I'm always drawn to those who are driven to create experiences and platforms that represent their individuality and the uniqueness of a customer base that isn't being adequately served. For this reason, I was drawn to the work of Kai Avent-deLeon and Sincerely, Tommy. More than a concept store, it's a movement. Kai and the ST team are creating a space where people can engage with the work of emerging designers while connecting over coffee with others who share their same appreciation for unique beauty.
I was too excited to sit down and chat with Kai about her process, what has driven her so far and what she envisions for her future. Check out what she had to say!
RM: How is Sincerely, Tommy contributing to the creative economy in Brooklyn and New York City at large?
KAD: [Sincerely Tommy] is a platform for emerging brands. New York is a place where creatives and like-minded artists are part of the community. I wanted the store to be part of that. I wanted to carry brands that were more exclusive and focused on the art of design as well as attention to detail.
RM: Why is small business so important, what does a small business experience bring to the table?
KAD: Wherever they hang out, people are just really craving a more personalized experience and a story behind the brand. We live in a generation where everything is digital and it takes the personal connection outside of the experience. So when people are coming to a place to connect and to find something unique, small businesses can provide that. Buying into something unique is important for the customer who shops small business.
RM: As a creative and an entrepreneur what have you learned about balancing creative and business?
KAD: I'm still learning. What's really helped me is having a team behind me who I can delegate to. I'm a big fan of to-do lists and a calendar. It's always easy as a creative to do what you're passionate about but, you always have to ask in the back of your mind is there a market for what I'm offering? Having a vision is the first step. Executing on that vision and determining if there is a demographic that will buy into that is the second step. I'm clear about who I'm targeting and that makes it less difficult.
RM: Who has been your biggest supporter and how has their support impacted you?
KAD: My mother and grandmother have been my biggest support. They've been running their own businesses for as long as I can remember. I always consult with them and they are constantly providing feedback.
RM: What do you see as the future of Sincerely, Tommy?
KAD: I would love to have a second store hopefully somewhere abroad. I'm creating a lifestyle and want to translate that into other platforms.
Kai and her team are definitely creating a lifestyle, something unique coupled with a meaningful experience. I, for one, am very much looking forward to the growth of Sincerely, Tommy.