Kai Avent-deLeon Turned Her Store Into A Community
Photographed by Brad Ogbonna.
In celebration of Black History Month, NYLON is running a spotlight series called Black Girl Power... The Future Is Bright. Every day, phenomenal black women from different industries will be featured to tell their stories—revealing how they became who they are, showing what they have accomplished, and pinpointing how they navigated their careers. Black women deserve to be celebrated 365 days of the year, and we hope that this series will inspire everyone to believe in the power of #blackgirlmagic.
Kai Avent-deLeon is the founder of Sincerely, Tommy, a concept store tucked away in the heart of Bed-Stuy. Having grown up in the area on Tompkins and Jefferson, it only felt natural for the 27-year-old to open her store on the street where it all started. The concept for Sincerely, Tommy came to Avent-deLeon about three years ago when she recognized a gap in diversity in terms of what brands were being sold in stores that she frequented. "New York is this hub for creatives to come and designers to come and be discovered and I wanted to know where those brands were and where I could shop for those," said Avent-deLeon. "I decided that I was going to be that place for the emerging lines that weren't carried in other stores in New York."
Avent-deLeon entered the retail field after she landed her first job at Addy & Ferro when she was 16 years old. "I started off as an intern and then I was there for three years and by the time I left, I was doing buying for them," she said. "It was in that environment that I knew that I wanted to own a store and be a buyer. I really fell in love with that world. They really took me under their wing and I gained a lot of experience there. I think I kind of realized that one of the best ways to learn how to own a store is to actually work it."
From there, Avent-deLeon went on to study at LIM and FIT for two years, but decided that there was more to be learned by working in the retail space. She tried everything from operations to management. Now, she's running her own store where womenswear meets lifestyle, fashion, and art. Get to know more about Avent-deLeon in the interview below!