Born and raised in the Bronx, by 9 years old, Kay Dupree knew that being a fashion designer was her calling. She grew up around fashionable family members and would often sketch what they were wearing and create her own Barbie clothes.
Kay was destined to become an entrepreneur – it runs through her veins. Her dad owned a construction business for over 30 years. Watching her father run his own company made her realize that being a businesswoman was her calling.
She attended the Art Institute of NYC and graduated with a degree in fashion design in 2006. Every time she went shopping, she knew something was missing. She knew that there were other women out there who felt the same way. That is when she realized that she needed to start her own line of clothing.
Her first business idea was an urban chic fashion line which would include bomber jackets, joggers, and denim on denim everything. Some of her first designs were the “Adore My Curves” and “Heart Soul & Curves” tees.
Kay Dupree is bringing the classic, yet chic and bold flavor that the plus size industry is missing. Many companies try to make a garment bigger and call it “plus size” – but is it really? A true plus size designer, like Kay, designs full pieces for plus size women. She puts her heart and soul into her creations and you can feel it with every stitch. Who better to design for plus size woman, than a plus size woman understands the frustrations of going shopping? She simply decided not to run from her purpose.
There is a lot of challenging work, trials, and tribulations that go into starting a brand like Kay did. There is also a lot of prejudice when it comes to being an indie designer. Most manufacturers charge double the price because she is creating plus size clothing. They prefer smaller sizes because it takes less time and fabric to create. As a result, customers have to pay more – which is not fair. Since the clothes weigh more, she has to pay more to ship to her customers. As an independent company, she is charged extra for nearly every aspect of the process.
One thing Kay has learned during these harsh realities, is that there is nothing else she would rather be doing.
“I overcome these moments by reminding myself to stay in my lane. My moment will come when it’s supposed to and I can’t rush it.”
As a minority, female business owner, adversity is everywhere, but Kay is resilient. Black women in business are breaking barriers and are by the most successful group of entrepreneurs stepping out, pushing fear to the left and following the dream.
One piece of advice Kay has for anyone looking to start their own line – research…and lots of RESEARCH. This business is not for the faint of heart.
“Know your customer and understand them fully. Don’t worry about what anyone else is doing. Stay in your lane and focus on your business.”
Kay, as a fellow black woman in business, I commend you for your dedication to this process. It is because of woman like you, that others to follow will have the opportunity to serve a demographic that is, until recently, overlooked. Thank you for standing up to the industry, and taking the plunge to be amongst #BlkWomeninBiz.
Know another #BlkWomeninBiz killing it in her field? Send your submission below.