Kade Henderson: Overcoming Adversity Is Beauty Queen’s True Crown and Glory

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Henderson. Photograph by Alex Vanderheyden

Looking at the picture of Kade Henderson —Miss Black New York USA 2015— with her crown and sash, you may believe she always lived in a fairy tale. But this picture does not tell the whole story.

Just four short years ago, Henderson along with her six brothers and sisters— she is one of 21 siblings — and her mother lived in a homeless shelter in Rochester, New York. Her family fell on tough times after her stepdad, who was the breadwinner of her family, died due to colon cancer.

“From 15, 16, 17, those whole three years of my life, we [were] living in cars, staying with family, and couch surfacing while my mom was positioning herself to get back on track,” remembers Henderson who is now 21 years old.

However, that bout of hardship in addition to having a large family helped mold Henderson career and her determination to create her best life.

“My mom was a single parent. We didn’t have discretionary income," she says, "when I had a picture day or a field trip day or tried to fit in with peers in school, I couldn’t because I didn’t have the opportunity to buy fashionable clothes. So my love of fashion was born from that adversity.”

Plus, Henderson admits that she was a tomboy growing up, since she wore a lot of hand-me-down clothes from her older brothers.

”I would take a pair of jeans from my brother and wear it three different ways. Having that knowledge on how to maximize my pieces, opened up the arena to explore fashion,” she says.

To date, Henderson has styled models who have appeared in notable magazines such as VOGUE, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle and Cosmopolitan. Currently, Henderson is buying clothing for an online boutique called “First Impression” that she created and intends to launch in July.  She also owns an imaging consulting business called Kades Mode.

After being homeless, Henderson attended the State University of New York (SUNY) at  Buffalo and California State University at Northridge. Henderson completed her studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) where she earned her Associates in Applied Science in 2014.

Currently she is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Fashion Merchandise Management specializing in Product Development also from FIT and is expected to graduate in the spring. She is also certified in Wardrobe Styling as well as JDA Enterprise and Planning.

During college, Henderson began to think about what would be the best way to share her story of homelessness, being bullied and living in poverty in order to inspire others. That’s when she came across pageantry.

“This a multimillion dollar industry," she says. "I feel like pageantry provides the platform for young women to  love themselves and show them that there is an opportunity to exceed or excel further.”

While the poised and confident Henderson, has accomplished a lot at a young age, she is full of gratitude and hopes to use her Miss Black New Yor USA title to shed light on the issues she cares about.

Her goals include motivational speaking at elementary schools on how poverty impacted her life in addition to being a spokesperson for education and wellness.

“I believe public education can be enhanced to cater to that person affected by poverty,” Henderson adds.

Looking back over her journey thus far, Henderson truly believes that every obstacle created an opportunity that she used to push herself further.

“Facing my adversities helped me understand that there is a way out and I’m not limited to my environment. I could go as far as my reach," she says, and adds, "you're able to go anywhere as long as you dream big. If your dreams are not scaring you, it’s not big enough.”

Henderson will compete for the Miss Black USA 2015 title in Washington, D.C. August 5-9.

To find out more information about Miss Black USA Pageant and Scholarship Foundation, Inc. or Henderson, visit the following websites: www.KadesMode.com and www.MissBlackUSA.org

You can also follow Kade Henderson on Twitter and Instagram @KadesMode.


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