Meet Kenya and Steve! The duo bringing you a beautifully curated collection of furniture and everything else you need to make a house a home.
Meet Kenya and Steve! Kenya grew up in Germantown. After earning a degree from Howard University, he conceptualized and launched a number of local clothing brands, including the cult classic Miskeen Original, worn by rappers and celebrities. In the early 2000s he opened a store, Kamouflage, in the Cheltenham Mall.
Steve is from Chester. For decades he was a construction contractor, designing and building kitchens and bathrooms for clients’ homes. He designed and constructed The Modern Republic’s gorgeous upper-level showroom.
Kenya and Steve met each other at Kenya’s store in 2008. Kenya had a fashion show with staged furniture that Steve organized. They stayed in touch, and in 2018 they reconnected to buy and sell furniture and more cool things. Furniture and home goods sales became a second career for Kenya and Steve. Age and experience, however, are what sent both Kenya and Steve to their new career trajectories. Today, Kenya and Steve’s day to day consists of scouring estate sales, flea markets, auctions and the homes of friends and neighbors to buy contemporary and vintage home goods then refurbish and resell them under the brand The Modern Republic.
When Kenya and Steve re-connected in 2018 to launch their new professional endeavor they kept it local in the beginning. They started at the Phila Flea and then expanded to a new demographic in Brooklyn NY. The response was great there, and it sharpened their insights in terms of what people were buying and inspired by, which helped develop their aesthetic.
In 2020, flea markets closed down due to the pandemic. Kenya and Steve were lucky enough to find a temporary home in a shared Brewerytown warehouse called Search & Rescue. It was becoming clear that all their hard work was starting to pay off. They had integrity and vision, and now their reputation and inventory was growing. All of this meant it was time to get their own space.
They opened The Modern Republic in May 2021. Their 3,000 foot showroom is in a landmark building on the Northside of Philly, The Civic, which was once St Joe’s hospital and chapel. Kenya and Steve were very deliberate about where they wanted their brand to live. “By definition, a modern republic is a place where sovereignty rests with the people, and a big goal of ours is to uplift. As successful African-American men, who grew up in “rough” neighborhoods in Philly, we intentionally chose a space in North Philly because we are aware that the area is typically associated with crime and poverty. We want to offer something of beauty, creativity, and empowerment to the neighborhood.” Now The Modern Republic is a full-service design showroom. Along with a retail store, they offer interior design, interior styling, and rental options and they accept appointments during the weekdays.
Roses and Thorns
“We love everything about owning our own business because we are building our life around what we are passionate about. Every day is different. We are learning and teaching while we are growing in the sense of learning about art and design and leading a team. We really have no thorns now. Previously, not having a location was challenging; there was nothing worse than trying to convince someone of something without providing the right background. But now we have a strong product, a stellar space, and an awesome team to back up our enterprise.”