Archive for TBN Interviews

T.B.N Interviews: Tunji Alade III

Posted in T.B.N Interviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2014 by James Field

 

 

TUNJI_Promo5_x

 

Today I am please to welcome singer/songwriter Tunji Alade III to The Black Nouveau. We discuss his love of music, fashion, song writing and his plan to become the next great musical artist.

 

T.B.N– Welcome Tunji and thank you for taking the time to talk with me!Lets begin with your background, where are you from?

T.A– I am from Houston, Texas. My family is from Lagos, Nigeria, London and Guanajuato, Mexico. I also have family in Virginia and New York City.

T.B.N– Your music is a wonderful mix of sounds and you have a very captivating voice. Was music something that always aroused interest in you? How would you describe your music style?

T.A– Music has always been my first love. I’ve always been attracted to it and it has always been part of my desire, music makes me feel and inspires me. I won my first contest at age seven in a classical music competition. I was a runner-up and won a contest to visit this amusement park called Fame City.

I would describe my musical style as smooth, vibrant, fresh, bold and even raw. I’d say my music ranges from Hip Hop to smooth Rhythm and Blues, Soul, EDM, Acid Jazz and Jungle and House mixes. My music emanates from experiences, breakups to relationships, love and vice versa. I describe my music as a style that is…married to fashion, art and the club lounge experience.

T.B.N– How long have you been singing? Also you write your own music, what sort of challenges do you face when creating a new song?

T.A– I’ve been singing since I was thirteen and writing since I was seventeen. Thinking of a new song is like an idea, I can come up with hundreds of ideas just from the instrumental. People don’t want me to think of a new song, they want to see my live performance; they want to be able to connect with me and get to know me.

T.B.N– Share with us a little about your new album. What was the inspiration behind it?

2k

 

 

T.A– My album so far has eight songs. My EP with six songs was just leased through INgrooves Music, the back office of Universal Music Group.

My name is Tunji Alade, and my full name is Tunji Jemi-Alade III. Tungsten Light is sort of an anagram of my name, Tunji Alade. Essentially the tungsten light hue is only visible naturally at magic hour. The inspiration behind my album is to find hints and clues. Fate, paths, and destiny interconnected with people through the human experience and through music.

T.B.N– How do you see yourself and your music evolving within the next few years? What are your long term goals?

 T.A- I see myself evolving greatly. They say it is not where you’ve been but where you’re going. Right now, I’m affiliated with a company called Hotbox. Ironically, I see myself with a team that will tell me who that is. I’m not even being sarcastic. Seriously, I hired a manager not long ago and we almost signed a major deal and it sort of fell flat because attorneys from Warner Brothers called my managers office back and said that I am/was with attorney/client privileges. This was not too long ago and when I contacted Warner Brothers Music, no one knew who I was. It was kind of strange submitting my demo and getting calls back from Interscope, Sony then getting word from a manager that I hired saying that Warner Brothers contacted him and told his management office that I am with attorney/client. Having no documents signed, no official contract, no statements that told me it was official, nothing in writing to let me know what was going on was strange.

Even in retrospect for me to think of where I want to be its very clear because I was affiliated with a major studio in 2000. In 2002, my junior year in college, my university pulled me aside and told me that they had officially gotten word that my undergraduate work was created into a music video and was  broadcast on national television. Then all of a sudden in 2002, I had a million dollar offer for a property and a random phone call from a broker that told me she handled all my paperwork. Right when I was going to buy a 1.1 million dollar mansion, coincidentally, my off campus apartment flooded as a sick building with a sanitation problem of a flooding toilet; it became difficult and my university would not tell me what company contacted them to verify what company I was working for.

Being an underground artist or ghost writer, I see myself evolving with the right team. I want to formalize my contracts with the right team. I know about business, about knock-offs and the intricacies of trends, being a hot artist or an artist that has the new hairstyle, new digs, new style. And how to strive to for a level above that into a longevity hallmark level. Signing with the right major and formalizing the right deal in the right way so that there is no confusion if it is realistic and that it is literally legitimate. For me, my expectation is to move forward with a team that will give me full creative control and options to work with artists that I respect.

I am not trying to be any artist except me. My music is my voice. My music is married to fashion. I see my shows as being part high energy choreography and part runway show. My followers are affluent heads, people who love fashion, art and commerce. In the next few years, I see my album already published and licensed while working on a second and third follow-up album, acting in feature films and doing business with the most advanced marketing endorsers. I see myself immersed in the business and doing what I love.

Tuji 2

 

T.B.N– Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring singer/songwriters? Was there anyone that you admired growing up that inspired your interest in music, and how?

