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Black creators are setting the trends, moving the needle and informing where the worlds of fashion, beauty, and lifestyle are headed. In our series, Shop Black, we talk to entrepreneurs about their journeys, their brands and the realities of being Black business owners. Through ‘Shop Black’ you’ll be introduced to some game-changing style stars and have the opportunity to shop and support their work.
They say there’s something about motherhood that makes you a superwoman and if there’s any truth to that Kiki Ayers is that and then some. Before she even put on her mommy cape, this Howard University graduate was a major power player as a Hollywood publicist with Ayers Publicity, on-air talent and all-around boss. Her recently launched mommy & me clothing line, Kopy Kats, is just the next step in her legacy and quest for generational wealth. The businesswoman had a chat with ESSENCE about her journey to entrepreneurship, what motherhood has taught her and what you should be shopping from her new line.
Name: Kiki Ayers
Location: Los Angeles, California
Briefly tell us a bit about your journey to Kopy Kats.
Kopy Kats was inspired when I was pregnant. I was searching for maternity shoot inspiration and came across a lot of family photos. I noticed parents were struggling to match with their kids. As I searched deeper I saw there were cute mommy & me lines, but nothing for the boys. During pregnancy, I also knew I wanted to do something for my son to create generational wealth. I experienced a lot of unfortunate economical circumstances growing up and I didn’t want my son to have to go through anything I went through.
Describe Kopy Kats with a song title.
A song title for the process would be Beyonce’s ‘Beautiful Nightmare’ because it’s so much fun creating but there’s so much that goes into production that will make you want to give up every day. I was so stressed but thankfully had my great friend Maxie J who is one of the biggest fashion gurus in LA as my mentor. She was my sanity through this and literally was there for me the entire step of the way because I had no clue how to even begin this. There were so many ups and downs and tears and arguments and laugher and excitement.
What’s the most challenging part of being a Black woman entrepreneur?
The most challenging part of being a black woman entrepreneur is being black and being a woman. I have people trying to take advantage of me every day because I’m Black or they won’t take me as serious. Then with being a female I’ll experience men trying to take advantage of me and low ball me. I think I look younger, I have a soft-spoken voice and I’m really happy and friendly but a lot of times that comes off as a weakness. People will definitely attempt to take advantage of my kindness and try to pay a lower rate or try to get me to work first without payment but I stand a firm ground on it. My business mindset won’t ever fold when it comes to that.
What has been your biggest victory thus far?
My biggest victory has been launching a successful PR firm when I was homeless and creating a clothing business with a newborn. I feel like the best things you can ever create are life and opportunity and knowing that I created a situation for my son to be set for life just makes me proud of myself for the first time ever in life. It was so hard and I honestly thought it wasn’t going to happen because I was so keen on not having an investor but I restructured my PR plan to sell bundle deals with 3 and 6 month packages and people bought them without hesitation so I used the money from one business to invest in the other and thankfully it worked out. My first 3-month deal came right in time to make the deposit for my clothing and the first 6-month deal came in time to pay the balance so God was definitely with me through this entire journey and I’m so thankful.
How has motherhood prepared you for this new venture?
Motherhood has prepared me for this new venture because as the mom of an infant baby boy, I personally see the struggle to find things that are fashionable for not only boys but for babies his age. Even for girls, a lot of fashionable options start at 2T. Our sizes start at 6 months and go all the way up to 6T for babies and kids. So even infants can look as cool as their parents.
You talked a bit about building a legacy for your son by creating business ventures like Kopy Kats. Can you expand on that notion?
Yes, I wanted this business to be about generational wealth. I want my son to do anything he wants in life but to go into any field with a business mindset. I learned through my experiences that the worst thing you can ever do is be in a position where someone else has full financial control over you. These big branded companies and organizations are great to work for/play for but until you have full ownership you’re disposable at any time and then you have nothing to fall back on. If he can gain those skills early on in life then he can be successful at anything. It’s all about your mindset. I believe this company will be the start of him developing those skills sets and then from here, he’ll be in the position to do amazing things in any field he chooses.
Shop Kiki’s favorite products below!
The post Shop Black: A Power PR Player Launches Adorable Mommy & Me Gear appeared first on Essence.
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