Kesha McLeod Is The Stylist Dressing The Dudes of Your Dreams
Kesha McLeod is the bad ass chick behind Serena Williams and some of your favorite male athletes’ wardrobes. Fueled by her passion for fashion, the style maven has made a name for herself by utilizing her creative ability to bring out the unique style and elegance of each of her clients.
The Queens native found her true calling at the age of 19, when she left her job as a telemarketer and took a position working in a showroom at H&M. In our exclusive interview with Kesha, she dishes on falling in love with fashion, finding her personal style and much more!
What made you fall in love with fashion?
Fashion has always been a thing of mine since I can remember. My parents were very stylish and a lot of love comes from that. My dad always shopped at Bally and my mom was always in her furs and it became one of my favorite things to dress up in. They always had a good mixture between high and low fashion apparel and accessories. I wish I still had some of my dad’s hats now. Growing up I went to private school, where we wore uniforms, so ‘dress down’ days were everything for me and something I looked forward to. It gave me a chance to show off my personality. I would throw everything on and mix and match and just be fly for that day. It was awesome.
How did you find your personal style?
Not following trends, that was always important for me. My style is really a true reflection of my personality. My style is who i am, it’s not really a set style. It reflects my mood, my confidence, and however I’m feeling that specific day. No matter what I’m wearing it always encompasses my whole being. Its how I dress my clients as well.
How did you become a celebrity stylist?
I went to fashion school and then landed an internship with a big fashion company. It was a styling agency who’s client roster included Rihanna, Chris Brown, Lebron James, Rick Ross and Neyo.
A stylist from there started her own junior styling agency where I ended up working for some time. My big break came when Neyo recruited me to work with him overseas and was tasked with choosing the wardrobe for his entire tour.
What advice do you have for young women looking to join the fashion industry?
Never sell yourself short. That is so key. Strive for what you want. Do the work, be diligent and responsible. Conduct yourself in a way where there’s no doubt that they need to respect you and your craft. I come from Queens, NY with no background in sewing, my parents didn’t know anyone, I didn’t have an “in” anywhere. I did the work and always made sure I listened and learned from everyone I would come in contact with. You’d be surprised at how much you can learn from the most unsuspecting people.
I just recently started a workshop with a colleague of mine who has been styling for years as well. We will be sharing our love and most importantly our knowledge of fashion and the industry with aspiring stylists. They will get to ask us any questions and get to know what exactly goes on behind the scenes of our everyday. You can check us out at @styleroomws on all social media platforms.
Who are some celebrity clientele you’ve had and whose style is most similar to yours?
Some past and current clients include Neyo, Rick Ross, Serge Ibaka, Serena Williams, Young Jeezy, Chris Paul, James Harden, Pink, Chris Bosh. I’d say Chris Bosh’s style is more like mine. I know it’s kinda weird to compare my style to a mans, but he really loves the rocker chic, fitted, chill look. He gets “it” and understands style. He likes to step out of the box without looking like the same person. He likes to dress up and down.
How did you become Serena Williams stylist and what was your favorite outfit you created for her?
Years ago a stylist I worked with couldn’t work with Serena at the time because of some scheduled obligations, so she asked me to step in. Now here I am, a junior stylist working with a huge tennis champion, I was so nervous, scared and intimidated, but I did it. You have to always be ready to step up to the plate. We realized we had a mutual friend, Vernon Davis, and just developed a great rapport. We started with a great working relationship that has turned into a really nice friendship.
Serena’s look for her recent documentary featured in Vogue magazine is one of my favorite looks. Whenever she exudes her greatness and shines it’s always a great moment. Def a top moment of 2016.
What are your favorite items in your personal wardrobe?
My black patent leather Dior boots, hot pink Versace for H&M men’s suit– it’s something spectacular really, you have to see it on to understand. My Rihanna Fenty sweatpants, which I just received and are the most comfortable and stylish pieces for the sports luxe look. I have these two Saint Laurent hats– there was a point where they were all I wore. Black long cashmere Rochambeau sweater that Josh and Laurence gave me as a gift and they are actually being nominated this year for the CFDA awards, you definitely have to check them out. The sweater is one of my favorite pieces, like ever.
What are your favorite high end and low end designers?
High end: Alexander Wang, Dior, Loewe, Celine.
Low end: Zara, Miss Selfridge, Asos. Theoutnet.com is my favorite site to shop.
Where’s your favorite place to travel and shop?
Glasgow, Scotland. Wow, they have some really amazing shops and I think I’ve been there about six times. The city is amazing, beautiful actually. One of my favorite places in the world. You can’t of course forget NYC.
Where do you draw fashion inspiration from?
Reading! Reading! Reading! I research everything and anything from old books, photographs, magazines, to musical styles, etc. Its amazing all the information that is archived. It’s important to become versed in as much as possible. I like putting together my own trends. My imagination just goes and I literally get consumed into this creative state where I just envision what I want for my clients and how I want looks to fall together.
What was the hardest part about being a new stylist?
Being seen amongst the greats, putting your foot down without coming off too harsh, demanding respect, building the confidence level to get to ‘that’ point is another struggle that a lot of people deal with. You always have to remember that you are your own competition. Hit that pavement and do the work…in heels or some dope kicks of course!
Where would you like to see yourself in the next few years?
Teaching is something I’m looking forwards to, its one of the main reasons I wanted to put together the workshop. I want to help encourage aspiring stylists, guide them, everyone needs some hand holding every now and then. I love to talk, so speaking engagements and panels are on my agenda! I just really want to work on expanding my business and brand and just keep working towards becoming a master at my craft.
Do you plan on staying a celebrity stylist or would you style everyday people as well?
I want to style anyone who really understands the importance fashion plays in their everyday and their line of work. I have styled heads of hedge funds to CEO’s to chefs and politicians. I’ve worked with many clients who just want their executive looks for the week, month, or for that very important conference they will be the keynote speaker of. All my clients are celebrities if they’re paying for a service, especially my service. My clients mean the world to me and I try to treat each one as such.
What do you want your supporters to take from this interview?
I want them to know that no matter where you are from you can always make a way and make a name for yourself. A name that you can be proud of. I want them to know that no matter how hard it gets, always remain grace under fire. Your clients will appreciate a level head in the midst of chaos. I want them to know that though it seems like its all fun and games and of course, fashion, it really is hard work and a lot of running! Most importantly, I want them to understand that you should never stop learning or growing.