Kenn Gray is larger than life in both personality and style. Unique is an understatement. He embraces the talent of being exactly who he is and tapping into what he loves: interior design, fashion, and art. Kenn (of Kenn Gray Home) www.kenngrayhome.com is incredibly resourceful with a natural talent for what works in color, style and aesthetic with an added edge. His passion to please his clients is both inspiring and admirable. I enjoyed when he spoke about listening to his client’s decorating needs and getting a touch sad once a project ends. Gray is living life to the fullest through his work, dedication to his family and affinity to take risks.
Kenn Gray is originally from Booneville, Mississippi. He left home at eighteen to attend Otis Parsons College of Art and Design in LA. He majored in fashion design but ended up working in interior design. He was smart enough to know making a room shine can translate to creating a fabulous outfit. He has managed to weave all of his creativity into one fabulous career. He has so many projects going on that I genuinely do not know how he does it. There is Kenn Gray Home, Gray is also the Art and Design Director of Style Fashion Week where he curates talented artists and designers, and he is managing the career of his beautiful son, Fynnton Gray, (aspiring actor and model). He also was recently recognized as Art Director for the indie film “Pearl,” an inspiring fashion film, directed by Brandon Jameson that recently premiered at The La Jolla International Film Festival. His son, Fynnton, had a role and the film won three awards. The Gray family are based in beautiful Palm Springs where they enjoy desert life to the fullest. So when he had a second to stop, I had the opportunity to catch up with him.
It is such a pleasure to speak with you! When did you become interested in interior design?
I became interested in interior design the moment I was born and saw the dreadful hospital green walls and fluorescent lighting. Seriously, it has always been in my blood and in my heart. I love making spaces sing with the unique qualities that make each of my clients different. I think this is a large part of my success, meaning, my clients always feel like their home ‘just happened’ and fell perfectly in line with their personal aesthetic and style.
Was interior design something that always came naturally to you?
I believe so. I was constantly redecorating our home growing up…coming up with projects and begging my dad to let me and my mom go totally overboard with our limitless creative spirit! The funny thing is, I went to Otis Parsons to college and studied Fashion Design. Knowing that I would not move into a career in fashion design, but loving the industry and to this day love having that expertise and knowledge. People often ask me how I created a successful career in Interior Design after spending so much time, money and effort to learn another craft at the most prestigious private art schools in the world. Well, first of all, my dad, after learning of my plans to NOT be a fashion designer, was a bit upset. Spending that enormous amount of money to go to college for something that I knew I was not going to make a career of…not happy. I understood my motives and now he does, but oh boy, that was a challenging period for me and my daddy. He has since realized my reasons for that approach to my education and wholeheartedly supported my endeavors along with my mom. I started my first LLC when I was 17 after a failed attempt to work at McDonald’s. We won’t go into it, but my employment there at 16-years-old was very short lived to the tune of 11 days. I knew then that I was supposed to work for me…to be an entrepreneur. Several wonderful businesses later Kenn Gray Home, my interior Design Firm was realized and now, almost 22 years later I cannot say enough about how my journey and the impact of all of my experiences have shaped me as a person as well as a designer.
I know you recently launched a fabulous new fabric line.
I am soooo excited to launch my new luxury hand painted fabric line, Kenn Gray Home for Sarah Strader Textiles! The one shown here is “The Octopus” and I could not be more thrilled for this collaboration. The new fabric line is a gorgeous mix of pops of color and fun and fanciful patterns such as feathers, octupus, and flowers. It is referenced from all that I love and the inspirations of what I see in my travels. This collection, in all of its custom abilities, is one of my most proud moments.
What was it like hosting ‘Travel Spies’? I was watching clips the other day and you have quite a bit of dialogue and did not miss a beat.
‘Travel Spies’ was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. How fun was it to get paid a lot of money to travel and have so many amazing experiences…all to be captured on camera. It was a hoot and of course, I played to my strengths of capturing every moment of hilarity I could find! The show premiered in 2005 which is the only unfortunate part, as social media had barely just started, so parlaying the show into other projects was not a clear and easy path. However, the show still airs in countries all over the world. I know where it is currently airing usually because I get emails from fans and sometimes videos of my voice having been dubbed into other languages. If you heard some of their attempts to find a voice over actor with a thick southern and slightly flamboyant accent you would be doubled over with laughter! Truly so funny!
Do you like to travel (not just for work), but you in general? I would imagine that you derive a lot of creative inspiration from that.
Travel is everything to me. Obviously being a TV host on the Travel Channel afforded me an enormous opportunity to travel but even outside of that I am always heading somewhere, and usually, even though it is work related, I make it into an inspirational experience. I love to live like the locals and explore each region as if I were going to move there…soaking up each and every morsel of culture along the way.
