Kenzie Byrke is the business brain behind BRÛLÉ, an elevated approach to timeless basics with a focus on quality pieces.
Always known as a dauntless creator, she moved to Los Angeles when she was 18, working fastidiously as a retail associate and styling assistant while working many other jobs simultaneously to make ends meet. She then grew a love for wellness and used her entrepreneurial energy to create a few ventures in that industry. Her name caught wind in the wellness world and grew into a powerful online platform. But, despite her success within that industry, she felt compelled to expand and use her gusto to launch one of her lifelong passions, a clothing line. BRÛLÉ is a result of a culmination of years, manifestation, and hard work.
As the designer of BRÛLÉ, Kenzie aspires to evoke a timeless aesthetic into every article of clothing she designs, adhering to “quality over quantity”. Inspired by the rugged allure of the California coastline, Kenzie’s line of timeless basics and sexy separates mirrors the landscape – where unbridled natural beauty is tempered by stately design. Each collection is a time capsule, drawing on inspiration, art, and elevated spirituality to imbue each piece with undeniable energy. All BRÛLÉ pieces are made in the USA – produced locally in Los Angeles. BRÛLÉ places the quality and longevity of their clothing above all else. The result is a style that is, at once, as undone as it is refined.
What do the first 30 minutes of your day look like, your morning routine?
I am a very routined person. How you start your day sets up the success for the day ahead. First, I drink water, make my bed, and then sit on my meditation cushion while doing an 11-minute Wim Hof Breathwork meditation. I ice roll my face, dry brush my body, and jump in a freezing cold shower.
I never want to get into that shower, but ice-cold water is a powerful stimulant that gives me an insane energy boost and zaps any racing thoughts and ‘high’ cortisol right out of me. Jumping in cold water is a short-lived discomfort that trains your mental resilience. I get ready for the day, make breakfast, have a coffee, and check in with work – e-mails, social media, etc. Off to Pilates, and my workday officially begins!
What are your daily non-negotiable wellness rituals?
I put caring for my body and wellness at the top of my daily list. It is my number one priority. And that plays a massive role in being able to create the life I am creating for myself. My non-negotiables would be, first and foremost: Food. I eat well and am mindful of what I eat andhowIeatit.Foodisakey that we can easily use to uplevel the quality of our lives (and bodies). Beyond food, I meditate/breathwork daily, move my body, and train my mind to strengthen and grow daily. I love cold showers, the sauna, good sleep, and the list goes on. My entire life is made up of rituals that support my mind, body, and life to be at its most abundant state and flourish.
How has meditation changed your life and was it a key aspect of bringing BRÛLÉ to life?
I committed to doing a Dr. Joe Dispenza meditation (where you visualize, feel, and embody your future self) every morning for six months straight without skipping one day. This played a key role in bringing BRÛLÉ to life. We all have our own limited ceilings, fears, and doubts. And I had to move through my own blocks to create this business. So, these meditations helped me immensely. I love using meditation as a tool to empower myself in any area of life I need it the most. While creating BRÛLÉ I needed to teach my- self to believe that I could create a new reality. And I did.
Did you always know you wanted to launch a brand and how did you define the DNA?
I am a dreamer and a schemer. I always have been. I have to slow my own roll because if I had it my way, I would ride out every idea that comes to mind… and there is simply not enough time for me to keep up with myself! That said, I never sat down and defined the DNA of BRÛLÉ. It has naturally been un- folding, and the DNA is beginning to speak for itself. Creating BRÛLÉ has been simple – clothing based off what I have personally have looked to find in a brand. Over the years, I searched for timeless, quality, comfortable, classy clothing. I like to dress simply yet refined, and I love to make a statement. When I get dressed, I want to feel sexy and comfortable in my own skin. I look for clothing that has a mix of masculine and feminine silhouettes. Unfortunately, I was never satisfied with what I found… When I design for BRÛLÉ I design based on my desires that have not been fulfilled. However, when I find an article of clothing I love, I wear it on repeat. Therefore, I infused BRÛLÉ to embody the ability to wear these timeless basics repeatedly in many different ways. And, as far as the branding and presentation – I love a good branding moment. I brand everything. It is my favourite part when it comes to creating and running a business. The brand’s energy is what people will buy into, and it is essential that the branding is on the money. For BRÛLÉ, I went with simple, black and white, timeless. I want to ensure this brand never goes out of style, so I did not go too crazy with the branding. Instead, I went for classy. With the ability for the brand to evolve into anything it wants to grow into.
Why BRÛLÉ – what does this name mean for you?
The name BRÛLÉ stems from its definitional association with fire. So, when I saw the definition ‘life after a fire’, I knew that my next business would be BRÛLÉ. From a very young age, a theme in my life has been the phoenix rising from the ashes. I have been on the path of constant evolution, but until recently, I would burn the past (jobs, businesses, places, people, things) and thrust myself into a re-birth to the point where it started to feel unhealthy. This theme was on repeat in a way that no longer felt like it was serving me or the life I wanted to create. I wanted a foundation. Therefore, I declared that BRÛLÉ was going to be my foundation. In this one in the long run. BRÛLÉ is my new life after a series of many fires.
