Charity Meets: Kenn Gray, Travel Channel Star And Designer of Kenn Gray Home
Name: Kenn Gray
Occupation: Designer, Kenn Gray Home
Twitter Handle: @kenngrayhome
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/kenngrayhome
If we are talking colors, gray would be the least likely to describe the vibrant and outgoing Kenn Gray; however, if we are talking legacy, Gray fits just right. As a travel veteran, Kenn took over the world as the star of Travel Spies aired on the Travel Channel and continued to dazzle in the both fashion and charity. With his lengthy travel experience combined with his adoration for fashion and his devotion to philanthropy, it’s no wonder his next endeavor would combine the three. His new line Kenn Gray Home encourages people to create their happiest place on Earth while keeping the crisp yet traditional style of home décor as an ode to one’s life. And let’s not forget the giving soul that accompanies the brand, Kenn Gray Home will partner with a different celebrity pal and the giveback of their choice each month for a slice of the company’s profit.
What are three words that best describe you? Outgoing, out-of-the-box and outlandish
Could you describe your business? Kenn Gray Home line of home goods includes lamps, chandeliers, lanterns, furniture, wall art, pillows and accessories. This line is for people from all walks of life, incorporating both affordable and high-end pieces.
What is your role, where are you based and what inspires you most about your work? I am the designer of Kenn Gray Home. Based in Paducah, Kentucky and I am inspired by my home in the South, as well as my design experience in Los Angeles, Boston and New York City. The line offers an aesthetic of Southern tradition with a modern flair.
Fashion, of course, also plays a huge role in my inspiration as an interior designer.
Was there anything in your past that pointed you in the direction you’ve taken? I traveled the world as the host of Travel Channel’s ‘Travel Spies,’ and took my 20 years of experience as an interior designer to bring world-class style into homes nationwide.
What experience in your career are you most proud of? I am so proud of the Kenn Gray Home line. It has always been a dream of mine to create a line of home goods that offers attainable style, where just one piece can transform a room.
What advice would you share with those still in school? Expand your horizons. Find mentors and partnerships with people or companies, even if they aren’t in your field. More experience equates to a better view of the world while ultimately leads to better work experience.
Also, involve yourself with non-profit organizations. Giving your time and talents has benefits that are far-reaching and very teaching.
Why is giving back is important to you? I have always been involved in the non-profit sector. From my perspective, it’s my responsibility to give back to the community I live in, and I believe others should as well. We all have different experiences, talents and interests, and using those for the good of others is a wonderful opportunity.
How has giving back helped you? Giving back has helped me in more ways than I could ever explain. Seeing how my charity work makes a real difference gives me the drive to want to do more.
How do you incorporate giving back into your life? As Founder and President of the Paducah Philanthropic Committee (PPC), I am involved in many charity initiatives in my community.Most recently, we raffled off a Dream Playhouse at BBQ on the River to benefit Toys for Tots and Wounded Warriors.
Which charities are near and dear to you and why? It is very important to me to give back and support the mission of many different special organizations, which is why I launched Kenn Gray Home Gives Back alongside the product line. Each month, I will partner with a different celebrity friend and donate proceeds from a select item to a charity of his or her choice. This month, I have partnered with Charlotte Ross and Best Friends Animal Society, and will contribute 10 percent of proceeds from the line’s “Charlotte” mirror through October 31, 2014.
When it comes to your own philanthropic efforts, what do you look back and feel made the largest impact on those that you set out to help?Wow, that’s a tough question. I would hope that all of my initiatives have had an impact on those I was trying to help. Years ago I founded Boston KidsmART, an organization that provided funding for the arts for underserved youths. Being raised in an area with very little arts opportunities, I loved seeing how it affected these kids so positively.
What is the most creative fundraising idea you’ve come across?
Anytime you can partner with local businesses is always a plus. With Boston KidsmART, we provided area businesses with collection boxes for donated art supplies. Similarly, the PPC, as part of a silent auction, had ‘Party Sign-ups,’ where people agreed to host themed parties for a certain dollar amount and partner with area restaurants to provide food.
What are some must-attend charity events for you? I host the Easter Seals Art Auction every year and love this event! Also, the Gray Manor Holiday Party, which is at my home each year, always benefits a non-profit organization. Another favorite is the Wine and Chocolate Festival benefitting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital put on by Window World Cares. Who doesn’t like wine and chocolate?
What brands do you wear most often? I wear mostly up-and-coming designers, but I also have some amazing pieces from Commes de Garcons and the like that I pull out for special events. I also love to buy things and embellish them myself!
What is your favorite beauty product?Fresh makes the most wonderful lemon scented lotions and bath gels. Love it.
How would you describe your home décor? My home décor is a melding of nostalgia and a modern aesthetic.
What is your secret for hosting a great party? Leave nothing to chance. I have been hosting events and parties for so long, and I really have it down to a science. At the Kenn Gray Home launch event this past month, my guests were greeted by a large step and repeat banner and were photographed on an orange carpet. A little drama goes a long way to make an event memorable!
Favorite food: Brussel sprouts. I make the best.
Favorite cocktail: Citron Vodka Martini
Favorite restaurant: I love to try out local eateries on my travels. Nothing immerses you in a culture like the food!
If you could host a dinner party for 8, who would you invite living or dead?My wife Kendra, Julia Childs (to cook), Whitney Houston (for entertainment), Marie Antoinette (I would just love to see her eat cake in an enormous period gown), Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie (Brad for obvious reasons and Angelina to ask her how she keeps up with all those kids AND finds time to help other kids all over the world) and, of course, Joan Rivers so she could critique everyone’s dress.
Favorite vacation spot: It is a tie between Alys Beach and Jackson Hole in Jackson, Wyoming.
Do you have any tips for parents? Listen to your children. My son Fynnton has always been (as most children are) a brutally honest kid. Even though it sometimes doesn’t make sense, there is always a reason for what they say!
Favorite TV show: “I Love Lucy.” If we are talking about current shows, I love “Arrow,” and my friend Charlotte Ross just happens to be on it!
Favorite movie: The Sound of Music is my all-time favorite. Sordid Lives is my cult classic favorite. I love Frozen because Fynnton loves it. And current movie? Well, I haven’t had time lately to go see one, which is sad because it is my favorite thing to do!
Favorite song:I am addicted to anything Maroon 5 or Adam Levine does. I also love old jazz classics.
Favorite book: If I had time to read…I would probably watch a movie!
Favorite apps: SocialCoaster is an awesome new app and works a bit like Facebook, but it has a new, cool way of connecting people!
iPhone or Android: iPhone
Favorite workout: Chasing after my 4 year old!
Where do you get your news? Any news I see is on the Internet, but I mostly avoid it, especially if it’s negative.