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“My philosophy towards life and business is simply to enjoy it,” says Kenya Roberson, CEO of Elite Garment Distro, a fashion export company moving up to half a million items a month. It’s a simple statement but one that hides a background that was far from easy. 

“I am the second eldest sister in a family of five girls and two adopted boys, brought up by our grandmother, a school teacher,” she says. “My mother passed away when I was young, and my father was only involved periodically.”

It was Kenya’s grandmother who held the main parental role, and who showed her that single women can conquer the world—and that is exactly what she went out and did. Kenya’s company Elite Garment Distro today bridges a gap in the fashion markets, redistributing excess inventory for some of the world’s biggest brands. “Our goal is to create less textile waste on the planet by upcycling and creating a second and third life for garments,” she says.

It’s not just a redistribution of fashion items, adds Kenya, but of wealth itself. “My clients consist of wholesalers, boutiques, and discount outlet stores from all countries in the world. We are typically supplying impoverished countries with designer apparel they could not otherwise afford.”

Early Beginnings

“I had a taste for fashion at a young age,” says entrepreneur Kenya, who joined French fashion house Herve Leger and worked for an LA-based wholesale company, which taught her some of the tools she needed to understand the wholesale and export side of the business. “There was a eureka moment when I realized I could merge high fashion and wholesale together and create what Elite Garment Distro is today.”

The company now works with world-famous brands and contemporary labels. “My stock is sourced from the USA and Europe. Some of the countries we sell goods to include Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Chile, Bolivia, Ghana, Nigeria, and Australia,” says Kenya.

Key to the business is connecting excess production with a demand for fashion products in less developed countries, and at the same time reducing waste. “Linking our upcycling message to our business is important because we do not just buy and sell the inventory,” says Kenya. 

Uneven Playing Field

It all links back to her upbringing and her realization that not everything in the world is created equal. “Growing up in a large family in a middle-class neighborhood, I often felt the limitations of our resources. While bused to a better school, I still felt a gap between my reality and that of my classmates.

She continues to be connected to her roots. “I never lost the desire to work with high-end brands, as my experience in the LA fashion industry was a large part of my history. As a result, I opened my own company where I could use my export, logistics, fashion sense, and premier brand knowledge.”

Kenya says that upcycling is one of the most important services companies like Elite Garment Distro provide to the planet. “In America alone, an estimated 11.3 million tons of textile waste—equivalent to 85% of all textiles—ends up in landfills on a yearly basis.

Counterfeiting is an issue. “We only buy goods directly from the brands. We are provided releases and sanitized invoices for the goods, which authenticates the merchandise,” she says.

Sourcing markets is also key. “In order to create new relationships in terms of supply we are constantly cold calling new companies. In order to find new clients we typically go to trade shows where we can meet international buyers from all over the world.”

Kenya leads from the front. “I hire men and women from different backgrounds and push them to be the best they can be by offering the example that if you set your mind to any goal, you can achieve it,” she says. “What makes my company impactful is that we provide jobs to people of all backgrounds, help brands get rid of their excess inventory, and clean up the planet by upcycling excess fast fashion and designer brands’ unusable or no longer sellable goods. 

Mom’s the Word

Kenya’s approach to parenting reflects her grandmother’s teachings of empowerment and resilience. Embracing her children’s individuality and encouraging them to follow their passions, regardless of societal norms or challenges, she emphasizes self-belief and limitless potential.

“My grandmother always believed in teaching children the sky’s the limit. I also maintain similar values. My son is a stellar athlete playing football, baseball, and basketball. My daughter is a special needs child with Autism, and she has been excelling exponentially and learning how to live with her disability simply because I tell her she can do it all.”

From beach cleanups to feeding the homeless, she always gives back. In her business, she found a unique opportunity to make a difference. By rescuing and repurposing merchandise from factories and fast fashion brands, she aims to contribute to an eco-friendlier world. 


KO Media newsroom and editorial staff were not involved in the creation of this content.