Hailing from Brooklyn New York, Trevian Kutti has made a mark on the Chicago luxury fashion scene, with a sense of style that is as fierce as her personality. After studying marketing in college, Trevian started working at various cosmetic counters, such Shiseido and Erno Lazlo, and then found herself working for the Chanel corporate office in New York. However, she never stayed long at any one place. According to Trevian, “there’s nothing like working for yourself,” and “once you do, it’s impossible to go back.”
In 1997, Trevian and her Nigerian-born husband B.J. opened their first business, G’Bani, in Chicago. The boutique was the first high-heel concept shoe store in the city. Today, G’Bani, (located on Oak Street), also sells women’s and men’s designer clothing, along with shoes. The couple has opened a few other stores, including one named Trevian in Old Town and another in Nigeria, with plans to expand even more in the coming years. Kutti’s competitive nature and drive has also led her to compete in the marathon 8 times, and she is involved with several organizations, including the Gift2 Foundation, Rally for Kids with Cancer and the Jesse White Tumblers.
PJC: What is one word that would describe you and your personality?
PJC: What do you think motivates and keeps you going as an entrepreneur?
TK: Competition drives me. I always say, “competition keeps you in condition”…and yes, I have a few muscles here and there.
PJC: Do you have a funny or interesting experience that you’d like to share?
TK: I went to the Oprah show as a member of the audience. Before the end of the show, from out of nowhere, she called me up on stage because she had been admiring my style the entire show. She said that I was the first to ever inspire her to do an audience fashion show.
PJC: Who are some of the people that you admire and have inspired you?
TK: My two grandmothers are my biggest inspirations. They taught me what life is all about. One of them taught me to stand by your man and give the best to your family. The other taught me to keep my own bank account.
PJC: What are some of the greatest obstacles you’ve had to overcome on your journey towards attaining success?
TK: My husband was deported a week after 9/11 after his green card was denied. I was 4 months pregnant. Not only did I have to maintain the business affairs alone, I had to be the driving force behind holding our family together. It has been the biggest trial of my life and we are one year into his return. Meanwhile, for the last 9 years, we have been meeting in different parts of the world. We also have another child in addition to the first. When you know you got something good, you fight to hold on to it. That’s what I’ve been doing. I thank God unconditionally for giving me the strength and courage to take the bumps and bruises graciously.
PJC: What does “success” mean to you?
TK: Success is when you wake up in the morning and you are healthy and happy in your soul. Then, and only then, can you really live to fight another day.
PJC: What is your favorite thing about Chicago?
TK: If you are good at what you do, you can move up in the ranks very quickly.
PJC: Where are some of your favorite places to shop in Chicago?
TK: Luminaire. I’m always looking to improve my home, and they definitely have assisted me in doing so.
PJC: Who is your personal fashion icon?
TK: Diana Vreeland and my favorite designer is Diego Dolcini.
PJC: What are three of your favorite books?
TK: 48 Laws of Power, The Celestine Prophecy and The Princessa.
PJC: What are some of your future aspirations or goals?
TK: To stay healthy, because then you can always be wealthy.
PJC: What advice would you give to those who are currently on the path of pursuing their dreams and attaining their own success?
TK: Life is short. You have to hustle; you can’t sit around waiting for the Lord to just bless you. You have to go after the things you want in life, so take what’s yours in this world because nobody is going to give it to you.