“I think beauty is confidence. I think when someone is confident you just see their beauty as well. You see them and you can’t tell them anything, they’re self-assured and I just think that’s beautiful.” Promoting the beauty of life, and self-confidence whilst maintaining a level of alt luxury and self-care is the essential core of who we are at KEM. This being said, we recognise a tribe of people who show up for themselves daily by doing the above. We are always keen to converse with these people especially when they exude this essence in their respective lines of work.
To kick off our people section on The KEM Blog, we sat down in candid conversation with the knowledgeable and ultra-chic Kenny. Widely known as KVJ Facials: a phenomenal facialist with a studio in Essex and an extremely gorgeous edgy content creator on ‘the gram’. She discusses with KEM what it truly means to own your inner beauty, faith, and self-confidence with fierce determination, irrespective of the outside projections that often come to permeate our psyche. From her unique, modern and chic taste in fashion and interior design; to her restorative approach to skin, mixed in with her South London and Essex upbringing, she is the full embodiment of a KB babe: let’s sit down with Kehinde.
Spending the beginning of her formative years in South London where she was born and raised, Kenny also champions her strong ties to her native Nigerian roots. She recalls moving to Essex at age 11 which presented a polar existence for her, where the normalcy of her upbringing and experiences would now be mutually shared only by a minority in the place that was now her home. “In London it’s diverse but moving to Essex is my first recollection of when I realised that racism existed. All of the black people stuck together in a school where even the teachers were racist and I think that affected my education. (sic) Being in an environment where you know the teachers are already going to give up on you, whereas with the other children you can tell they really tried with them. I’m not naturally academic and consider myself to be more of a creative, but I remember they tried to tell me not to do my science GCSE’s and I said ‘No, I am doing it.’” This self-conviction and tenacity clearly seem to be innate to her; “ I was also quite confident when I was younger, I’ve always been the same and I’ve always had big dreams. I always dreamt of having a business and owning a company, I used to play games when I was younger when I was the boss or I was running a company, I would say I’ve always had big dreams.”
Those big dreams came to fruition with Kenny’s brand: KVJ Facials. We asked about her 9-5, the balance between the two and if being an esthetician is part of the long-term plan: “The plan is to do skincare full-time, but for now, I work in finance a few days a week. I do bookkeeping and general accounting for people which is good because I get to transfer those skills over to my own business. I always knew I would work for myself but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. About 4 or 5 years ago I saw a black lady doing skincare and I’ve always been into skincare. I thought to myself there isn’t much of this, so I said to my cousin let’s just go to beauty school and go and learn. And I’m grateful God put it in my heart and I took action and I did it because it’s changed my life.”
When asked about her favourite thing about working for herself Kenny answered “My favourite thing about my job is the clients, honestly, I’ve been blessed with the best clients they’re so so kind. And I think it helped me develop my people skills. When you’re working with people, a part of good customer service is having a chat and engaging with them and it’s helped me with my interaction. Like learning how to engage in small talk so that when I meet new people they don’t think that I’m boring or have no personality. And the most challenging thing must be that I overthink things because I want my clients to have the best experience.”
“I’m glad that there’s more black representation in the aesthetician space in the UK because ultimately we know our skin best. The products we find on the market aren’t really tailored to us. For example, with hyperpigmentation, it doesn’t present itself in the same way for black and white skin. I think it gives people an opportunity to learn about their skin and also when they go for procedures it makes more black people feel rest assured that their skin is in good hands.”
As a skincare brand, our experiences with our customers’ main concerns bore much resemblance with hers; “An issue I see most often is hyperpigmentation, if they have active spots, dull skin too. And Black people not needing SPF is the most frustrating skincare myth I’ve heard. We do! Even when I tell people they always ask interesting questions like what about people in Africa, they don’t use SPF but they always have amazing skin and when we’ve been back home we come back with glorious supple skin. I used to respond ‘well I don’t know still just use it!’ Then I learnt that SPF protects from environmental toxins etc. We have so much more toxins in the western world: coal burning, exhaust fumes and more. We really need to protect our skin in this environment and SPF is one of the best ways to do that. “Most of the people that come to see me don’t really know much about their skin. Sometimes it’s just about educating my clients when they come for a session.”
