MN: How did you turn your customers into clients?
SW: I often say we follow our clients from obscurity to fame, from unsigned hype to mega stardom. Usher, Missy, Chris Brown and Mary J Blige have all been clients that we have worked with pre-stardom and still work with currently. We evolve with our clients…as they grow as artists to actors to spokespeople… and we dress them in all aspects of their lives from work to play … so we became a real authentic part of their brand by helping tailor looks that define them in so many ways.
MN: Are you planning to expand?
SW: We will continue to deliver our custom clothing designs to our excusive celebrity clientele as we celebrate our 20th year in business this year. We are currently designing a line of branded eyeglasses that speak to the same celebrity design sensibility of our tailored clothing. Guy and I are also opening a lifestyle store – Harlem Haberdashery in May 2012 that will have a small line of 5001 FLAVORS goods but will also feature other hip, cutting edge designers that have the same love and commitment to producing the cool and exclusive designs that we know our core customer wants.
MN: Tell us about Y.E.S:
SW: Y.E.S. is a volunteer and fundraising branch of Dress for Success Worldwide. Dress for Success is a wonderful not-for profit whose main goal is to advance low-income women’s economic and social development and to encourage self-sufficiency through career development and employment retention. An integral component of the organization is that women are suited in professional attire.
MN: What inspired you to get involved?
SW: It’s truly fashion with a purpose and I love this premise. But the organization also provides an extensive network of support and career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life. In addition, I think the organization speaks to the same concept that our custom clothing does… that you never get a second chance to make a first impression, you can actually “brand” yourself quite effectively with your look. My mom was actually a client and benefitted from the wonderful services for Dress for Success after being a stay-at-home mom for many years. Today she is Executive Asst to Joi Gordon, the dynamic Pres & CEO…
MN: Summing up, what type of advice would you offer those looking to follow in your “foot-steps”?
SW: This really is advice for anyone in business…not just “my” type of business. The best advice is to have a consistent and strong work ethic. Success is only achieved when you plow through failures to find solutions. Have a strategic plan but be flexible enough to alter, revise and re-evaluate as times, markets and trends change. Always be willing to learn new tasks and skill sets.
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