From runways to red carpets, to the streets of Bryan/College Station, Chance Okonski is making a name for himself in the world of men’s fashion.
Whether you’ve heard of him or not, Chance is making moves in the community, keeping the residents of the Brazos Valley guessing as to what is next for the multifaceted Entrepreneur and Menswear Blogger. We sat down with the style guru to talk shop, discuss his new role as President of The Fashion Event, and hear what he has in-store for 2018.
MW: The last time we spoke to you was back in 2017 when you won the ‘Best Men’s Clothing Store’ category in our annual Best of BCS contest. How have you been since we last spoke?
CO: Wow! It has been a while since we last chatted and thank you again for the ‘Best of BCS’ nomination and award. It’s a great honor to have the readers of Maroon Weekly select KIE as their favorite place to shop for men’s clothing. It’s a great feeling when others love and appreciate what you love! As far as how I’ve been since we last spoke, I’m doing really well. 2017 was a year full of changes for me, personally and professionally, but in my opinion change is good! I’ve learned a lot over the past few months and am enjoying navigating all the new paths 2018 has laid out for me.
MW: Speaking of new paths, 2018 is already shaping up to be a year of change for you. Tell us what that looks like.
CO: Well as you know, I made the decision to close the doors to my brick and mortar location and re-open online this January. It was honestly one of the scariest and most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make, but with the support of the community (and some very loyal customers) it was definitely the right decision and I’m very excited for the future of KIE Men’s Shoppe.
MW: Making the move exclusively online is bold. Why did you feel like now was the right time to make the transition?
CO: To be honest, the trend in retail has been moving online for a while now. Everywhere you turn, retailers and suppliers left and right are moving their businesses online to better serve the needs of their customers all over the world. I’m still a huge advocate for small businesses and love seeing Mom and Pop establishments thrive. However, the growing popularity of shopping online and the demand for quick access to products is very much a necessity for todays consumers. By moving KIE online, I can now offer those services to my customers as well.
MW: You took some time to “re-open” and develop the new and improved online store, creating some rumors you may have closed down permanently. Hindsight is 20/20. So we know you are back. But what do you say to those people who may have doubted you?
CO: Dang what a great question! I should have prepared some notes beforehand to better prepare for this (laughs). After closing the doors to the brick and mortar this past summer, I decided to take a break from both the shoppe and my brand. I also took a step back from living my life on social media and put my career as a blogger on hold as well. Mainly so I could focus on what it is that made me truly happy again. I’ve been working since I was 15 years old and have never had the opportunity to sit back and just enjoy life, so I used my time away from the store to do just that. As far as any rumors that may be out there, that is exactly what they are…rumors. I hope I can be some sort of inspiration for others to never give up on their dreams. I’m by no means perfect, and have made several mistakes along the way, however I’m proud of my journey because it’s a part of my story.
MW: Coming out of your break, what else have you been up to?
CO: Outside of developing KIE’s new online storefront, taking some time for myself has has given me the opportunity to grow the brand I worked so hard to create three years ago, while also getting the chance to pursue other passions of mine.
MW: Speaking of pursuing other passions, you recently announced that you will serve as the new President and Executive Director for The Fashion Event this year. Can you tell us more about the event and your transition into this new role?
CO: Absolutely! Like I mentioned earlier, making this move online has afforded me the opportunity to be mobile and pursue other things I’m passionate about, The Fashion Event being one of those. Since their inception in 2015, I’ve had the privilege of participating in this fundraising event with my store KIE. In 2016, my dear friend and last years President, Nikki Pederson, invited me to serve on the committee as the events Creative Director. It was such a positive experience for me, that with the support of several people in the community, we were able to throw an incredibly successful event, raising more than $60,000 for charity. That is what this event is truly all about. Beyond all the fashion and glamour this event delivers year after year lies a much greater purpose, and this to help others in need. Nikki Pederson really instilled that as our sole mission for this organization and I’m beyond honored to continue serving that purpose in 2018.
MW: You just mentioned that The Fashion Event is about more than just fashion. You donate all of the proceeds to charity, correct?
CO: Absolutely. Our long term goal with this event is to help support as many local non-profits as we possibly can. By selecting a different recipient each year we are able to do just that.
MW: Who is this years recipient and how were they chosen?
CO: Choosing a recipient is always the most difficult decision we are faced with every year. There are so many deserving organizations within the Brazos Valley that are doing really great things for this community. However, by choosing only one each year, we are able to make a much larger impact on that non-profits mission and purpose. What I hoped to find when choosing this years recipient was a strong connection to their overall vision and message. An organization that had a genuine passion for helping others around them. I found just that when meeting with the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Texas, making them our charitable recipient for 2018.
MW: Can you tell us more about the Ronald McDonald House and what they do here in the Brazos Valley?
CO: The Ronald McDonald House and Ronald McDonald Family Rooms are a comforting “home-away-from-home” that keeps families close to their hospitalized children when they are ill. They also have what it is “Happy Wheels Carts” that stroll the hospital hallways, bringing complimentary items to families waiting by their child’s bedside. Outside of those services, there are times where unfortunately not every parent gets to take home their sick child. In times of grief, Ronald McDonald House offers a chance of hope through their Healing Hearts program which supports families that have tragically lost a child.
MW: Seems like you made a great choice. When is The Fashion Event taking place and where can people go to help support the Ronald McDonald House?
CO: The event is taking place March 22nd-24th at The Stella Hotel in Bryan. For more information on how you can get involved, donate to our cause, or to purchase tickets to the event, please visit www.TheFashionEventBCS.com
CO: Thank you guys for the continual support and for letting me share my story with the readers of Maroon Weekly! I greatly appreciate it!