A few weeks ago, the girls of MLNNNYC, visited Kibibi Inc's popup shop in Brooklyn. KIBIBI is a contemporary womenswear boutique that caters to the everyday woman. With comfort and versatility always in mind, KIBIBI adds a flare of confidence, chicness, and elegance. This contemporary fashion line is ran by powerhouse, Jamilia Kibibi Cain. Naturally we had a few questions for our favorite girlfriend and boss babe.
MLNNNYC: What inspired the creation of Kibibi Inc?
Kibibi: Growing up, I always had a love for fashion. I started designing when I was 15 years old. When I went off to college I no longer had the drive or motivation to design so, I began styling my friends, family members and customers in which ever clothing store I was working at the time. Working as a Case Manager for 3 years became very tedious. The workload was repetitious. I was unable to be creative. I decided it was time that I do what I love and I was willing to make the sacrifice. Why not apply the skills I have learned working for powerhouses and build my own business?
MLNNNYC: What is your mission?
K: My mission is to inspire and empower young black women and create a fashion platform for women and men of color, where we no longer have to look for validation or acceptance in positions where we don’t feel comfortable.
M: How do you define your style?
K: My style is versatile, simple and chic. I don’t like following trends.
M: Who are you biggest fashion influences?
K: My biggest fashion influences are Rihanna, Zerina Akers, Marc Jacobs, and Oliver Rousteing.
M: How does your brand reflect your identity?
K: My brand reflects my identity through the vibrant, outgoing, laid back and dashing woman that I am.
M: Who is your ideal customer?
K: My ideal customer is a woman between the ages of 24-35 that is working hard, yet likes to have a little fun. She’s well -rounded, loves poetry, loves to be with her girls, yet when it comes to business, it’s business.
M: What work went into the development of your brand?
K: Whew! there was lots of work that went into the development of my brand. Working for several powerhouses, I understood the concept of buying, however, I didn’t know how to go about building the partnerships and persuading brands why they should work with me. My sample website spoke for itself. I first created a list of all brands that I wanted to work with. I then reached out to them explaining to them I was a startup and I was interested in carrying their brands at my store. I would set up appointments to meet with Showroom Managers on my lunch break. Once, I was able to get a solid list of brands that were willing to work with me, I went to a business lawyer to set up my Incorporation and get my business kit in full effect. I decided to take out a business loan to get me from the ground up. I suggest starting off with a small loan. When I had all of the legal matters taken care of I began promoting my project and informing people what I was about to do. Trust me, the process was very discouraging because many people told me no and didn’t want to work with me. There was one brand that sent me a list of line sheets with higher price mark ups, just so I can leave them alone. But, hey it all work out for the best.
M: What is the average production timeline for each piece?
K: I don’t design the merchandise sold at my boutique, however, each piece is handpicked about 2-3 months before I actually receive them to sell to my customers. The buying process is the most difficult. I am sometimes in a showroom for about 4 hours going over all the styles, ensuring the fabrics is good quality and the finishing touches are a representative of my brand.
M: Where do you see your company in 6 months? In five years?
K: In the next 6 months, I can see KIBIBI growing extremely before my eyes. I can see it becoming a national boutique that women enjoy the shopping experience, not only because of the style of the products, but because of the quality. In five years, I really hope to have a KIBIBI internship/mentorship program for young women seeking to develop and learn more about the fashion business.
M: What's next for Kibibi Inc?
K: Trust me something big is coming next, just stay tuned!
What are you waiting for , shop here.