All Articles Tagged "up against the wall"
by R. Asmerom
Design, outsourcing and marketing are key for any entrepreneur looking to get into the seemingly limitless fashion market. Mike “Black” Yussuf, the man behind the men’s fashion label Blac Label Premium figured that out long before he delved into the designer scene. Although he’s always had a strong interest in fashion, working as a financial analyst for Saks Fifth Avenue and Liz Clairborne gave him financial insight into product development and performance.
“All the different divisions had to provide detailed reports as to why their numbers were what they were and I would have to proofread them,” he said. “Those reports would show if tops were doing better, how DKNY Jeans were doing, why our denim sales were slowing down, etc, etc.”
Black left the corporate finance world in 2002 when he got the opportunity to work with Total Sport Inc., a Philadelphia-based retail chain founded by his friend Mike Harris. During his time as general manager, the company grew from 4 locations to 15 stores and 100 employees. The stint proved to be further training for his endeavor in the retail business.
“Total Sport Inc. had stores from New Jersey all the way down to Atlanta, and I got to see the different markets and how different things were operating in those markets,” he said. “I’ve worked in a number of the stores myself and actually got to interact with customers.”
His work with Total Sport Inc. led to consulting gigs with several companies including Headgear Inc, which was then manufacturing Negro league baseball jerseys and jackets and black college apparel, and which now owns retail chain Up Against The Wall.
In 2005, the idea of starting a fashion label was bubbling in his mind and Black knew he had to shift gears and cement his relationship with Headgear. His life-long interest in fashion design came to fruition when he presented the concept of Blac Label Premium and launched the brand under Headgear in 2006.