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Meet Kaia Baker | Founder of Quintessential

Updated: Feb 16

Black History Month Feature

February 12, 2024

By: Leila Biola Olukoga

Kaia Baker is a senior at NYU Tandon School of Engineering combining her interests in both STEM and fashion into a creative, unparalleled experience. 

Born and raised in West Orange, New Jersey, young Kaia Baker was always involved in extracurricular activities. She took part in ballet, painted in her free time, and even took part in Girls Who Code. However, through all these creative interests, Baker always knew that she had a passion for fashion and design. 

Now, as a senior at NYU Tandon School of Engineering, Baker has brought her childhood hobbies and interests to fruition. Majoring in Integrated Design and Media, Baker has immersed herself in the creative world of creative directing and entrepreneurship through her company, Quintessential

“One thing that I was always doing was putting an outfit together,” Baker said. “[With Quintessential] I wanted to curate spaces and experiences, whether that's through my website, events, fashion shows, or even if that's just through my designs, so people really feel comfortable in their authentic skin.” 

Baker, who began Quintessential at 17 years old, said that the idea of creating her own company was something she had always felt comfortable with because of her parents.

“I grew up with my dad who was an entrepreneur so the idea of starting a business was never too daunting,” Baker said. “My mom graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering so she always pushed my brother and me to just be advanced in those fields.”

Due to this parental influence, Baker’s passion for creative design grew stronger. Throughout her college experience, Baker’s accomplishments within these fields have further accentuated both her talents and innovation. 

“Last year, I created a digital capsule collection that was completely 3D rendered for a fabrication class that I was taking as a part of the major,” Baker said. “[From that] I created a Quintessential NFT and put it on the market. [I wanted] to integrate tech into the brand and really elevate the customer experience.”

Baker said that her unique identity as a Black, Filipino, and Puerto Rican woman has contributed to the unique variation of her company. 

“Everything I do draws from [my background] and I'm so inspired by my heritage,” Baker said. “There's a little bit of [my background] in everything that I design, and I wouldn't trade that for the world. I will never run out of inspiration.”

Baker, who continues to remain one of the few black women in creative design, has reinforced the idea of inclusion and diversity in the workspace. 

“I think I see such an opportunity for the black community to get into tech,” Baker said. “There's so much opportunity for design and black people are so creative. I want to be an example of being yourself as a [black] designer and still getting that bag.”

For her thesis, Baker will be creating augmented reality experiences with new designs to depict the integration of tech into fashion. After graduation, Baker will be working as a full-time experience designer with Johnson and Johnson. 

Baker said that she will continue to use her platform as a black creative designer to uplift the black community and encourage more diversity in the field. 

“Never stop being yourself,” Baker said. “We have so many creative ideas, we have so much creative inspiration. This world revolves around what black and brown women have done, whether that's beauty, design, or anything creative, and has always been inspired by the black woman's existence. Never let anyone dim your light.” 

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