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Kenya Kirkland: Mother, Businesswoman and Style Icon
By Kimberlee Buck, Contributing Writer
Published June 15, 2016
 South LA based entrepreneur Kenya Kirkland (Courtesy photo)

South LA based entrepreneur Kenya Kirkland (Courtesy photo)

To everyone who thinks you can’t be a businesswoman, mother of three and entrepreneur, meet Kenya Kirkland, a Los Angeles native inspiring and encouraging young black professionals to go after what they want and teaching them how to do it.

Kirkland helps to guide other entrepreneurs so they can learn from her experiences.

“I learned most of what I know from mistakes and experiences. But I’m naturally a mentor. I really want to allow people to learn from my experiences. In our community, sharing, coaching and mentoring are important to our growth and success. I guide other entrepreneurs because it is the answer to legacy building,” said Kirkland.

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Prior to becoming a business owner, Kirkland spent her time in retail management with Macy’s and BCBG and real estate. She left BCBG to follow her dream of becoming an apparel designer, eventually obtaining a degree from FIDM.

This led up to the launch of her first business in 1999 when she was a sophomore at Clark Atlanta University. She started a denim line called Dea ‘Jenne. The collection was sold in parts of Los Angeles and Atlanta.

“While attaining my degree from FIDM, an opportunity was presented to rent a space. I immediately hopped on the opportunity and turned it into a resale clothing business which eventually grew into the business that I run now,” said Kirkland.

"Fashion is my passion. Not just the clothing but the business & the creativity it takes to make it all happen," said Kirkland. (Courtesy photo)

“Fashion is my passion. Not just the clothing but the business & the creativity it takes to make it all happen,” said Kirkland. (Courtesy photo)

Not only is Kirkland a business owner but she also designs and produces her own collections in a women’s apparel boutique in Inglewood that she just so happens to own. Aside from that, she operates a transitional living program in Los Angeles called ‘A Step to Freedom’ a sober living environment for men and women who are transitioning from homelessness.

More recently, she has launched a coaching and mentoring business with a brand called, ‘Kenya Kirkland Thee Style Icon.’

“My target customers are women who have experienced set- backs in their lives but are willing to use those setbacks to fuel their purpose, share their stories and launch businesses that serve the world,” said Kirkland.

Kirkland tells the Sentinel the hardest lesson she has learned about being a Black female business owner in South LA is fiscal responsibility and the importance of community support.

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“My clothing store struggled for a while in the beginning because I depended solely on friends and family to support. But my businesses began to thrive the moment I became visible to more people by giving back, partnering with other business owners and creatives in the community,” said Kirkland.

In her spare time when she isn’t taking care of her several businesses, Kirkland is spending time with her children, her number one supporters and hosting her annual toiletry drives for women on skid row.

“My goal is to donate 100 care packages to women in need who are living on the streets of downtown Los Angeles. I simply want them to know that we care about them. In November I’m hosting my 3rd annual blanket drive. Last year we delivered 200 blankets and 50 toiletry packages to skid row,” said Kirkland.

This woman of God remains humble and sees him as her biggest influence.

“I don’t do this because it’s easy. It is not. I coach, mentor and share my story out of obedience to the Lord. I refuse to allow my pain to be in vain. My test is my testimony. If I can heal and thrive in my purpose anyone can,” said Kirkland.

The entrepreneur has three pieces of advice for young Black professionals interested in starting their own business: keep God first, tithe and be obedient.

“It won’t be easy, you will face adversity and even failure. But remember that those moments are preparation for your WIN. You are a winner. You are more than enough. And people are waiting for you to show up and serve. So don’t leave them hanging,” said Kirkland.

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