Kelechi Uchendu is the founder of Kay Kays fashion and the brainchild behind the book Bully Friends.
Kelechi dealt with bullying and bully friendships during grade school, Bully Friends teaches everyone (even the bully!) about how dangerous bully friendships really are. This book covers everything from defining what a bully friend is to how to heal from a bully friend relationship.
Along the way, Kay Kay shares personal stories of her heartbreaking experiences with bully friends and how she went on to find herself and form healthy relationships now and in the future.
Heartwarmingly honest and raw, this book should be read by all. We spent some time with her to find out more…
Tell us about the journey that led you to publish Bully Friends
I dealt with bullying in some of my friendships when I was in middle school and high school. Those experiences were at times very traumatic and they caused me to view myself negatively. When I graduated high school and started attending university at Michigan State University, I went on a healing journey to better my mental and emotional health. While on this journey I stopped feeling resentful of my past bullying experiences and I decided to use my wisdom to raise awareness on bullying and bullying in friendships.
When I started law school in 2013, I made a YouTube video about bully friends and several people told me that they liked the video. I also noticed that even though I stopped being bullied when I graduated high school, there were adults who were dealing with toxic friendships. This inspired me to want to write a book called Bully Friends. I wanted to help people.
I finally decided to make my dream a reality at the end of 2019. I started researching publishing companies, editors, and graphic designers. I ended up writing the book during quarantine and the book was released in July 2020.
What was the biggest thing that you learned since releasing Bully Friends?
I have learned that your pain can birth your dreams. A lot of people might not realize that Bully Friends technically started from traumatic experiences and sadness. However, if I did not go through what I went through then I would not have written this book and achieved my dream of becoming an author. When I was being bullied, I never know that my pain would lead me to my dreams. I also recently found out that Bully Friends is being sold on Walmart.com! I always dreamed that one of my products would be sold in a major retailer and now that dream is a reality.
What advice would you offer to anyone who wants to become a published author?
I would tell them to do their research and find out which route they want to take to become a published author. For example, do they want to self-publish, work with a hybrid publisher, or go down the traditional route. If they do want to publish the book themselves then I would tell them to invest in an editor and a great graphic designer and/or illustrator so that they are taken seriously.
How have people responded to Bully Friends?
People have loved the book! I am so thankful that retailers have been selling the book in their stores without me even having to reach out to them! There was a teenage boy who was getting bullied and read my book and his family member told me he was moved by it. That kind of feedback brings tears to my eyes.
Have you heard from any of your former bully friends since you graduated high school?
I made a conscious decision to permanently cut off any bully friend or negative person in my life when I graduated high school. Therefore, I really have not heard from any of my former bully friends. However, in 2013 when I released the YouTube video about bullying in friendships, a former high school classmate who is close friends with one of the bully friends I discussed in the video (and later in the book) reached out to me. She told me that I owed the bully friend an apology because I made her sad by sharing my experience (even though I never used her name and was respectful in my video) and that the bully friend was only giving me tough love and was not a bully. I and many others found this response to be very strange and problematic. The bully friend would constantly call me names, put me down, and one time even angrily and hatefully used the n-word (a racial slur) to describe Black people in my presence. Anyone knows that what the bully friend did to me was not love, it was abuse. This situation made me realize how easy it is for abuse victims to be gaslighted by their abusers. It also made me more motivated to educate people on what is actually acceptable in a friendship.
What is your go-to quote when lacking motivation?
1 Corinthians 1:27 states, “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”
What’s next for Bully Friends?
I am currently writing a screenplay for Bully Friends. I would like to turn Bully Friends into a movie that you watch on Amazon Prime, Netflix, Lifetime, and/or Hulu.
What does self-care mean to you?
To me, self-care means doing what you need to do to make sure that you are mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually whole.
Where can people find out more?
People can follow me on Instagram. My Instagram handle is @kaykaysway92. People can also visit kaykaysway.com and kaykaysfashion.com to learn more about me, Bully Friends, and Kay Kay’s Fashion. Finally, you can purchase Bully Friends at several retailers including Amazon (https://amzn.to/3mLcfyH), Books-A-Million (https://bit.ly/3nNUZdr), and Indie Bound (https://bit.ly/38BpTPR). Also please check out this link to find another retailer near you where you can purchase the book: https://www.kaykaysway.com/bully-friends.