MN: What major obstacles did you face?
RL: The biggest obstacles I face are with time and organization. There are so many things that are time sensitive. I had to learn to develop a system and create lists. I base each list on what needs to be done today, within a week and in the future. I look over them on a regular basis to make sure as new opportunities come our way, we are not falling behind or missing out on anything great.
MN: Change the Definition, LLC is an apparel line with a philanthropic twist, but to some critics, it’s just another t-shirt line. What made you decide to go into the saturated apparel/t-shirt market?
RL: I have never heard anyone criticize what we are doing. We are making a real difference in peoples lives. A measurable difference. This school year I have worked with a kid that has been held back two times already and he’s only in the 1st grade. He has not ever been able to read even simple words until this year. I am proud to say that Jaylen can now pick up a book and read it! If he doesn’t know words, he sounds them out and tries. He will now be able to move forward getting his education with confidence! Jaylen is in a program that is supported by Change The Definition with funding and volunteer work. That is what its all about for all of us! If anyone has a problem with that, there is something terribly wrong! We offer products that are stylish and T-shirts and accessories are a creative way to make a statement about what you stand for.
MN: Do you think that the business is sustainable? Will people buy your product based on the mission you’ve set forth?
RL: It is our goal to change the way the urban community thinks about buying. We offer positive urban wear and we benefit OUR OWN community. We invest in ourselves. We inspire people to do better and be better. People buy our product because WE are passionate about our Mission. THEY are passionate about our mission and our products are super fashionable. Yes, it is definitely sustainable. Who doesn’t want to help kids be great readers?
MN: Did you get an investor before launch? If not, are you considering going that route now?
RL: Right now that is not on the radar. I am trying to build from the ground up. Grow organically. We recycle money back into the company, continue to support the non-profits and think of creative new ideas to get folks excited about us. Our current Global Power T-shirt continues to sell out. Every time that happens it reminds us of what a great thing we are doing and motivates us to do more.
MN: Who/what is your biggest inspiration?
RL: My biggest inspiration is love. I learned to do everything incorporating love and I cant go wrong. When I do that, amazing things happen and it helps me and the business to grow. I make a point to surround myself with people of like minds. Other entrepreneurs, other givers, other folks that are doing what they love. They inspire me with creative ideas, with the motivation and determination to be great!
MN: Do you have a mentor or someone that you turn to for advice?
RL: Yes, definitely! I have 4 mentors. Two whom have been very successful in the apparel industry. One cofounded an instantly recognizable name brand. And two are life & business mentors, Bob & Vanessa, a married couple. They are a great example for me and help me to look at life in a different way than I have in the past. I have become more successful in my thinking and become more intelligent as a result of being around them. Their perspective has helped me to grow in many ways. Vanessa is one of the only women I can see myself being like in the future, continually educated, healthy and pursuing her passion. I definitely recommend that no matter what industry you are in you find someone who is where or has been where you want to be and ask them to mentor you.
MN: What advice would you give someone looking to break into the fashion industry?
RL: Find what you love to do? Ask yourself “Would I do this for free?” If the answer is yes, do that! I also think that you have to be a bit different from your competitors but to be sustainable, classic also.