We had the good fortune of connecting with Destinee Graham and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Destinee, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
The concept for KIKI KREME started when my mother-in-law, who was born and raised in Jamaica, shared her family’s recipe for body butter. It had circulated the generations and I knew I could trust it. While expecting our son, I added my own twist to it and loved my creation! I offered it to friends, some who were also pregnant and they raved that it was better than anything in the store. I couldn’t make it fast enough. When people were willing to pay for it, my (brilliant) husband and mom encouraged me to make enough to sell. And I haven’t stopped since!
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Owning and running my own business has allowed me to know myself in a whole new way. I’ve seen myself grow right along with Kiki Kreme! Some days I appreciate all I’ve accomplished and say “I did that shit!”. Other days, I’m crying in a corner because I can’t figure out the Canva app. The great days make the rough days bearable.
Growing up I struggled in school. I had a speech impediment, ADD and later found out I was dyslexic (and don’t get me started on my haircut and braces!). Confidence in my abilities suffered. Anything that had to do with spelling or grammar would literally cripple me – if I let it. Now that I’m an adult I realize its actually my super power! Knowing how my brain works, where my weak spots are, it lets me delegate when needed and lean into the part of the business that are in my zone of genius.
My life and career has its twists like everyone else. I moved to NYC from my small Canadian town (London, Ontario) when I was 21 to peruse modelling. I found success doing stand-up comedy and then went back to school for a Broadcast Journalism degree. As random as it sounds, there are transferrable skills from those experiences that I use daily.
After having our son, it didn’t feel right going back to red carpets and the lifestyle that comes with working in Hollywood. My sole focus was, “What would Bryson would think of me as a mother? What do I want him to learn from me?” I was raised by a single Mother who worked her ass off at multiple jobs to care for my older sister and I. At 30, mom went back to university and paid her way thanks to a suddenly successful tie-dye business she started with a friend. Everyone was wearing MY moms clothing and it made me so proud because I watched what it took to make that dream happen. I wanted my son to have that same feeling about me and KIKI KREME.
Expectant Mothers put their trust and faith in Kiki Kreme and I take that responsibility very seriously. It’s literally my north star for making decisions. For example, potential investors have asked to add fillers and preservatives because the organic product melts during shipping. I refuse every time. Sure, their investment would help and but I wouldn’t feel comfortable recommending this to a new mother. The solution? We pack and ship Kiki Kreme on ice because it is literally food for your skin. I know my new mums appreciate that commitment, just like I would.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
My family and friends who visit are generally all coming from Canada, where I grew up. I always take them straight to the beach (no matter what time of year). We are always traveling with lots of kiddos, so Santa Monica Pier is typically one of the stops. There are so many thing to do from bike rentals, rides and just walking on the beach. You can’t get really good Mexican food in Canada, so I always go to Casa Vega in Studio City, it blows their mind every time. Then shopping at my favorite boutiques, Caro Bambino in Santa Monica, Shop Ever and Elfin in The Valley Country Market have the cutest stuff. Whenever possible I always take Mulholland drive.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
If you want to know who your friends are or who really loves you, start a business. My R&D focus groups, photographers, graphic designers and word-of-mouth marketers have been those closest to me. I’m not the type to self-promote so they have been crucial to our success so far.
The wonderful man I’m married to has never been a deterrent against my entrepreneurial dreams, and I know how rare that can be. Bryson and I are really lucky. Michael has helped turn our home into a Kiki Kreme factory complete with a 600lb mixer in the bathroom. Our pantry also serves as a supply/inventory warehouse and the garage, naturally it’s a shipping and international distribution centre. Some days are harder than others, like when I ask (tell) him to label jars while watching a basketball game, but he sees the potential for this product. I like to fantasize about buying him a flashy new sports car as he would have definitely earned it. But I’m calling ‘shotgun’!