We had the good fortune of connecting with Kassandra M. Shakes and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Kassandra, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
The thought behind the birth of my own business came ironically after birthing my last baby in 2019. Though a parent of 4, nothing about my last child was the similar to the others. My mindset was different, my intentions were different, its as if this journey was new and never walked before and it just brought a newness to my life that I didn’t know I needed. I’ve always desired to create something like I have now but never did I think of actually owning it as well.  So as I dreamt this up, my thought was, how can I make an impact on the lives of those that surround me, as well as those I may never see but I know need the reminder that this company intends to deliver. I wanted for people to birth a new mindset just as I did, have new intentions for their lives, and tap into every part of their identity that is often suffocated by societal “norms” as to who they are often dependent upon where they are or are not in life. My birthing journey awoken in me the endless possibilities of who I’ve always been, born to be, who I’m striving to be and who I currently am and I wanted the same for others but without having to endure the pain of childbearing LOL.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
What can I say, raised as an only child my creativity was off the walls to say the least. With no-one but myself, I’ve always had to create another world to get lost in, to become who I felt I wasn’t or couldn’t be in this world. At a very young age I lived to tell stories, I wrote about various characters I wish were my friends, characters that I thought my siblings, had I had any, would be like. I was always thinking, dreaming, and believing in the endless possibilities that awaited me outside of my little mind.

As I got older, I continued to dream but not as boldly and fearlessly as I once did; little by little my creativity was stifled by the influences and unsolicited opinions of others. Though the lights within were dimmed due to circumstances of a bruised heart and mind, the flames never burned out completely and for that I’m grateful. I’m happy that I never stopped dreaming, even if it was silently. I’m happy that my heart and mind kept connecting with my soul and creating the things I needed to experience internally. And one of those things were my business. By profession (Dental Hygienist) I have no background in running a business or seeking entrepreneurship but funny enough what I chose to do professionally ties in so beautifully to what I put out in my business. How so, well I was never supposed to be accepted to my alma mater once, let alone a 2x graduate of it. As I attended a trade high school, I fell in love with the dental profession and sought out to pursue a career in it upon graduation, however, my teacher at the time told me to not bother. She insisted that the school which I am now a graduate of and she happened to be an alma mater of, would never accept me. She made sure I knew that knew I wasn’t cut out for their rigorous program and quiet frankly I didn’t fit their scholarly mold. That was a low point of my journey, one that kept me living beneath my purpose for far too long. As life continued to pass me by I felt hopeless, her words pierced my thoughts so much so I couldn’t see past her words. Years later it clicked, words matter, not so much what others think of me, but its what I think of me, what I choose to believe of myself that truly mattered. I had to let go of the negative and embrace the true positive aspect of me. Reaffirm the hurt little girl within and live knowing that my identity comes from who I am rather than who others think I am.

My brand is about affirming yourself, reclaiming your true identity, reshaping your thoughts, removing negative thinking about oneself and believing that The Creator (God) made no mistake in creating you and every beautiful aspect of you identity should be affirmed. Through my brand “IAM” encourages every consumer to think positive even when others have tried to alter your thoughts, to wear positive; I’ve been told I wear my heart on my sleeve, well I challenge my consumers to wear their affirmations on their chest, even when you can’t feel, believe, or subscribe to it yet, claim it till you can authentically live it. Hence why our moto is Think, Wear, Be Positive!

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Any friend of mine would know my idea of a good time is time spent together indoors; I’m a homebody. However, growing up in Boston it’s hard to not appreciate the beauty of the city and various locations to live it up in. I love to eat good “bad” food, otherwise known as comfort foods/ junk foods to others. So if I had to leave the comfort of my home to be with those I love, I’d go out to eat some comforting food in a place that feels like home. I can think of many but one sticks out more than others because I guess when I go to this quiet spot in the small city of Chelsea, the atmosphere reminds me of dreaming beyond the space you’re in, Ciao Pizza and Pasta is placed in a corner of a busy city that is often overlooked or under appreciated however the owner was able to dream wildly enough to create a space that allows his consumers to enjoy good comforting food while taking in what I believe is a staple city of Massachusetts. I think Ciao’s is worth the trip, for the food and the experience.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
To dedicate or shoutout one person seems far too difficult; it took several individuals to get us to this place. My husband, our children, a band of sisters that, though not from the same womb, loved and nursed my crazy idea into reality, this little baby project needed a village to raise it from being just a thought to becoming what I believe is a game changer in how people will choose to adapt a positive mindset about themselves daily. Thank you to my village, you know who you are and I will never forget how instrumental you were in this journey.

Website: https://www.theiamapparel.com/
Instagram: TheIAMApparel
Facebook: TheIAMApparel

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutMiami is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.