StylingSeries: Kai Avent-deLeon

Kai Avent-deLeon – owner & creative director of Sincerely Tommy – discusses her love for the color yellow, the importance of community, and the ways she is walking to her own expressive beat.
StylingSeries: Kai Avent-deLeon

How would you describe your personal style? 

My style is very comfortable. I always go for comfort over everything else. I look for timeless, classic pieces that I'll wear over and over again. I’m a high-waisted Levi's, silk tank top type of girl – with Birkenstocks in almost every color. I'm running around a lot when I'm in the city. And when I'm not in the city, I'm usually in nature. So I like to be easy. 

KAI WEARS THE BALC IN MOSS

Will you tell us a little bit more about Sincerely Tommy?

Sincerely Tommy is a lifestyle concept store. I’ve been open for six years and it’s been amazing. In the front  of the space, there is a cafe. In the back, there’s a retail store where we carry emerging designers and ready-to-wear clothing – both local and from around the world. 

The cafe serves as a community hub. People come to hang out and work. We do a lot of events, always focused on community, covering a plethora of topics. It’s become a space for young creatives in the neighborhood, or visitors looking to explore. 

KAI WEARS THE BALC IN MOSS

What has this year taught you about the importance of community? 

I'm pretty unaffected by global energies or global shifts. I feel very grounded most of the time. When all of this happened, I didn't feel like I was changing much of my life. I already enjoyed being home with my son, taking space for myself. If  anything, it was just a good reminder to continue doing what I’m doing. 

I have noticed, on a larger scale, people are coming together in new ways, bridging relationships, merging into more of a communal sense of living and sharing. There are all these community fridges popping up in my neighborhood. We have one at the store where people can take free groceries. People are restocking them. There is an awakened sense that the way we were living as a whole wasn’t working. It wasn’t sustainable. It gives me a certain level of optimism to witness that shift taking place. 

KAI WEARS THE BALC IN CITRINE AND THE HIGHWAIST IN CITRINE

How has this year shaped the way you think about your role in the fashion industry? 

I always answer that question lightly, because I have never considered myself to be part of the fashion industry for many reasons. As a Black woman, knowing what the industry stands for has always stood out to me. I always go back to the Malcom X quote, ‘I never want to belong to a club that wouldn’t want me as a member.’ 

So, I say that I’m a creative and one of my outlets is expressing myself through style, versus being part of the fashion industry and following its standards. This year has just highlighted that sentiment for me. I’ve watched so many people pivot, after following those standards for so long. I’ve been able to navigate a lot of this with ease, because I’ve always done what feels natural when it comes to the store, our products, our practices. For me, it’s about continuing to do what feels good. 

KAI WEARS THE BALC IN CITRINE AND THE HIGHWAIST IN CITRINE

What makes yellow your favorite color? 

So many stories. Yellow represents Oshun, which is one of my guides, she is originally from the Yoruba people and she represents femininity, strength, she's a warrior, and yellow is her color. She's always dressed in yellow, usually by the water dancing.  

I have so many connections to the color yellow. It is the name of my favorite poem. The desert is my favorite place to be – specifically Utah – and something yellow has always happened there, whether it’s connecting to yellow plants or seeing some yellow aura. It’s always there. 

KAI WEARS THE PLUNGE IN INK AND THE THONG IN INK

What does sensuality mean to you and how does it influence your style?

Sensuality is everything. I'm an extremely sensual person. It’s part of my everyday movement. I have always really loved my body and maintained a good relationship with it, but I’m also relearning that relationship now that I’ve had a child and seen what it’s capable of. I’m learning to embrace the ways my body has shifted and changed. I’m learning to give it tenderness. That’s all part of sensuality. It’s about treating this sanctuary, this home, with a lot of grace and love. 

KAI WEARS THE PLUNGE IN INK AND THE THONG IN INK

How did you style your CUUP with these looks? 

All of these pieces are basics I will probably have forever. They go with everything. I love a good pair of high waisted pants. I'm super slim, so I try to accentuate the non-curves that I have. This slip dress is from John Patrick organics and has been a favorite for a long time.

I’m someone who hasn’t always worn bras, so finding a bra that is comfortable, flattering and sexy, while still being elegant, is everything. The first layer is so important. Whether I’m showing off a leopard print bra with a low-cut dress, or looking for support as a new mom who just finished nursing, a good first layer gives you the confidence you need for the day, without taking away the feeling of unrestricted freedom. 



What lessons in expression are you passing along to your son? 

Be yourself. Do what you feel called to do. In this journey together, I often refer to myself as his guide versus his mother, because I'm just such an advocate of guiding children to explore who they are, versus having this sense of ownership just because I gave birth to him. I feel like he chose me versus I chose him. 

I want to raise a tribe of independent thinkers and set a foundation for them. Hopefully, they can see what I’ve done in my life and feel empowered and inspired to walk to their own beat; to do their own thing. 



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