Many residents of St. Joseph would probably recognize the name Kay Klay, the flamboyant business owner of his own custom clothing store in the East Hills Mall.
Kay Klay also falls under the category of being a black business owner, a title which he takes much pride in and one he says wouldn’t be possible without the sacrifices of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“If it wasn’t for him, myself — as well as other business owners — wouldn’t have the opportunity that we have,” Klay said.
Klay believes that while more black business owners are making their way onto the scene, he doesn’t see the color, but the human beings pursuing their dreams.
“More and more are popping up every day and I’m so glad to see it, but I don’t view them as that. I just view them as young entrepreneurs getting out there and getting it. We all bleed red or blue or whatever it comes out when the oxygen hits it and that’s what I see,” Klay said.
Kay Klay has been in business for 8 years. He has been a one-man operation at his store and he’s made custom clothing for businesses such as Goetz Credit Union, Select Painting, All-In Lawn Care, In & Out Lawn care, Jared Enterprises and Bearded Customs. He’s also no stranger to the grind. He can remember the one day he spent posting flyers of his business on as many poles as he could along the belt highway. He said that’s part of his marketing plan which is to simply be willing to embarrass oneself.
“You gotta be willing to hold your own sign,” Klay said. “You gotta be willing to market yourself in a way where a lot of people would be like ‘That’s stupid.’ But, you see me now.”
Klay is consistently thankful for the compassion and helpfulness of Craig Realty Group which has allowed him to keep his spot in the mall for the past several years and of course during the pandemic. Financial hardships due to the pandemic are something even Kay Klay couldn’t elude, but he knows what his plan is when things pick back up: helping people.
“That’s truly really what I want to do. This coming year, I want to help with, obviously, the back to school and getting kids school supplies. I also want to help with the homeless too, as well, because I understand some of the struggles they go through,” Klay said.