In this, our next installment in our Young Entrepreneur series we find out how Kevis Hughes is shaping the future of luxury in the Virgin Islands
By: Anika M. Christopher  • Photography: Ricki Richardson

Luxury is a life-long love affair that starts long before you buy the thing you’ve always wanted. In the industry, many successful stories have their origins rooted in very humble beginnings. For many, they didn’t expect the life decisions they made to push them through the revolving door of an entirely new industry, affording them a special place in the world of luxury. Kevis Hughes, the luxe entrepreneur, is one such story. As part of this special Luxe issue of the magazine, we uncovered the story of how he got started in the luxury industry, his latest ventures and the secrets behind his ongoing success.

How it all started

When Kevis started out in the world of luxury, he had no formal training. But the way he was raised made him understand the true value and meaning of luxury and created the conditions for his success later on. When he passed someone on the street, he always greeted them with a “good morning”, “good afternoon” or “good night”. When his grandmother got part time cleaning jobs and needed his help, he never hesitated. “When she needed my help cleaning the bathrooms, I went right in and cleaned. My brother was on glass duty and I did the toilets,” he told us. These are just some of the principles that shaped his life, leading him to create brands that are authentic, precious and ultimately, human. Before he graduated high school, he wanted to find a part time job of his own and wandered through the doors of Columbian Emeralds. Initially, he applied for gift wrapping as it was during Christmas but when he came into work well dressed in shirt and tie, his then boss had other plans for him. He ended up being the company’s gofer during that time and upon graduation, he quickly advanced to the position of sales associate. “My first impression was ‘it’s just pretty glass’… who’s going to spend $4,000 on it,” Kevis had wondered to himself. Yet, on the job he was introduced to the different semi-precious gemstones and learned the rules of sales and management. However, some rules are just meant to be broken.

Kevis vividly recalled one faithful day when a female cruise ship passenger walked into the store and asked to see a sapphire tennis bracelet. All the senior sales associates were busy at the time and Kevis really shouldn’t have shown her the bracelet but decided it was the right thing to do in that moment. By the time the customer left the store, Kevis had secured a $10,000 sale, leaving the senior sales associates and his supervisor in disbelief at how he’d done it. This moment of “learning the rules and breaking them well” is what kick-started his career. There he was, paving his way into the luxury sector, never having any experience in it before. He went on to spend ten and a half years with Columbian Emeralds, working his way within the company. In his hands, the most amazing gemstones and precious metals in the world were transformed into beautiful works of art.

Another lifetime of luxury

Kevis experienced two different extremes in his career in luxury. After learning the value of luxury at Colombian Emeralds, he went onto discover the art of putting it all together and curating the full destination packages at the BVI Tourist Board. In June 2009, Kevis was tasked to work with the BVI Tourist Board on a photo shoot for a magazine. He was responsible for curating the jewellery and assisting with overall coordination. By the end of the day, Kevis had made such a strong impression on the Tourist Board team that he was offered a job right then and there. From there, he jumped into the next phase of his career. He spent 9 years, another part of a lifetime in luxury, at the BVI Tourist Board. There, he led the charge at the BVI Tourism Board’s Marketing department where he added sophistication and style to everything from brand development to destination marketing. During his tenure, he mastered the art of luxury hospitality. He tailor-made unique experiences with luxurious products to create exclusivity and once-in-a-lifetime packages. After his third year of being at the board, the BVI VIP Club programme, originally born in the German office, was introduced and brought to the BVI office. During that time, Kevis made sure the programme was a huge success. From celebrities to royalty to super models, Kevis had the unique opportunity to meet and work with a number of big names like Wendy Williams, Kevin Hart, Tyra Banks, Gisele Bündchen, Ludacris and even Prince Harry. He also played a role in the organising of a promotional plan with the Wendy Williams show where the then Premier, Honourable Ralph T. O’Neal was featured on the Wendy Williams show. A special ‘Watch and Win BVI’ promotion also took place on the show where the winners got the chance to experience the BVI. Without a doubt, Kevis left his mark in the world of tourism. After another decade of luxury, he decided that it was time for him to embrace a new journey.

Being his own boss

In 2017, Kevis left the BVI Tourist Board to pursue his entrepreneurial path. From there, he set foot into the areas of super yachts, marketing and public relations and his first love – jewellery repair. First, Kevis needed to find a way to marry both his love for marketing and his wealth of knowledge and experience in the industry. This led him to teaming up with his brother, Temulji Hughes, to create his first company, KTJ Marketing and Public Relations. With his company, he specialises in creating and executing marketing strategies for luxury brands. As someone who understands the industry, he provides luxury brands with key insights about their existing marketing strategies and how they can be improved. His next company, KTM Yacht Support was born in response to the way the industry was growing in the Virgin Islands and wider Caribbean. Since its inception, it has grown tremendously, becoming the go-to resource for captains in need of assistance aboard luxury yachts. His third and final business (for now at least), Kiss the Jeweler, is his jewellery and watch repair company. It is currently closed as he is in the process of rebranding. To not reveal any surprises, you’ll have to keep a look-out for updates on his next move and what more will come as he continues to reshape the luxury landscape. In the meantime, he left us with a word of advice for anyone who is trying to make their way into the industry: “Obstacles do get in the way but often times we forget that by learning the rules we are able to break away from them.”