Meet Keylon Mayo (B.S. ’06): Mr. Klean Kut

For Black History Month, we’re shining a spotlight on Black alumni business owners. Meet the many grads of VCU’s College of Humanities and Sciences that have tapped into their entrepreneurial spirit.
Kelyon Mayo

Meet Keylon Mayo, founder of Mr. Klean Kut, a men’s apparel business he started in 2016. This VCU alum, who works full time as a teacher and coach, was inspired by his students to create a variety of professional wear accessories. Mayo specializes in custom bow ties, pocket squares and handmade lapel flowers. Learn more below. 

Can you describe your business and its goal? What year did you start your company?

Mr. Klean Kut was started several years ago to encourage students to dress up more often. Unfortunately, my students said the options in the stores are either too expensive or not to their taste. I wanted to give them more options to show off their personalities. With my company, I personally sew all my custom bow ties, pocket squares and handmade lapel flowers. The bow ties are interchangeable; the pre-tied bow ties can be pulled apart as self-tied. 

What inspired you to start your company?

I simply wanted to inspire my students by giving them options. I also wanted to show them how I run my business and hope they would want to create their own business as well.

What is something that you wish you would have known before starting your business?

I wish I knew how hard it was to break through some of the barriers that prevent growth. If I knew what I know now, I would still create the business, but I would know how to navigate through situations a lot better.

How did VCU prepare you for this career?

VCU was a blessing to me. The school prepared me to be a networker. I know how to talk to folks from all walks of life because of numerous jobs and roles I held at VCU, from working as an orientation leader to staffing the front desk at Student Health/VCU Card, and hosting various activities through APB (Activities Programing Board), being a RA (Residential Assistant) in addition to participating in Greek Life (Kappa Alpha Psi, Fraternity Inc.).

VCU has also blessed me with opportunities to grow up and figure things out. Situations, good and bad, lead me to seek guidance from some awesome faculty members who are still active mentors in my life.

What is the hardest part about being an entrepreneur? Best part?

The hardest part about being an entrepreneur is getting folks to believe in my vision and to respect the hard work that has been put in. People seek a discount in my product while paying full price to my competitors because of the name but expect the same quality. I give my absolute best in everything I produce but I know I can sew with the best.

Where would you like to see your business in 5/10 years?

In the next five to 10 years, I hope to be in bookstores across the nation including our very own bookstore on Broad St. I just need Barnes and Noble to give me an opportunity. I can create pieces uniquely designed for VCU along with the various schools around the nation.

I have had my pieces purchased in the VMFA and Better Menswear of Richmond (all four of their locations), my hope is to be a preferred vendor in the state of Virginia and the East Coast for weddings and special events. I hope to be in stores such as Macy’s, Target and Bridal shops all over. 

Support Keylon Mayo with a visit to Mr. Klean Kut.