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Kelechi "Kay Kay" Uchendu

Local resident, Kelechi "Kay Kay" Uchendu, was recently named Wylie E. Groves High School’s Honor Alumnus for 2023 by the high school’s Senior Seminar Committee. The 2010 graduate was chosen for her personal and professional accomplishments, which have created an incredibly interesting life journey so far.

Uchendu was born in the United States to Nigerian-born parents and grew up attending Birmingham Public Schools. She was raised in a large family with four siblings and two older half-siblings.

The Honor Alumnus has an impressive educational background. She graduated from Michigan State University in three years with a BA in political science pre-law, specializing in environmental studies. She then graduated from Vermont Law School with her JD in 2016, and LLM in 2018. Uchendu also earned a master's degree in Business of Fashion from LIM College.

While obtaining her education, Uchendu was able to travel to every continent, including Antarctica, before the age of 22. Many of her amazing travel experiences – which also included visits to Nigeria, Ireland, France, Australia, China, and Patagonia –were through study abroad programs.

“I’m so thankful and blessed for all the opportunities in my life,” she says.

While Uchendu is not currently utilizing her law degree in a traditional way, she draws on her legal knowledge in her other business pursuits. She affirms, “My law degree still serves me to this day.”

In 2016, the multi-talented achiever was working for an online fashion news company when she was motivated to recreate a stunning dress she envisioned in a dream. The process of having the dress made inspired her to further pursue a career in the fashion industry. The following year, she registered her business, Kay Kay’s World LLC, which includes her fashion brand, Kay Kay’s Fashion. By 2020, she was under contract to bring her statement hair accessories made with sustainable, organic fabrics to

“I started with hair accessories because I love hair accessories,” Uchendu explains. “It really started in high school – I loved to match my headbands to my outfits.”

Since the launch of her business, Kay Kay’s Fashion designs have been featured in British Vogue and other media outlets. Her bold and colorful hair scrunchies, headbands, and chokers, made in special fabrics and patterns, are available on her own website.

“My products are designed for all hair styles and backgrounds. The silk fabrics work especially well for coarse, curly hair...The Amandla pattern on my website is sewn with authentic Mali fabric,” she explains.

Based on the success of her current offerings, Uchendu has plans to expand her business to include other accessories and related products.

In addition to her fashion brand, Uchendu is the author of Bully Friends, a short, interactive, non-fiction book about bullying in friendships that is based on her personal childhood experience. “Bully Friends,” she explains, are false friendships in which someone pretends to be your friend, while using their power to bully you. According to Uchendu, the book deals with “bullying, the danger of bullying friends, and the process of healing from such friendships.”

Bully Friends was published in 2020, and is available in several Michigan libraries (including the Groves High School Media Center), as well as several independent bookstores and Amazon.

Uchendu says, “I’m open to doing talks at schools or libraries to spread the message and help students form healthy relationships...I’d love to turn the book into a movie to expand its reach.”

Story: Tracy Donohue

Photo: Laurie Tennent

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