Photo by Ambiance Digital Photography
Kaya Rainey is a full-figured model, fashion consultant, and proprietor of Chicago-based The Kaya Kollection, an eyewear boutique. She has worked with some of the most influential fashion designers and largest fashion houses in the Chicagoland area, such as Culture’s Closet Boutique, Knotty Loop, Asil Nworb, Deztinni, Larkin Designs, and Harvey Star Washington.
From an early age, her mother knew she would enter the fashion world, so she nicknamed Kaya “Glamour Girl.” PrideIndex recently caught up with our girlfriend as she shared the teas on her plans to expand the TKK brand.
PrideIndex (PI): Introduce yourself and talk about your journey thus far.
Kaya Kollection (KK): Thank you. My name is Kaya. I am the owner of The Kaya Kollection, an online eyewear boutique I started about five years ago. I am based out of Chicago, IL, my eyewear is online, and it is assessable to everyone.
PI: So, when you say accessible to everyone, does that mean you have a menswear line, women’s wear, or are your products unisex?
KK: Yes to all of that. I have a unisex line, a men’s wear or masculine-centered line, and a women’s or feminine-presenting line. I also have children’s wear along with doggy eyewear.
PI: Did you not just say that you have eyewear for a pet?
KK: Yes, sir. I have eyewear for your paw-babies as well.
PI: What’s the backstory? How did you become interested in eyewear?
KK: The backstory is it fell in my lap. I came from the pageant world and wanted to specialize in pageant jewelry for women. I had a soft launch, and it went extremely well. I started researching other things I could bring to my line and stumbled on eyewear. I began to study the importance of eyewear, and more importantly, it took me back to my childhood. Eyewear was not trendy for individuals like me that had to wear glasses when I was younger. I used to hate my glasses, henceforth, why I can see today. Being able to provide affordable, stylish frames is something I pride myself on!
PI: How do you research and determine the hottest styles for your customers?
KK: I know what I like. I’m a trendy fashion individual. I typically look for differences, shapes, and colors. I pride myself on providing unique eyewear you won’t necessarily see anywhere else. I look for quality, especially with picking out new vendors. I look for colors and uniqueness that will show individuals’ characteristics via eyewear. So those are some of the attributes that I look at when I make a purchase.
PI: Is your eyewear prescription accessible for correcting vision, or is it just to make folks look pretty?
KK: Both. So, my eyewear, my clear lens frames are prescription lens friendly, which means you can take them to your eye doctor, and they will put your corrected lenses in those frames. I have stylish sunglasses that can be used for those purposes as well. Eyewear is the new accessory!
PI: You have a strong social media presence. Where else can we find your eyewear?
KK: I am located in two prestigious locations throughout Chicago. The Kollection can be found at Culture’s Closet Boutique (located in Beverly/Southside) and M.E Marketplace (located in Forest Park/ Westside) to meet all of my client’s needs!
PI: Are you a one-woman shop, or do you have employees or other people to help you in your business?
KK: I am a one-woman shop.
PI: Do you ever have plans to invest in or possibly open a brick-and-mortar store?
KK: Yes. I have been teetering with whether or not I want to stay online. I’m at the second stage of my business, where I need a space. Although I have my eyewear in different locations throughout the city, it’s time for The Kaya Kollection to have its own home. So, yes, I am actively looking for space.
PI: Are you also available for pop-up-type events? Let’s say I’m doing a county fair, a Food and Wine Festival. Are you available on demand?
KK: Yes. My schedule is filling up, and I thank God for that. I am available for vending anywhere. This past weekend, I had the opportunity to vent at Market by Macy’s at Evergreen Park, which was a great success.
PI: I’ll admit that I had a misconception about eyewear. I thought sunglass and specific products were only made to be worn during the summer. What do you have to say about that?
KK: No, that’s not true. Anytime the sun is out, you must protect your eyes from harmful UV rays. I recommend you always have a pair of shades for any occasion. Eyewear is not just fashion; it’s also protected for your eyes. It’s not just seasonal.
PI: Do you offer accessory products that go along with your eyewear?
KK: Yes, I do. We carry eyewear cleaning kits, custom eyewear cases, cleaning cloths, and eyewear jewelry accessories.
PI: Do you work with wholesalers? If, for example, I had a store in Seattle and came across your product and would like to bring it to my area. Are they accessible to me?
KK: Oh, yes, collaboration is never-ending. I offer wholesale pricing and boutique collaboration.
PI: What are your plans for expansion?
KK: Hum, my expansion plan is to collaborate more this year. I want to get into more stores and businesses throughout the city. I also want to reach into other cities. I plan to travel to events that are outside of Chicago. So yeah, those are just a few things I have on the horizon.
PI: What else would you like to share about your collection?
KK: Well, I want to be a one-stop shop for anybody that needs assistance. I also do styling. So, if you need of a stylist, The Kaya Kollection can assist you.
PI: If I were interested in your product, what should I do?
The Kaya Kollection is looking for brand ambassadors. If you are photogenic, please email your picture and let’s collaborate!