Tell me a bit about growing up in Mississippi? Did you always know that you wanted more?
Growing up in Mississippi was nothing less than a challenge, but one I wouldn’t trade for anything. I was a unique youngster and bullied severely but used my tip top personality to fight off the attacks. Using humor and spirit was my weapon, and it worked. It was a very different time then and I feel so much empathy for young people growing up in that world now with so many more pressures from social media, etc. To this day, one of the many efforts I support wholeheartedly is non-bullying initiatives and organizations like http://www.boo2bullying.org/. I would say the one thing it did for me that changed me for the better was that, for the lack of opportunity in the area, it prompted me to create my own opportunities…therefore molding me into the entrepreneur I am today.
Let’s talk style! You are the Art and Design Director of Style Fashion Week Global. How do you even begin coordinating that with lining up designers and artists, etc.?
Well, Style Fashion Week http://www.stylefashionweek.com/ is a real team effort and my main gig with the company is to curate the art and design marketplace in each market. I source out the best artists of all types in each region and create amazing gallery-like exhibitions that occur jointly within the fashion week events in NYC, LA, Palm Springs, Miami, and soon to be the Bahamas, Cuba, Asia, Europe, Mexico, The Hamptons, and the list goes on and on. What we are building is really a creative collaborative that no-one has ever seen, particularly at fashion week anywhere.
You are simply fearless with your style! Any hints on how to pull that off? No-fear is really the key word here. I LOVE fashion and have become known for my fearless approach to my own personal style. I love pushing the boundaries and walking red carpets in on-point, yet daring wardrobe choices. Nothing makes me happier!
How did you meet your wife Bunny Jo? She is so beautiful and seems so kind.
Thank you! I fully agree. After we wrapped filming of the TV show ‘Travel Spies’, I decided to be closer to my family who lives in Tennessee, so I sold my fab million-dollar loft in the Seaport of Boston, sold my art gallery businesses and moved to Kentucky which is about an hour and a half away (close to the parental units…but not too close), lol.
When I got to Paducah, Kentucky, all I wanted was to rest, relax and regroup and acclimate to my new home (which was very different from the rat race cities I had been living in for the past sixteen years). However, the universe had a much different plan for me. It wasn’t two seconds, seemingly, that I met my person…you know, the one you are ok with spending the rest of your life with? Bunny Jo…the most caring, loving, and obviously PATIENT woman on Earth. I absolutely never thought I would find this person or that one even existed, but, after a respectable year engagement, we got married. By the way, Bunny Jo is a woman, which a lot of people found to be surprising. Why? Well, I have always been an equal opportunity Lover and I had amazing relationships with both men and women throughout the years. Some lasted 15-20 minutes and the special ones lasted for years while I learned more and more about how to be in a successful relationship so that I would be exactly what Bunny Jo needed in a husband. BAM!
Then, if that wasn’t enough to turn Paducah inside out with gossipy chatter, then a year later we had a baby, Fynnton Dexter Gray — Life complete with the very two things I never thought would happen.
What was it like to work with Brandon Jameson, the director of the fashion film “Pearl”?
Working with Brandon was a dream. As art director of the film I was amazed and excited about how close to historical elements used in the film he insisted on being. We were thrilled to have been nominated for 9 awards and won 3 at the La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival. Brandon is also a very talented photographer.
Can you tell about your creative partnership with Cosa Salvaje Tequila?
I am so excited about my partnership with Cosa Salvaje Tequila. http://www.cosasalvajetequila.com/ and as the executive vice president of marketing and philanthropy, it is really ticking all my boxes. The creator, Elle France and I have just completed a short fashion film about the brand, produced by BrightChild Media (another company I am partnered with) and the result is extraordinary. I guess you could say I am a jack of a lot of trades and a master of most of them. I am always learning and getting better and more refined in my business endeavors. My biggest challenge I would say is balancing all the things I am involved in with spending time with my family. My beautiful and uber supportive wife Bunny Jo and our super talented model/actor son Fynnton Gray are my worlds and the reason I do everything I do. We are, by all accounts, designing our life…one moment at a time.
What a pleasure it was to speak with Kenn Gray. Kenn Gray is stylish in all facets of his life and has no plans on slowing down. To learn more and connect with Kenn:
Lizzy Collazos is a LA based writer who covers fashion, style and emerging artists. She is constantly sourcing and inspired by designers, artists and entertainers making their mark in an innovative way. “I see fashion and art as a beautiful form of self-expression and a way to tell a story.” "I love becoming immersed in a project and seeing it through fruition."She knows the LA scene well and currently contributed to The LA Fashion Magazine as well as LA-Story.com. Follow Lizzy Collazos on these social platforms.