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Q. Tell me a little bit about Bedlam, how did it start and how did you come up with the name for it?
A. I actually started embellishing my prescription glasses and making earrings in the 11th grade, which was centuries ago (lol) but I didn’t make a business out of it until 2010.
I’d just had a baby and was really on a creative high from just being blessed to be this vessel to behold one of God’s most amazing creations, so I decided then that it was time to start my own accessory line. Friends of mine had been telling me for years that I should start a company but I never really felt motivated to do so until then. Bedlam’s name was originally two different names: First there was “AryK” (which is my name spelled backwards) and I thought that was a little too soft, and didn’t personify what and who I am or my aesthetic, so I changed it to “Lewd & Lascivious.”
I thought that name was too literal and a bit corny, so I was actually at stand still.
I then turned to a great friend of mine, Elisha, to help me look for words that had the same meaning or feel for “Lewd & Lascivious”. We broke out the thesaurus and the dictionary and we landed on Bedlam, which means “the place of uproar and chaos; destructive beauty.” And I was like, “That’s the one!”
It’s exactly who I am. A little chaotic, destructive, yet beautiful…I honestly think that describes the essence of a woman in a way.
Q. What’s the inspiration behind your company/brand/line?
A. Besides the definition of Bedlam, “Bedlam” is also the nickname for London’s first hospital to house patients with mental illnesses, and for some reason I have always been fascinated with mental illnesses and human behavior.
Bedlam is definitely heavily inspired by the history of the actual Bedlam structure.
Q. Being a young African-American woman, what are some of the challenges you’ve faced whether personal or business related, when starting your own company?
A. I’ve noticed that women can be very judgmental and catty!
It takes so much work to get another woman, and sadly, an African American woman to support another African American woman.
We are constantly in a state of competition instead of unity and that has been the biggest challenge I have experienced. Also of course it is definitely hard to make a name for yourself and sort through people who actually believe in your brand and what you do, as opposed to just jumping on your wagon because you seem to be popular at the moment.
This industry is filled with what I call “band-wagoners”.
Q. Are there any celebrities or reality TV stars that have been seen wearing your brand, if so, who?
A.We have had several pieces on the show “Jerseylicious”; we have also been worn by Evelyn Lozada and Shaunie O’Neal of the Basketball Wives Miami, Kai Morae (LisaRaye’s Daughter), Vanessa Simmons, and Fos Rock just to name a few.
We have also been seen in quite a few music videos for local artists.
Q. Tell me about Kyra the designer, name a few of your inspirations and how they’ve influenced your brand.
A. I have such a hard time talking about myself…lol! Let’s see… I would say that I am a very passionate artist.
I take my art very seriously as well as the art of others, I am loving and giving, and I am a huge believer that everyone needs someone that is going to the show them love for no other reason but for the simple fact that they are alive. This world is tough enough with everyone always looking out for themselves that I feel it is necessary to go against the grain and love people in spite of themselves. I definitely do not do this for fame or popularity; I really just do it because I love it.
All of the extra attention that came with it is just icing on the cake!
My inspirations… I am VERY inspired by Alexander McQueen, in my opinion he is the best that has ever done ANYTHING fashion related. I am also heavily inspired by Betsey Johnson. She is very free and I can see the love and joy she has for life in all of her designs. I am constantly trying to translate the joy and love Betsey shows and the uniqueness, opulence, and dark edge that McQueen evokes into my designs. I will never be comparable to them but I definitely look up to both of them a great deal.
Q. Name a few of your accomplishments as a designer and/or a business owner.
A. I was nominated at RAW Artist of the Year 2011, I have been blessed to have my work on the cover of Mandatory Business Magazine and BE Magazine. I was graced with a full five page spread in Evolve Magazine.
I was featured twice in the Oakland Examiner, which was a tremendous blessing as well, to name a few.
Q. So, I know that you’re a mother, how do you balance your work and home life?
A. My son is a HUGE part of my work ethic, and he is my little helper so to speak. He has such a huge personality and he definitely has his own likes and dislikes. When I finish something I always ask him “Do you like this?” and he says yes or no.
Sometimes I listen to him but most times I think it’s just really cute! He comes before anything so a lot of times I do work very late at night until he wakes up in the morning, so I don’t sleep much, but it is more than worth it.
I can’t wait for him to get older and see all the different ways he is going to express himself artistically.
Q. Knowing that society has separated everyone by a certain “class,” who do you believe that your brand speaks for, and speaks to?
A. I can honestly say that my brand is not class specific. I know that Bedlam is not for everyone.
Bedlam is more for those who don’t mind being different or daring.
Q. Do you have any up-coming projects or events that you would like everyone to know about?
A. We are currently working on our Spring/Summer 2012 collection which will feature pieces that are a lot more wearable than those of previous collections. We are also working on a comic book telling the story behind why I started Bedlam and why I started embellishing glasses in the first place.
We have also teamed up with amazing celebrity stylist, Anthony Bradshaw, so we are carried in his style house which means much more Bedlam celebrity sightings are soon to come.
Q. If people wanted to learn more about you and your brand, how can they find you?
Me: Thank you so much for sitting down with me, I wish you and your company MUCH success!!!
KK: THANK YOU IT WAS A PLEASURE AND AN HONOR!!!