Khleo Armstrong x The Zeal Life

We got to sit and talk to Art Director Khleo Armstrong. Khleo is an entrepreneur based in Atlanta, Georgia; she runs her own fashion brand Hey Friday and has styled artists such as Erykah Badu, Lizzo and has even worked with fashion legend June Ambrose. Knowing Khleo is being inspired by Khleo. Get to know her in 25 Questions:

TZL: What is your story, tell us a little bit about your background?

Khleo: I grew up in a very free- spirited environment. My childhood let me explore my imagination in all ways. Being from LA and uprooted to Atlanta, I would say I have a widened view of looking at both cultures. These places have both molded me into the creative I am today. My family structure has always been supportive, I was always encouraged to do whatever I dreamt to become. If I wanted to be scientist I was put in programs, if I wanted to be a dancer I was put in classes; but my go- to was playing dress- up and taking photos, so I did just that. And now my childhood dress- up games turned to my real life goals.

TZL: Can you recall when you first became interested in fashion?

Khleo: My Nana (grandma) is the main source of my obsession with fashion and creating. I was encouraged by her to play dress up, and create looks. At 7, I was already knee deep in her wardrobe collecting looks to put together for all the shows I forced my cousin and neighborhood kids to partake in. Every other weekend I was heading to goodwill with her, learning how to pick key pieces. Let me say I’ve always dressed to the beat of my own drum, and was more than encouraged to stand out and be my own person. Then I remember coming to high school and seeing the yearbook superlatives for “Best Dressed” and only seniors were allowed this title so I convinced my mom to let me get a job to start buying clothes to work towards my senior year title. That was my first goal in my fashion journey. And I won.

TZL: You are the founder and designer at Hey Friday describe how you came up with the Hey Friday concept? 

Khleo: Hey Friday was simply an ode to the weekend, celebrating the start off to getting dressed and making plans with your friends. Over the years it has now changed to a platform based around building your confidence in your own lane on your own terms. I’m super excited about this next chapter, because its allowing me to show growth in areas I’ve always wanted to keep private.

TZL:Can you walk us through your design process? Where do you draw inspiration? When do you know the design is complete?

Khleo: My first steps always start with a mood board. What are the colors I’m drawn to? What fabrics do I want to feel or see?Then I go back to the basics of looking through magazines and photos, exploring  Pinterest and Tumblr. I look at old runway shows and music videos. Then my final step is traveling somewhere to people watch and study real streetwear through everyday people, that’s where I get truly inspired.

TZL: As a visual creator, in the age of social media how do you remain original?

Khleo: I think to truly stay original is to take breaks from social media. Give yourself some mental space to start fresh and cleanse your thoughts. Especially when you’re not inspired or start comparing yourself.

TZL: What have been some of the challenges you’ve faced during your time as an entrepreneur, what do you wish you knew when you started that you now know?

 Khleo: First and foremost, mental health is key, your environment controls the ways you move and think.  Then, patience will be the second thing you have to understand and master. Confidence in yourself is above anything else and will take you farther than you know. And learning how to handle money will be detrimental to your success. Something else I wish I knew was that you are your only competition, regardless of how saturated you feel your lane is in.

You are your only competition, regardless of how saturated you feel your lane is.

Khleo A.

TZL: How have you overcome those challenges?

 Khleo: I’ve learned to consciously practice working on my challenges day by day. Every time I wake up, I understand if I fail today, don’t fault myself, say fuck it and make it better for tomorrow. I understand as humans we are not perfect, nor are we meant to be. We will forever be working on ourselves, constantly growing and shifting. And most of all we learn most of our lessons through our failure, that’s how we evolve and get better.

TZL: What do you believe is your purpose as an entrepreneur?

Khleo: My sole purpose is to teach confidence on my own terms in my own lane. Show people how far they can go with just believing in themselves, as I stay transparent about how it’s not easy. And that’s okay too. 

TZL: Where do you see Hey Friday 10 years from now?

Khleo: Hey Friday will be a luxury streetwear brand with a platform to teach confidence on your own terms. I’m not teaching anyone to be like me, I’m advocating how amazing and fulfilling it is to be yourself. The brand apparel will be the cherry on top, but I’m here to spread a message.

