Skip to main content
Queen Mary Alumni

Alumni profile - Kayleigh Benoit

(English and Drama BA, 2008)

With my brand, the mission is that regardless of where you're from, what your background is, what your race is, what your hair type is, it doesn't matter, there's a place for you.



Headshot of alumna, Kayleigh Benoit

Why did you choose to study English and Drama at Queen Mary?

I really wanted to study Drama because I wanted to get into acting but my family wanted me to also study English just in case the acting wasn’t successful, or I changed my mind later down the line. I'm glad I did now because I found the English side more enjoyable and that’s what led me into teaching.

What aspects of your degree did you find most enjoyable and was there anything that surprised you in your studies?

Interestingly I found that before university, I was very academic and I was really good at studying coursework, but I then started to prefer the practical side more than the theory, so I think that's what surprised me. I guess when you're at university, you start to grow and see what you like and dislike and where your strengths are.

What were your early experiences like after graduating? Did you find interesting work straight away or was it more of a journey?

I'm quite a proactive person so I don't wait around. If the opportunity is not there, I'll make one. In my third year, I became a Queen Mary ambassador which involved working in secondary schools in East London and I really enjoyed working with young people. After I graduated, I continued my part-time role at Topshop and I remember I went on vacation and as soon as I came back, I handed in my notice and decided I would become a teaching assistant. Again, my family said I should at least stay at Topshop for a bit, but I said no. I left Topshop on Friday and started working as a TA on Monday and I haven't been out of work since. I've always had that background of, ‘we work to get what we need.’

I’m not going to be shrunken in terms of what I choose to do for myself and the impact I want to create.

Can you briefly describe what you do now?

I am the founder of a high fashion sportswear brand called BIND London, which is a fitness and athleisure brand, specialising in headwear that not only protects against sweat, heat, and moisture, but is the first brand of its kind to inclusively and consciously cater to all hair types and textures. I am also a wellness entrepreneur with a nutrition club in Ruislip, and I run an accountability group to help people with nutrition and fitness goals. Alongside this, I speak for organisations and businesses on the topics of crowdfunding, networking, and starting a business.

Can you tell me about a key turning point in your career?

I like to do certain things on my own terms, and I loved being in education, but yes, there was that turning point of having a business idea – and they do say, ‘once the mind expands, it doesn’t go back to its original size'. Getting exposed to different things and different people, you start to see what else is out there and what’s possible for you and you just want to dive in. Some workplaces are quite lenient and embrace that, but some just don’t want to see you grow or try other things, so I thought, if I can’t do that and teach, no problem, I’ll go elsewhere. I’m not going to be shrunken in terms of what I choose to do for myself and the impact I want to create.

Was there a specific moment you remember where you came up with your idea for your business?

Yes, I remember it super specifically. It was just before the summer holidays and I was off for two weeks because I had Vertigo and I felt really ill, and I thought I would just sit in the garden and read because I couldn’t really do anything else. I read the book, Slay in Your Lane: The Black Girl Bible, by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené, and I was just loving this book. There was a chapter on business which explained that as black women, we can create business brands that cater to our audience which someone else of a different demographic probably can’t. That's when I had the idea. I was training at the time and had recently transitioned to wearing my naturally curly hair, and so my mind started to wander, and I thought, this seems like something I could do, and it was at that moment that the idea for BIND London started to brew.

I then made the commitment to go to as many events as possible and I was fangirling the authors and found out that they were going to be speaking at The British Library. While I was there, I found out that the British Library has a wealth of events for anyone interested in starting their own business, so I attended as many events as I could. That’s what gave me the confidence to pursue my business idea and I handed in my notice at work a few months later.

Can you describe what a typical working day looks like for you?

I love routine and my days differ according to what I'm doing for the week. I still work part-time as a freelance Literacy Consultant which I do two days a week. Then on business days, I'm up early, like 4.40am - I'm an early bird! I've got to do the most in the morning because by the time it's 3-4pm I'm just like distraction overload! I have a good morning routine which I've done for the last few years so I like to take a bit of time to work on myself first because the rest of the day is focused on serving other people, and then the rest of the day I have a process of following up on lots of messages and then from there I like to do a lot of “power hours” - I'm a massive advocate for a power hour - so I do one hour of just real focus work - phone is on silent, no scrolling, nothing like that - just one hour of focused work.

Before I left teaching I got a dog, which was partly to make sure I take breaks because sometimes I get in the zone and I can work flat out, whereas now, I need to walk Calvin because he needs me. I design my schedule so that in the evenings I'm doing things which don't take too much brain work, maybe some social media engagement or going to the nutrition center that I part own to do a class.

How do you find motivation as an entrepreneur? What keeps you going?

The purpose of the brand is key, so with that and what I do with wellness and nutrition, it is always mission-based, and the product is just the vehicle to get there. With BIND London, the mission is inclusivity in fitness and wellness. I've gone to so many fitness and wellness festivals and yoga classes and sometimes you go into a certain space or a certain demographic and you're one of the only people of colour and sometimes there's a tone of, why are you here? I was born and bred in London, and I don't want to feel like that; it’s not good enough. So, with my brand, the mission is that regardless of where you're from, what your background is, what your race is, what your hair type is, it doesn't matter, there's a place for you.Kayleigh Benoit wearing a BIND London hair wrap So that's what keeps me motivated because as the brand grows that story needs to hit more people.

Being purpose-driven and reading a lot of personal growth books so that you know your path is really important. A lot of people don’t know and it’s sad because, why are we here? Maybe that’s too deep a question for some people to uncover, but you’re not going to get the answer in a day, in a week, or in one book, it takes a lot of time to get to know yourself, but that’s what keeps me going. You can be motivated by one speech on YouTube, but that won’t keep you going when the going gets tough. It must be backed up by education, and even on your bad days, you need to remind yourself that you must get this mission accomplished as a non-negotiable.

What was it like to see AJ Odudu wearing your brand on Strictly Come Dancing?

Oh, it was wicked! So she had put up a post in her fitness gear and headscarf and I commented saying “if you were to wear a BIND London scarf, we'd be screaming” and she replied and said “I'm ready” and I went into her direct messages so fast! I explained I was a massive Strictly fan and I said I would be happy to gift her some pieces and she sent the nicest message (it's all in my Instagram post of what she said word for word). I didn't forget about it but at the end of the day she hadn’t signed a contract, she doesn't have to do anything, but then she did, and she tagged BIND London and then I saw it on Strictly and I was screaming!

Looking back, how did your time and study at Queen Mary help with your career and development?

Numerous ways. I think being an ambassador was pretty life changing because I initially just went into it thinking, this is something cute that I can put on my CV, but that’s what got me into teaching. Then doing my dissertation taught me to take ownership of what I wanted to do, which is not only a great skill, but a great characteristic to have as an individual because it's quite easy to fall into what everybody else is doing, especially with social media around, but learning to take ownership of where you want to be is really important.

What advice would you give a current student or recent graduate considering their career options?

I help quite a few students in my accountability group, and I try to teach them about self-discipline as it really sets you up for life post-uni. They're starting to learn about personal development and I'm starting to see them mature, so yes, getting some self-discipline's, either in your studies or round your studies, and thinking, who am I becoming as a whole? I would say this is a good question to ask yourself.

If you would like to get in touch with Kayleigh or engage them in your work, please contact the Alumni Engagement team at




Back to top