Hometown The Bronx
Now Lives In his parents’ six-bedroom house in Mount Vernon, N.Y.
Claim to Fame Mr. Kissi is a founder of the men’s lifestyle blog Street Etiquette, a style journal that started in 2008 and focuses on fashion-forward black men. A collaboration with his best friend, Travis Gumbs, Street Etiquette did not just document cool-looking street style, but also created editorial mood boards that told a story.
“Black stylish men do exist,” Mr. Kissi said. “Black creativity does exist. And that was very much our purpose.” The blog got attention from corporate brands and has evolved into a creative agency. Clients have included Nike, Adidas, Puma, Starbucks and the United States Open.
Big Break Two years after introducing Street Etiquette, Mr. Kissi, a self-taught photographer, started a project called Black Ivy, which documented the preppy collegiate styles at the traditionally African-American colleges Howard, Morehouse and Spelman. The project, which challenged stereotypes of young African-American men, got the attention of Robert Lee, a designer and marketer at Adidas. A lunch led to meetings in Portland, Ore., and Herzogenaurach, Germany, and eventually to consulting and art direction jobs for Mr. Kissi.
Latest Project In August, Mr. Kissi released TONL, a photo stock gallery that represents a diverse array of skin complexions and lifestyles. Created with a business partner, Karen Okonkwo, TONL is meant to be an alternative to photo stock galleries like Getty and Shutterstock, offering images including young black women braiding each others’ hair on the beach, or an interracial gay couple holding hands in front of a brownstone. “Ninety percent of the world isn’t European or white, but most of the advertising is,” Mr. Kissi said.
Next Thing As part of its mission to showcase underrepresented voices, TONL is sharing the stories behind some of its photographs, in the form of podcasts, online essays and networking events.
Africa to the World For Mr. Kissi, TONL is more than just a business. It is a visual platform that could help younger generations see themselves in stories. “If you don’t see yourself, you don’t feel like you’re represented and it could take away from how much you want to achieve,” he said.