TZL: You’ve worked with some incredible artists, Erykah Badu, Lil Durk, Lizzo, etc. who was the most impactful artist you’ve worked with? How were they impactful for you?

Khleo: No artist has fully impacted me yet, it’s different when the artist is your one true client, which I hope to build with one someday. Building one persons style through and through would teach me more than just being hired in a one off situation. I like to build meaningful connections. But my most impactful memory was getting to work with June Ambrose; seeing a black woman I’ve been inspired by for so long and working side by side with her, has fully shifted the way I move and think.

TZL: Can you name a time you were on set and learned a life lesson?

Khleo: One of my most memorable lessons on set was working on the Migos Scotty to Hotty video. There was so much happening. On set there you pulled in so many directions. You have to make sure the artists are at  100%, not keeping your eye off them. Then you have to make sure the 10 plus extras are prepped and ready to go. You’re in this constant state of movement, things are going at lightning speed for 14 hours. I remember in the moment of chaos being screamed at from a higher- up over something I personally felt should have been said in a different manner.

But of course not everything goes your way. That moment completely shut me down. My mood was shattered after this. I told myself “This is it, I’m done. I quit.”  I let one person’s bad moment turn into my bad moment. I let the loudness of his voice overshadow my capabilities. I [reflected] on this moment a few days later and [told] myself, “No you didn’t need to be talked to like that, but no one should be able to dictate your mood or make you shift everything you worked hard for.” Take it as a lesson in business to speak up for your self in a manner that doesn’t compromise your job. The energy you bring tells a lot about you, not the environment you work in.

Take it as a lesson in business to speak up for your self in a manner that doesn’t compromise your job. The energy you bring tells a lot about you, not the environment you work in.

TZL: Who are artists you would love to collaborate with in future? Why?

Khleo: Teyana Taylor- I love how she can show much more than just be an artist. Pharell- because I feel his mind is always ahead of its time. Those are some OG’s,  but I hope to work with a new developing artist to collaborate with in the future.

TZL: Who are your style inspirations?

Khleo: A few of mine are June Ambrose, Teyana Taylor, Aureta, Solange, Nadia Lee, Tracie Ellis Ross, Pharell, Travis Scott. Theres so many more but those are the top; that come to mind.

TZL: Name your top basics to putting together an outfit?

Khleo: A good jacket and lots of accessories.

TZL: What items can you not leave the house without?

Khleo: My earrings—always have to have a pair on, lipgloss, an extra pair of shoes in case I change my mind or get a last minute invite and my composition book because you never know when your ideas will hit.

TZL:Heels or sneakers?

Khleo: Both, that’s the art of a TomGirl.

TZL: Gold or silver?

Khleo: Very much gold, but I’ve acquired a taste to mix lately.

TZL: Bare face or beat?

Khleo: Bare face, just need lip gloss, moisturized face, and brushed out eyebrow…touch of bronzer here and there for a little effect.

TZL: Nike or Adidas?

Khleo: Nike for nostalgia, Adidas for innovation.

TZL: Pharell or Kanye?

Khleo: Pharell’s more my flavor based on colors and aesthetics. But I will never not think Kanye is a genius.

TZL: Prints or solid?

Khleo: My closet looks like someone threw up prints.

TZL:What’s your daily self- care routine?

Khleo: 1.Coffee is number one

2. Moisturize my face

3. Turn on a show or music for background noise

4. Read over my 6 month vision/goal board out loud, so I can manifest to the universe/Talk to The Most Hight

5.Jot Down Ideas in my composition book

TZL: What is the number one mistake you’ve see designers make when first starting off?

Khleo: Thinking that making a shirt with their name on it, is it. They don’t paint a story or give true depth about it. It’s just like here, buy my shirt with my name. People fall in love with people first, not the product. You have to let people have reason to believe in you.

TZL: What advice would you give to new entrepreneurs of all industries?

Khleo: Be patient. Believe in yourself and craft. Work on your mental health. Tell your Story. Repeat. I can’t stress that mental health shit enough.

TZL: Can you discuss upcoming projects, events or collaborations?

Khleo: I’m focused on changing the dynamic of HF and securing an artist this year. As well as just dropping whatever creative endeavor I see fit to show how this mind really works.

Featured Photos by : Rose Smith

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