Art Meets Fashion, and Creates Entrepreneurial Success
By Hannah Molette
Some say fashion is the “sophisticates” way of communicating their grandiose ambitions to the world. President and CEO Sharene “Shay” Wood of 5001 FLAVORS states that the company “is the fusion of fashion, sports and popular entertainment culture.” Along with her business partners, husband Guy Wood and Bernard Barnett, they have been influencing the entertainment world with their custom-made designs.
5001 Flavors has uniquely designed clothes to fit entertainment wonders such as Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez, Jamie Foxx, Lebron James, Queen Latifah, and Jay Z with finesse and couture. With a client-centered focus fit to lifestyle, the 5001 Flavors clothing brand adds the element of luminosity to an artist’s reputation. Success was built on the brands ability to match personality to evolutionary appeal. Beyond the exclusive entertainment industry 5001 Flavors caters to clientele from all walks of life.
It all began in 1990, while still attending Columbia University, “Shay” as she is known by with her keen business sense and love of fashion teamed-up with talented designer Guy Wood to create 5001 FLAVORS. Madame Noire spoke exclusively with Mrs. Wood to get her insight on the fashion industry, working with A-list clients, which to note can be some of the hardest to please, and still finding business success.
MN: How did you know that you wanted to go into business for yourself?
SW: I have always known that I wanted to work for myself. I have always felt that being a business owner would give me the most control over what type of life that I and my family would have.
MS: What do you mean when you speak about freedom? In your own words, how would you define it?
SW: The freedom of working for yourself to me is the right to control your own destiny, make your own economy and set your own hours. You works so much harder when you work for yourself but, the reward is all yours. What you put in …you will surely get out. I knew that I would never be paid as much as I felt my services would be worth if I worked for someone else. I knew that the best life that I could have or my family could have would come when I created it. You can decide when and how hard you are going to work.
MN: How did you come up with the name for your business?
SW: My business partner and now my husband, Guy Wood, came up with the name. In the nineties we used to say Audi 5000… it was a cool catchy phrase. Guy just put a spin on it …added a one to 5000 to indicate the unlimited diversity of our style, designs, and flavors. We wanted a name that would speak to the versatility of our creativity and diverse customer base.
MN: What’s in the 5001 Flavors brand?
SW: I feel our brand is just as much about the exclusive image consulting service we provide as well as the actual custom made clothing we produce. Helping our artists, athletes and other clients to define, redefine and update their look is an extremely important job. So yes we create custom clothing but I also feel like we help our clients create a legacy that will live forever. Ultimately our custom clothing becomes part of history … caught in all the great images used for album covers, movie posters, billboards, book covers, magazines…etc.
MN: What were you doing before you got in the fashion business?
SW: When we started the business in 1992. I was a junior in college at Columbia University. We started it out of my dorm room. I was working as an Administrative Asst at a management consultant firm in midtown putting myself through college.
MN: What do you love about fashion the most?
SW: I love that fashion is an expression of who you are and even who you just want to be. I love that fashion is constantly evolving as we all are.
MN: What would you say has been the “success” factor in growing your business?
SW: The exclusive clothing apparel that we design and manufacture for our various celeb clients is so important to our client’s image and branding. We take great pride that our clothing becomes part of pop culture influencing trends and motivating markets. Our clothing will forever appear in images of our iconic clients that appear in every type of medium possible. On Chris Tucker as he danced to a MJ tune in Rush hour… On the cover of Newsweek on The Rev. Al Sharpton for a cover story … On the first CD cover of Missy Elliott, the most prolific female producer ever … On the many characters portrayed by Lebron James in his award-winning Nike ad campaign The Lebrons … In The Rock N Roll Hall of Fame in an exhibit that illustrates the cultural importance and influence of Hip Hop on Main Stream American fashion… I think our success factor is that our services help define our clients…the never-ending personalities of our celebrity clients always need someone to help tell their story. We have done it so well and are referred to other clients that need that same, dependable, reliable and quality service. Our business is strictly referral based so a great job on set means referrals from all of the industry professionals there for their own future upcoming projects. For us, that has always meant every photographer, label art director, artist management, assistant; even the intern on set is a potential referral. For instance, Interns easily become the next mogul! We meet Sean “Puffy” Combs (now P. Diddy) when he was an intern working for Andre Harrell at Uptown Records. He soon left and started his own label – Bad Boy Entertainment. And a new roster of clients emerged from that existing relationship.