First of all, I’d love to hear how you got started. How did you first get into fashion?
I’ve been groomed for this industry since I was a child, I was inspired by what I’d like to say were the influencers of my time growing up. The streets of Harlem, NY was the social media of my time, the stylish Women and Men were the ones everyone wanted to follow. People traveled from all over the world to experience Harlem Style.
What did you do before your fashion career? Why did you decide to switch gears?
This isn’t my first business; in 2002 I founded a portable toilet company. I was the only minority owned business vendor in the tri-state area, which is New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, and if you understand the ecosystem of this kind of service, you’ll know this was an extraordinary accomplishment for me as a business owner.
I sold the company in 2014. Frankly, it was a lucrative but messy business to be in, and I had begun forming the beginnings of four of my other ventures, DDW Drug Testing Company, Harlem Crime Scene Cleanup, Hollingsworth Wine, and Hollingsworth Sole. I was intentional in establishing diverse ventures in business.
Are there any challenges you’ve faced as Black male in fashion
Unfortunately, in my experience I’ve found there are far too many industry gatekeepers. The insiders that you’d think would be willing to crack the door open a little to make a way for you, surprisingly aren’t for creating opportunities for those outside of the ecosystem. There’s no rule that dictates that high-end brands and brand experiences are European in origin. I’m presenting a creative direction inspired by a rich heritage, A Harlem experience. You can’t give up.
Could you tell me more about your business strategy? How did you know where to start?
I didn’t. I didn’t have a strategy. I just knew I needed to share my POV on Black culture. I felt that today’s Harlem did more following then setting creative points of view and trend. In that time of my founding the business, and where I am today, I obviously was challenged with the learning curve of understanding customers and the process. Hollingsworth Sole was founded as a Shoe Company, that’s who we are today. We’re a luxury shoe brand that’s expanded into adjacent categories. My first move was prayer, which led me to researching supply chain. I learned the initial process of launching a line, and from that point I jumped on a flight to Italy to meet with manufacturers. I designed and launched 15 styles of shoes and at that point, I had gained a tremendous amount of knowledge, but a chance meeting at a bar during one of my sourcing trips introduced me to a greater opportunity which was supply chain in the country of Brazil. That’s when Hollingsworth Sole gained momentum.
How do you hope your talks and social media will impact your viewers?
I want to inspire people to become capable, to know that they can execute on their dreams. That idea you have can become reality if you do the work. And obviously I want to drive sales. I want more people to know about Hollingsworth Sole.
Do you have any advice for other people in the space that want to turn their passion into a career?
Don’t let anyone deter you from what you believe in. If you have a passion, pursue it. Don’t give up.