“One of my favourite skincare influencers is a guy called Lateef Saka. But to be honest I don’t always follow the skin influencers because sometimes it just makes you feel like you need to do too much. Not having the best skin can sometimes be your diet or your habits, changing your pillowcases, wiping your phone etc can help so much. Not all of the products you see on social media can necessarily remedy those issues.”
“I think beauty is confidence. I think when someone is confident you just see their beauty as well. You see them and you can’t tell them anything, they’re self-assured and I just think that’s beautiful.”
“My beauty inspirations are Rihanna, Ronny Rae and Melachild. Rih because I feel like she actually has features that I identify with. Even with Fenty and her bringing out so many different shades, being a dark-skinned woman, contour was non-existent for me because I just could never find my shade, but now I’m able to contour because her shades are so broad. I love Ronny Rae and Melachild – watching their channels inspires me because all the makeup products that I’ve brought are basically because I saw them on their channels first. What they use inspires me to use it too. I just let them try it first and when I love it I buy it.”
“I love lipgloss, I think it just shines! Even when I feel like my makeup Isn’t on par, the lipgloss just changes everything for me. Lipgloss and lip liner. I love Fenty Gloss Bomb and Maybelline lip glosses and liners.”
Share your best beauty tip with us:
“A tip I use is I like to do my liquids before powder, and also I make sure to use good skincare products before putting on my makeup. I used to think putting on a lot of product before my makeup will make my face oily but it actually doesn’t. It helps the makeup to stick. And also I’ve adopted the less is more approach to makeup, you don’t need to overdo it too much. Sometimes we can let things be natural”
And of course, we had to ask what her favourite Kem Beauty products were! To which she responded: “My favourite KB products are the lipglosses, I love Nude Taffy, the blush, that’s the only blush I use; and the Hydrating Toner”.
Kenny’s love for fashion and fine-tuned personal sense of style is also a huge part of her presence and brand on social media. She describes her style as “classy but with an edge, and a bit vintage. Oversized blazers are always a staple for my wardrobe and my fashion non-negotiables are gold hoops and boots. Especially this season. They always find a way to come back every year. Some fashion brands I love are Jacquemus, Attico and my favourite black-owned fashion brand is Kai Collective.”
“If I was a collector I would collect bags. Chanel bags, vintage bags- I love it. Also, they go up in value.”
Notes On Self-Care:
“I think reconnecting with myself is how I practise self-care. Feeling good, doing my hair, getting my nails done and my makeup makes me feel good. Telling myself that I love myself really helps with self-care. I feel loved spending time with friends and family, knowing the people I love are praying for me.
A good night for me is doing something spontaneous with my husband, going for drives and stuff. That’s it. That’s a good night out for me.”
Kenny’s outlook on life is refreshing, bold but light-hearted and progressive in a way that is wholly authentic to her. She is illuminating her path in the modern beauty sphere, one face, one outfit, and one client at a time. Kenny is holding space and we love this for her.
Here are our favourite takeaway quotes from our chat with Kenny:
“My faith helps me know I am nothing without God, that is just it. God is just everything to me. I feel like that’s where I get my confidence from, it’s God. If God tells me I can do anything no one can tell me anything. It is a major part of my life and my daily living.”
“This best advice I’ve been given was given to me at my wedding the pastor said’ Pray for the best and expect the best, you should never limit yourself.”
“I appreciate when people are themselves. I think there’s nothing better than being yourself. I think that we live in a world where people feel like they need to act a certain way or add to themselves for validation when that isn’t the case, just be yourself. I feel like when you are yourself you attract the right people.”