Ugonna Ezuma-Igwe | Managing Editor

Kyrah’s Kustoms is owned by Nakyrah who goes by Kyrah. Kyrah was a Design Studies major with a Business Entrepreneurship minor with NC State’s Class of 2020. 

 

NM: Why did you start your Business?

KK: I’ve been into the arts all my life; my dad is a designer, so I was heavily influenced and inspired by his passion for his work. I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA and was blessed to be exposed to so many art disciplines and cultures, which played a big part in why I love to create and explore different mediums.

 

NM: How would you describe your business? What services do you provide? 

KK: Kyrah’s Kustoms offers hand-painted sneakers and custom dyed socks. If I had to describe my business in three words I’d choose: flexible, growing, and original.

 

NM: When did you start your business and what inspired you to start your business?

KK: So I started Kyrah’s Kustoms in September 2019, purely out of curiosity. I was really starting to grow an interest in entrepreneurship. This was around the time I had started taking entrepreneurship classes. I knew that I loved drawing, had a talent for it, and that people love to express themselves with their sneakers. So I decided to put all of this together and run with it.

 

NM: Have you found it challenging to be a woman and a business owner? If so, what challenges have you had?

KK: As a woman in design and business, I’ve always faced challenges; the biggest being doubt from others. I’ve had people ​attempt ​to steer me away from entrepreneurship and design, or tell me that I’m overcharging or doing too much. It’s this false, preconstructed notion of who’s validated in design and/or entrepreneurship that has been my biggest challenge.

 

NM: What did you do to overcome the challenges you’ve faced?

KK:  I take all of that negative energy and redirect it into a positive space. It all goes right to my paintbrush and turns into something great. It’s better to create and invoke opinions from others, good or bad, than to create and no one think anything of your work. That being said, I just keep it moving.

 

NM: Have you found it challenging to be a Black woman and a business owner? If so, what challenges have you had?

KK: It’s harder for people to take you seriously as a Black woman and business owner, a lot of people don’t want to see us win. It often feels like the odds are against me. That I have to work 100 times harder just to be considered. The most challenging part is the doubt, and then the envy, from others that comes with succeeding.

 

NM: What did you do to overcome the challenges you’ve faced?

KK: I overcome these challenges by refusing to quit. I don’t create to prove a point to others, but in my decision to continue creating despite the negativity, I’m proving a point. These challenges are something that aren’t going to stop, so it’s important for me to emphasize and acknowledge the fact that I am a Black woman defying these stereotypes.

 

NM: What is your creative process when creating a design?

KK: I typically sketch a design out first on paper and then I go directly to the shoe. I often just dive right into the shoe design, I trust my hand.

 

NM: Where do you draw your inspiration from for each design?

KK: My inspiration is drawn from many places, music, nature, other designers, the community around me. I often get really good ideas at the most random place and time, and it’s usually from the weirdest, or smallest, detail.

 

NM: Where would you like to take your business?

KK: I want my business to become a full-time gig, and I’d love to be the custom sneaker go-to for both local artists and big names.

 

NM: What was the most challenging part about starting your business?

KK: The most challenging part was actually getting started. I had the idea for a good minute, but it wasn’t until I pushed myself to stop worrying about the ‘what-ifs’ that I actually started Kyrah’s Kustoms.

 

NM: What sets you apart from other business?

KK: My unique perspective and attention to detail sets me apart in the customization industry. As an overall business, my passion for uplifting other artists is something different; I love to feature music from local artists in my process videos, and am super present in the local art community as a whole.

 

NM: What was most surprising to you about starting your own business?

KK: Honestly, I was surprised in my ability to actually manage this business. Before Kyrah’s Kustoms, I hadn’t really pushed myself all of the way out of my comfort zone.

 

NM: What business ​achievement are you most proud of?

KK: I was recently accepted into NC State’s Miller Fellowship, in which NC State will invest in Kyrah’s Kustoms and provide me with tools to help get this business truly up and running. To know that NC State believes in Kyrah’s Kustoms is my biggest achievement thus far.

 

NM: What’s your favorite part about owning your own business?

KK: I love working on my own time and being able to try new things whenever I want. I also love the people I’ve been able to meet.

 

NM:What do you wish you had known before starting a business?

KK: I wish I knew more about advertising and what it really takes to gain an audience’s trust.

 

NM: What can we expect to see from you this year ?

KK: More customs, more music, more videos, and some new giveaways!

 

NM: For someone trying to start a business what advice would you give them?

KK: Layout all of your current goals and understand your market before diving into it. I’d also make sure you have enough time to commit to your business; people often underestimate how much time is really put into building a brand.

Kyrah’s Kustoms can be found on Instagram @kyrahskustoms, which is also her Youtube Channel. She also posts a lot of business related content on her personal account @kyrah.98. Below are images of her work.