How did your previous roles support you being able to launch your own brand and how did you know it was the right time?
I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I am big on the ‘compound effect’, which means that what is present in your life today will grow into tomorrow, which turns into the next month, next year, and five years from now. I have been financially supporting myself from the age of 12 and solely relying on income from my own businesses for four years. I have a natural hustle within me. It has not always been sunny skies and butterflies. I have made many mistakes, especially when it comes to being an entrepreneur. My first rodeo at running a business was wild. I made a tonne of money very fast and burned through it even faster. I hired too many people, started too many projects with no plan, and made choices that could have been smarter. I learned the hard way, but it gave me the knowledge and baseline to do what I am doing now. So, I am forever grateful for the lessons I have learned and the experiences I threw myself into so that I could learn.
How did I know it was the right time to birth BRÛLÉ?
It was after I took time and space to reflect on the storm of my last business. I faced myself and had to learn to love myself for who I was and not what I was doing. It looked a little like this: First, I had to surrender to loving myself for who I was and not put my worth into what I was doing or the money I was or was not making. Then, I had to become clear on my desire to create a foundation that would unlock the life I have dreamed of. Finally, I promised myself I would be in this one for the long-term win; then, it was time.
How challenging was refining the manufacturing process and ensuring consistency in fit and fabrication?
The most challenging part was beginning the entire process for the first collection. Breaking into any new industry is never easy, and it felt like a guessing game when it came to picking how I would manufacture, where I would do it, and who would assist me in making sure I did it right. It was and is very simple for fit and fabrication as I go into each design, knowing exactly what I want. I only make something if it’s a piece that I am clear on. I know the type of fit, quality, and fabric I want for each style. If I don’t know, I don’t make it yet. Everything is simple when you are clear.
Where do you produce your pieces and how have you had to adapt as the brand has scaled?
Currently, we produce locally here in Los Angeles. For the foreseeable future, we will be here.
How do you balance the creative and commercial sides of the business, and do you feel more drawn to one than the other?
Balance? Sounds nice… hah. I would love to get there. BRÛLÉ launched five months ago – I am knee-deep in the start-up phase. Right now, I do everything. I don’t love the commercial side of the business and am grateful that I have been forming a co-founding partnership and creating companies and ventures with my best friend, Cibelle Levi. I bring this up because Cibelle and I have different strengths, and we balance the different roles it takes. It makes a world of difference. I love the creativity. I could go one million miles an hour if I were solely creative. The commercial side definitely slows my roll because I am not *in love* with it. I expect to put the work in every area I need to un- til we get big enough to scale and I can hire where my weaknesses are. For now, it’s good to learn everything, so I know the business like the back of my hand.
How many people are in your team now and did you start out alone?
My best friend and business partner (we are co-hosts of a podcast, co-founders of another brand launching later this spring and forming what our long-term roles will be with BRÛLÉ) is the only person on the team right now. I started alone, I have done everything alone until recently when Cibelle and I have decided to form a partnership. We go at it. We are hustling right now. Everyday feels like a hustle. As mentioned, the start-up phase. This is what it takes. I work from the moment I wake up until bed… weekends too. It’s not a long-term thing, I know. But, for now… this is where we are at.
What have been the biggest challenges to date and how did you overcome them?
The biggest challenge thus far has been learning how to scale a brand with no investors and having patience for the time it will take to get this brand to the level I want it to be at. I am very impatient and have to teach myself how to trust in the power of time. I have yet to overcome either of these challenges, but someday, I will!
How have you found social media in terms of supporting brand growth?
Yes. Social media (Instagram specifically) is everything for the brand right now. I am fortunate enough to have a larger social media platform and many friends who are of influence online. I don’t know how I would have started this without that. The goal is to enable the brand to flourish without relying heavily on social media… Someday, I would love brick-and-mortar and to be in other stores. Social media is where we are in the world now, and I don’t foresee how we would ever be able to not rely on it in some capacity.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I advise my younger self (and present-day self) not to be so hard on myself. I felt so much pressure to ‘figure it out’ that I put so much of my self-worth into what I had or hadn’t done. Or what my life did or didn’t look like. I have started not to be so serious about life. Letting life play out, bringing in more joy, not gripping so tightly, and opening to ʻreceiving’ doesn’t make me feel like the world’s weight is on my shoulders anymore. Opening up to partnership and letting go of feeling like I have to hold everything and do it on my own has brought much more lightness and joy into my life. Plus, I am having more fun. I would also advise trying all the flavours. Try as many things as your heart desires – as I have. But love yourself for trying it all. Don’t judge that it may ‘look’ messy.
This is The Style Issue – what does style mean to you?
Style plays a large part in the way you present and express yourself. Style – may it be what you wear, how you style your home, etc., plays a role in the energy surrounding your aura. It’s cool because we can choose our style. And that, to me, shows that we each have a choice. That choice is that we can each decide to be exactly who we want to be.
March’s – The Style Issue – Download Now
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