T.A– I was scouted by a major agency and won a modeling competition at age seventeen in High School and was not allowed to follow my path. I also was not allowed to play a musical instrument growing up. It can be very brutal, move masterfully, don’t let others who don’t care about your goals determine your rate of success. Make it happen.

When I was growing up I admired all kinds of music. I especially loved music in different languages from foreign countries. Then around 2006, music really started speaking to me in a special way, I started to really command on the Piano with a handful of songs I composed. Then, Tunechi came out and my friends started asking me if I could sing. I love music from Coltrane to Davis to Portishead to Massive Attack to Green Day, Niyaz, Maxwell, Timberlake, Timbaland, Alicia Keys, Jay Z and Beyonce. Any Grammy award winning artist or any artist under Berry Gordy or his understudy, Etcetera.

 

I would like to sincerely thank my good friend Tunji for this interview. Please visit Tunji below and take a listen of his truly unique and original sound.

www.Tunji-Alade.com

Thank you all for reading!

J.F

 

T.B.N Interviews: Lawrence Charles

Posted in T.B.N Interviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 8, 2014 by James Field

With every new year comes new beginnings. For myself and The Black Nouveau, I wanted to kick off my interviews section with a dynamic, entrepreneurial spirit that embodies the new energy that I wish to bring forth this year.

Enter Mr Lawrence Charles, CEO and Founder of the luxury tea company Charles & Company. He is a man of great character and perseverance, and he made his dream come true with true grit and determination. He talks to us today about his struggles growing up in the inner city with a single parent, modeling for one of the biggest names in Fashion, and ultimately creating the brand that bears his name.

T.B.N- Welcome Mr. Charles and thank you for taking the time to speak with me about Charles & Company. Let’s begin with a little background, where are you from?

L.C- I’m from Canton, Ohio. I grew up in the inner-city and was raised by a single mother. My grandmother and grandfather played an important role, but I did a lot of “self-parenting.” It was normal to do things like walk to school by myself in kindergarten, or have to make parent level decisions regarding my education, dealing with counselors, etc. I essentially escaped high school by the skin of my teeth. I wanted to attend college and double major in Industrial Design and International Economics or Finance.

Schools like Wharton made me salivate, but I finished high school with a 1.2 GPA. I found myself navigating a home life of both parents on drugs while fighting with my teachers and an education system that sorted me below my aptitude. I simply gave up fighting and just survived. Upon finishing high school I was able to get into college on my talent alone. I was off to Pittsburgh. I went to design school and studied Industrial Design with an emphasis on consumer product design and interactive software development. To get through school in Pittsburgh I lived in a homeless shelter. There, I learned how to play chess at the level of chess master. You’d be surprised who you may find in a homeless shelter, but being a kid there I was taken under the wing of some caring, brilliant people. There, I learned how fragile life is. I also learned to be present. I learned how to love, care for, and care about people from all walks and circumstances. To this day, although I’ve worked with Royalty, and extremely powerful people and celebrities, I believe that everyone is a dignitary. Everyone.

I finished school at the top of my class and was recruited by one of my professors to be a Head Designer on a start-up children’s television series. It went on to win 3 Telly Awards, beating juggernauts like Fox Kids and Disney. About this time was when Tommy Hilfiger came calling.

T.B.N- After reading your bio I can, on many levels, relate to your upbringing by a single parent in an urban and sometimes discouraging environment. Did that ever deter you from pursuing your dreams?

L.C- Yes I had challenges, but I think the question may have been more about did I feel challenged in my ability to achieve my dreams and goals. Every one of us has talents and fresh passion that helps us in pursuing our goals. But in coming from an urban environment, there’s generally no one there to help you understand the talent you possess. Nor are you just a parent, uncle, or sibling removed from seeing for example an attorney, a professor, an investment banker. I had to set out on a path of defining and understanding what these incredible gifts and talents God gave me were, and then how to use them and hone them. So, pursuing your dreams from there is somewhat of a long chartered flight.

T.B.N- Did you always have the entrepreneurial spirit, and when did it begin flourish?

L.C- Yes. In kindergarten through grade school I would auction off my “hand-me-down” toys to neighboring adults for their kids. In the 2nd or 3rd grade I was always building, constructing things out of paper or whatever spare parts I could find. I rarely built things for the norm, but rather the aberration. I was pioneering then. By 7 years old I stumbled across a flower factory in town that was constantly throwing out what I thought were perfect flowers. I came up with the idea to sell flowers in front of a busy bank on Fridays. Even at 7 I knew that was when everyone got paid. I had category pricing, meaning I would set prices by what I thought commanded more or less. I would also bundle deals, like purchase 2 for “X” price. By high school I started a neighborhood barbershop.

