of Vogue teens.
The brand has also made donations to organizations such as Princess Janae Square, which helps members of the trans community find safe housing.
Before K.NGSLEY: Gbadegesin operated his own sales and marketing business where he planned private events and campaigns for fashion brands such as Alexa Chung and Giorgio Armani.
Challenges: Finding more capital to grow the business has been difficult, Gbadegesin said, especially in the midst of a pandemic.
âTaking risks on the talents and the people I want to work with to create K.NGSLEY is the way you can say I’m overcoming these challenges,â he said. âInvesting in people whose work and talent I love is what I believe will help continue to drive our growth. ”
Business consultancy : âPure your damn ego aside,â Gbadegesin said. “Ask for help. Slip into your heroes’ DMs and ask for advice, support, or coffee.”
He added that it is important to remain consistent and vigilant and not to bow under pressure. âIt’s also OK if you say no to opportunities that aren’t right for you,â he said. “That’s what makes room for the yeses that matter.”
Business mentor: Gbadegesin says Stacie Henderson, US head of e-commerce, digital and marketing for luxury shoe company TODS, reminded him that showcasing a fashion line is only part of running a business.
During this time, Nesli Danisma, president of the fashion consultancy firm Angora Group, told him “even when you don’t know what you’re doing, you do it anyway, and that’s all that matters”.
Why is this the best time to start a business: âIt takes risks, it takes guts, and I say do it,â Gbadegesin said. “The best bet you can make is on yourself.”
At hiring : At present, Gbadegesin is the only full-time in the business, although he works with nine independent contractors and four factories. Next year, he hopes to expand his full-time team.
On the management of burnout: Gbadegesin says he’s working on ways to better manage his mental health.
âI’ve never climbed a mountain, but trust me I know what it feels like,â he said. “If you don’t take time for yourself, your body will.”