K.NGSLEY Fashion Designer, Kingsley Gbadegesin, on Getting Started

  • K.NGSLEY is a genderless fashion brand launched by Kingsley Gbadegesin.
  • A year after its launch, it won over celebrity customers and a Teen Vogue cover.
  • This is part of the Insider Entrepreneur Series Star, rise, which highlights the first entrepreneurs.

First name: Kingsley Gbadegesin

Age: 28

Position: Brooklyn, New York

Deal: A genderless clothing line that celebrates black, queer and feminine bodies.

Past history: Despite his decades of experience in fashion, Kingsley Gbadegesin found himself filing for unemployment last year as creative jobs began to dry up. Meanwhile, the pandemic was ravaging communities and Black Lives Matter protests were sweeping the nation.

Gbadegesin decided to leverage his experience in fashion, his remaining money and new free time to launch a clothing line that would highlight and appeal to black and LGBTQ communities.

Three people sit down to shape the sweaters

KINGSLEY product images

Kingsley Gbadegesin

Thus, in September 2020, he launched the fashion brand K.NGSLEY, becoming one of more than 4 million Americans who started a business last year. The US fashion industry, although it took a hit last year, is still worth more than $ 360 billion.

Kingsley started out selling tank tops, before expanding into accessories and shoes.

“It’s important for people to feel part of the conversation and to be seen,” Gbadegesin told Insider. “I want all kinds of people and body types to feel that they too deserve to feel ‘the girl’. You have a right to feel more authentic yourself.”

Growth: Since its launch, the brand has earned six-figure revenues, according to documents seen by Insider.

He has nearly 16,000 followers on Instagram and has worked with high-profile names, such as


for his “Legendary” dance show, which saw K.NGSLEY give a gift to the show’s cast and crew. “It was a well-rounded moment,” Gbadegesin said. “Dancing has been a big part of my life since I was 15.”

Celebrities like beauty influencer Bretman Rock, pop star Lil Nas X, actress Issa Rae (on her HBO show “Insecure”) and Dwyane Wade’s daughter Zaya Wade have been spotted wearing the label. This September, Natalia Bryant, daughter of the late Kobe Bryant, wore a K.NGSLEY cardigan on her Teen Vogue cover.

The brand has also made donations to organizations such as Princess Janae Place, which helps members of the trans community find safe housing.

One person stands dressed in white

KINGSLEY product images

Kingsley Gbadegesin

Before K.NGSLEY: Gbadegesin ran his own sales and marketing company where he planned private events and campaigns for fashion brands such as Alexa Chung and Giorgio Armani.

Challenges: Finding more capital to expand the business has been difficult, Gbadegesin said, especially in the midst of a pandemic.

“Taking risks on the talent and the people I want to work with to create K.NGSLEY is how you can say that I am overcoming these challenges,” he said. “Investing in people whose work and talent I love is what I believe will help continue to drive our growth.”

Business consulting: “Put your damned ego aside,” Gbadegesin said. “Ask for help. Enter your heroes’ DMs and ask for advice, support or coffee.”

He added that it’s important to stay consistent and alert and not bow under pressure. “It’s also okay if you say no to opportunities that aren’t right for you,” she said. “This is what gives way to the yeses that matter.”

A standing person is wearing a white shirt and denim pants

KINGSLEY product images

Kingsley Gbadegesin

Business tutor: Gbadegesin says Stacie Henderson, US Head of Ecommerce, Digital & Marketing at luxury footwear company TODS, reminded him that how a fashion line is presented is only part of running a business. .

Meanwhile, Nesli Danisma, president of the fashion consultancy Angora Group, told him “even when you don’t know what you’re doing, you still do it, and that’s all that matters.”

Because now is the best time to start a business: “It takes risk, it takes courage and I say do it,” said Gbadegesin. “The best bet you can ever make is on yourself.”

Upon hiring: Right now, Gbadegesin is the only full-time in the company, although he works with nine independent contractors and four factories. He hopes to expand his team full-time next year.

On managing burnout: Gbadegesin says he’s working on ways to better manage his mental health.

“I’ve never climbed a mountain, but trust me, I know how it feels,” he said. “If you don’t take time for yourself, your body will.”

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