Meet Kinyatta E. Gray: The Entrepreneur Who Went 'From Section 8 to C.E.O'
Already a top favourite amongst A-listers, FlightsInStilettos has been spotted globally supporting celebrities from Carol Maraj (Mother of Nicki Minaj) to ‘Housewives of New Jersey’s, Delores and featured on billboards in NYC’s Times Square. With Flights resuming shortly, we envision ‘FlightsInStilettos’ being every glamorous woman who takes pride in their image whilst travelling, favourite lifestyle brand.
Not only does Founder, Entrepreneur and Author, Kinyatta E. Gray pride herself in travelling glamorously, she believes other women should too. From outside the airport, to the runway, FlightsInStilettos is to inspire women worldwide enhancing their travel style by putting their best selves forward.
Gray joined us to discuss the inspiration behind FlightsInStilettos, how she’s managed to overcome obstacles she’s faced along the way, success, plus much more.
The Davi Magazine: From Flight Attendants to Travelistas, FlightsInStilettos has been seen worldwide in over 10 countries. Taking us back, what inspired the creation of the brand?
Kinyatta E. Gray: Let me first say that I am incredibly honoured to be interviewed by The Davi Magazine. I was inspired to create FlightsInStilettos after taking a trip with friends and literally wearing my favourite stilettos through the airport. I was met with so many different reactions from people in the airport who noticed me wearing my favourite high heels. After I returned home from this particular trip, I joined a travel club, thought about my recent trip and love of stilettos and the fact that whenever I travelled again, I would wear stilettos – so the words FlightsInStilettos came to mind. In essence, I identified a preference (wearing stilettos through the airport) and monetised my life.
TDM: How much have FlightsInStilettos been inspired by your personal experiences?
Gray: FlightsInStilettos is 100% inspired by my personal experiences. I’m very particular about how I show up – even at the airport. Hence why I have not only started a business, but a movement to inspire women to put their best selves forward when travelling.
TDM: Which one person would you like to thank for where you are today?
Gray: Without a doubt, I would like to thank my mother, the late Beverly Esther Carroll. She was the first person I bounced ideas off for this business and she was a key supporter who encouraged me to pursue developing a plan for FlightsInStilettos. She believed in
the brand and predicted its future success. Secondly, I know that you asked for one person, but I have to also thank my spouse Julie, because she also invested a lot of support emotionally and financially to help me pursue my passion.
TDM: Your Mother was one of your most supportive fans inspiring you to take great leaps into the unknown and to believe in yourself, which has led to your great success. However, success doesn’t come easy. What are some of the obstacles you faced whilst creating FlightsInStilettos and how were you able to overcome them?
Gray: One of the biggest obstacles I faced was self-doubt. There were times when I actually thought FlightsInStilettos didn’t make much sense. I overcame this instantly when I met with Flight Attendants and other travellers and simply asked them what they thought about my movement to bring style back to travelling.
"Almost everyone agreed
that it was long overdue and was happy
that I was taking this on."
Another obstacle I faced was improper marketing and branding. I thought I had the skills I needed to build an inviting and attractive website and messaging and I wanted to save money. I later realised that there are certain things that I needed to allow those with experience and a certain type of expertise to manage for me. I hired a brand strategist
(with a proven track record) to totally revamp my messaging and website. She gave my
website a new look and feel – which ultimately projected that sense of style and glamour
that I wanted potential customers to experience when they visited my website.
TDM: Amazing! Bold enough to share your story, and authentic in revealing your vulnerabilities, we’ve recently seen you become a published author honouring your Mothers legacy (this comes as no surprise being an avid reader from childhood). Managing to turn pain into purpose in your latest novel, 'From Section 8 to C.E.O', and bringing forth great courage, determination, strength and love in ‘30 Days: Surviving the Trauma and Unexpected Loss of a Single Parent as an Only Child,' a few things we learnt is that you should always:
1) Be authentic about the pain you experience,
2) Love and appreciate those closest to you, and
3) Follow your intuition.
What has been your biggest teacher so far?
Gray: The biggest thing I have learned through my experience that I chronicled in my book is that you don’t have to let the memories of your loved ones die with them. I didn’t write my memoir because I had some dream of being an author, I wrote my memoir because my mother always wanted to be a published author, but didn’t. So I went the rest of the way for her. It is important for me to continue to honour my mother’s legacy and in doing so the connection between my mum and I doesn’t seem quite as severed or distant.
TDM: And how about Flights In Stilettos? What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learnt to date?
Gray: I’ve learned that with a business called FlightsInStilettos that I needed to be very clear in my messaging. I learned early on that women assumed that if they didn’t wear stilettos that they couldn’t support the brand. That’s completely untrue!
I realised that I needed to be clear that I don’t dictate what a person’s individual travel style should be, I provide inspiration and it’s up to the individual to determine how they put their best selves forward when travelling and what that looks like.
TDM: Our favourite accessory is the ‘glam girl beach towel’ for the design and the
environmentally friendly microfiber, not forgetting the travel case for its glamour. Who
doesn’t love an individualised travel style? You collaborated with Illustrator/Graphic
Designer Chyarii. What was the creation process like?
Gray: This process was incredibly easy. I would conceptualise a theme for the towel and
communicate that theme to her. She would then use her skills and expertise to create the
artwork for the towel. For 2020 I wanted to create an inclusive towel – which I have named
“Shades of Beauty”. I wanted to create a towel that women of different races would see themselves in and potentially love.
TDM: Recently seeing you support Nicki Minaj’s Mother, Carol Maraj (@theofficialcarolmaraj), for the survivors of domestic violence Christmas event was so inspiring. Discussing various topics related to women empowerment, strategies to help get past old emotional wounds is beneficial for not only women but for men too.
How do you wish to inspire more people around the world?
Gray: I would love to inspire people around the world with the message that change must first start with a choice.
"I was not always on the path that I’m on now,
but one day I made a choice how I would live my life and what I wanted in my life – and once I made those choices, everything thereafter became a goal."
And one by one I began to accomplish my goals- but it first started with making up my mind and choosing to do something different that would produce different results.
TDM: With the success of FlightsInStilettos already surpassing your wildest dreams, What’s next? Where do you envision yourself and FlightsInStilettos three years from now?
Gray: In three years from now, I would LOVE to see my beach towels sold in hotel/resort gift shops and in airports around the world. I would also love to see other celebrities/influencers with my beach towels touting them as a “must-have” travel essential.
TDM: How would you advise women around the world to help them become unstoppable
today and take a leap so they can also step into their greatness?
Gray: The first thing that you must do is truly believe that you are great. It sounds corny, but it’s the truth. Belief triggers action, action triggers results.
TDM: Action sure does trigger results! And how can the readers follow your journey and connect further with you?
Gray: Thank you for asking, you can find me on the following platforms:
You can purchase your copy of 'From Section 8 to C.E.O' here.
You can keep up-to-date with FlightsInStilettos at the official website Flights In Stilettos.
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