We had the good fortune of connecting with Kinyatta E. Gray and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kinyatta E., can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
The thought process behind starting my business, FlightsInStilettos, LLC, originated when I could not find luxury microfiber beach towels that met my idea of glam, uniqueness, and inclusivity. In other words, I could not find beach towels on the market that featured designs of sophisticated, classy, and glamorous women of color at the beach. So, after discovering this lack of representation in this particular travel/business niche (beach towel design), I immediately went to work designing inclusive luxury microfiber beach towels with various shades of women of color.
What should our readers know about your business?
I launched FlightsInStilettos, LLC in 2018 to inspire women to put their best selves forward when traveling — drawing from the days when women would travel in style. My business is different insofar as not many women of color occupy a specific travel niche, such as designing luxury beach towels with artwork of people . Take a quick look in any retail store; you’ll see that beach towels consist of stripes, unicorns, flowers, seashells, etc. — that’s great if that’s what you prefer. However, what sets my beach towels apart is that the specific designs of women are envisioned by me and illustrated by an artist. Essentially, my beach towels consist of the beautiful artwork on a luxury beach towel.
Getting to where I am was not easy; I interviewed many illustrators and went through several beach towels iterations before settling on a look that I wanted to be synonymous with my brand. Further, it took months to find a manufacturer that could produce the kind of quality beach towels to meet my standards of luxury without compromising the vibrancy of the colors on my beach towels. As I mentioned earlier, artwork of “people” is not generally on beach towels, so selling them with artwork of people was a risk — primarily because women of color exist in many shades, body types, hair textures, etc.; it’s hard to capture every unique combination. However, we release a new collection every year, so we’re confident that we will eventually create a design that suits most tastes.
I want people to know that their life will inspire the next best business idea! I launched my business based on a preference to have a beach towel with a sophisticated woman of color designed on it, and alas, 3-years later, it’s a beach towel business! My beach towels have been spotted around the world with various travelers and celebrities.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
This is a fun question!
Every outing must start with a mini photoshoot, so we’d go to the Brookside Gardens Conservatory and take beautiful pics in their perfectly curated butterfly gardens. Next, we’d take a nice day trip to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture. Following that, we’d head over to Georgetown in D.C. for cocktails and conversation on the waterfront a Sequoia’s Restaurant. And if my friends are in the mood for a bit of shopping, we’d head out to Tyson’s Corner and browse at some of our favorite high-end stores and boutiques! What a day!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Absolutely! My shoutout goes to my spouse Julie, who is also a well-established and successful business owner. Her counsel, leadership, coaching, mentoring, and even financial investments paved the way for me to launch my business and live out my dreams successfully. Having her by my side and in my corner made a difference and gave me the extra incentive and confidence boost to never give up on my quest to create a successful line of luxury beach towels that beachgoers and travelers will enjoy for years to come.
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