Ayodele Kinchen – FESP Mentor


Ayodele Kinchen



California, United States



Ayodele Kinchen was born and raised in East Palo Alto, and grew up in a Pan-African home and community circle. She attended independent, k-8th grade African-centered schools in EPA and was immersed in Afro-centric cultural academia, leadership development, and rites of passage programs created and coordinated in part by her mother. She is a graduate of Howard University (Washington, DC) where she received her BA in Business Administration-Management (1999) and graduate of START-Up (2002) – a business incubator and training program for entrepreneurs.
Ayodele is a founding member and former Director of the Leadership Training Academy (LTA) - an East Palo Alto youth leadership and personal development program established by the Community Development Institute to develop grassroots leaders of colour equipped with the tools, experience, skills, and compassion to lead within their community and abroad. She designed LTA's comprehensive approach utilizing five key components including Academic Success, Health and Wellness, Cultural Enrichment, Leadership, and Community Service, and facilitated weekly training workshops, cultural enrichment activities, and their Annual Summer City Government camp for high school students at Stanford University. Her position in youth services led her to numerous board and civic opportunities. As a key board and committee member of One East Palo Alto (OEPA) - a youth-focused community-based intermediary in EPA, she played an integral role developing a strategic plan for community-wide improvement and development of youth service programs. She further demonstrated an unwavering commitment to improving the lives of EPA's young people by running for a seat on East Palo Alto’s City Council in 2000, with a platform designed to address the needs of at-risk and underserved youth.
In addition to her full-time work, Ayodele was an entrepreneur and professional dancer. She began making jewellery and handbags and officially launched her business, Duafe Designs in 2004. She worked her business during off-hours/weekends and managed to perform as a primary dancer for Fua Dia Congo - a Congolese African Dance company where she studied under the renowned Malonga Casquelourde. Her dance career extended to teaching youth Congolese dance, drum, history, and song as a part-time resident artist for and the ALICE program (Arts & Literacy in Children’s Education, Oakland- 2004-2008) and VALA (Visual Arts Language Arts, a Tides Program, Oakland, 2008-2013) Her resident artist work introduced her to EnCompass Academy Elementary in Oakland, where she accepted the position as the Director of After School programs (2013-2016).
Ayodele worked full-time at EnCompass Academy and part-time as a business entrepreneur until her 3rd child was born. Her growing family needs and increased demand for her products did not function in tandem with a full-time job. Ayodele too long desired to be 100% self-employed. Thus, in 2016, she resigned from her Director post to further invest in her growing business and create a better work-life balance for her and her family.
As the gifted visionary, designer, and owner behind DUAFE Designs, Ayodele specializes in one-of-a-kind waist beads, natural shell jewellery, fashion accessories, and eclectic handbags. She is a self-taught artist with a keen eye and talent for design and finds joy creating wearable art that transforms the everyday woman into a Queen, and young girls into empowered Princesses. She builds awareness of African culture, tradition, and holistic wellness through her services that include waist bead parties, facilitating sister circles, youth workshops, a rite of passage program for girls 7-17, and consulting. Ayodele uses her art as a medium towards empowering young girls and women by designing pieces that heal, encourage, honour, and beautify the mind, body, and spirit. Her products can be found on her website www.duafedesigns.com.


Sector Experience

  • Arts & Culture
  • Education & Training
  • Shipping



  • Business Management and Administration
  • Customer Acquisition and Retention
  • Product Design and Development
  • Business Leadership
  • Business Management Tools (software and online tools to automate business management)


Social Media Links

Linkedin - https://www.linkedin.com/in/ayodele-kinchen Instagram/Twitter - @waistbeadsbyayodele