T.B.N- Your work as a model and spokesperson for Tommy Hilfiger must have been an exciting and memorable time in your life. Tell us the story of how that came to be?

L.C- While I was going to design school, I took advantage of the filming that was done in Pittsburgh and the different casting offices as well as modeling and I just turned my photo into as many places as I could. I was a “starving artist.” One day I received a call from Tommy Hilfiger NY that was left on my voice-mail at home. I almost lost my mind. That was a surreal moment. I did a show for Tommy and with Rebecca Romijn. That sent me to New York City and was the launch of my modeling career.

T.B.N- When did your love of Tea begin?

L.C- I began drinking tea while in New York City. New York is a non-stop, 24/7 city, but when I discovered tea I found that it had an almost magical ability to quiet and slow down the chaos of the city. I fell in love with the history of tea and how it was King Charles II that integrated tea in to the higher, social fabric of British society. How it was through the influence of his wife, and her use of it to socialize with family and friends.

T.B.N- What were some of the challenges you faced when launching the company?

L.C- Without question, capital. And I also had no idea what I was doing from the perspective of building a real, organized start-up company. I owned a bicycle, I had a backpack and all I knew was to take my tea to places I thought I could find people to buy my tea. I was literally selling tea on the streets.

T.B.N- What is your favorite tea to drink and why?

L.C- My favorite to drink is breakfast tea because I like that its complex, but I’m fond of its simplicity.

T.B.N- For those who are not aware, what are some of the many health benefits of drinking tea?

L.C- Tea is an amazing elixir that scientists are discovering new things about continuously. If you just take a look at white, green, oolong, and black tea, you will find things like Thiamine, which affect the brain and heightens mental alertness and concentration. Tea contains good antioxidants that thwart free radicals and slows aging. Outside of its ability to help you fight common colds, tea helps prevent cardiovascular disease and some cancers.

One of the most overlooked health benefits of tea is what it does for mental health. Just by sharing a cup with a friend or a neighbor or in your own solitude allows you to take a moment, slow down, stop thinking about the bills, the kids, etc. But it allows you to be present and pulls you out of the challenges of life. This is critical to your mental well-being.

T.B.N- What are some of Charles & Company’s bestselling teas?

L.C- It varies at times, but I would say our Indian Chai, White Blueberry Pomegranate, or Coconut Chamomile. Chai is in many ways the basis of Ayurveda. Our Indian Chai is very traditional, I use clusters of spices like cardamom, pieces of cinnamon, and ginger beautifully arranged in a deep, smoky Indian black tea. With our White Blueberry Pomegranate, to raise the antioxidant and vitamin C levels, I use freeze-dried blueberries and pomegranate that’s laid in a beautiful, open leafed white tea which gives it a deeper, richer brew. Our Coconut Chamomile begins with fresh, beautifully picked chamomile flowers, tossed in with delicious coconut meat and honey bush. I’ve been told by customers it’s so good, and that if you drink too much you’ll hallucinate. Those customers, I believe, may have been enjoying something else along with our tea.

T.B.N- What are some of your future plans for Charles & Company?

L.C- First of all, I listen to the pull of our customers. This is a great barometer as to where we will and can be. In addition, we have built up a ton of cachet that we will begin to slowly cash in on. Our customers have done us an incredible service by giving us the title “luxury.” For this I am deeply grateful. In being a luxury brand, we cater to lifestyle. We are currently in talks with a couple major department stores. We are already looking at expansion in Europe. Our customers have been asking for china, so we will be launching our line of tea ware and china soon. Our customers consider us the “Ralph Lauren of tea,” so I believe this gives us the ability to become a multibillion dollar brand. I’m excited about what’s ahead.

 

Kathy Eldon & Lawrence Charles

Kathy Eldon & Lawrence Charles

 

T.B.N- What advice would you give struggling entrepreneurs?

L.C –

· Be persistent.

· Be persistent.

· Be kindly persistent.

· By all means do what you say.

· By all means, follow through. It’s tough to have so much on your plate at once, so delays are understood, but by all means follow through.

· Following through builds trust.

· Get a financial adviser if you already don’t have one.

· Get a mentor too.

· Listen to your adviser (And learn through your own experience what advice is working. Don’t just think you’re right. Let go a little)

· Listen to your customer. Pursue what you deeply believe is the correct path, but they will ultimately show you the way.

· Learn how to grow with no capital. When you get capital, continue to be resourceful.

· Revenue is deceiving.

· By all means, find your “product-market-fit.”

· Once you have your product market fit, build your network of “strategic” advisers.

· Continually look at growth and how your company fits into this thought of growth.

· If you’re a millennial or generation X African-American, do not carry the weight of your parents, and do not be coerced to do so. Yes, racism still exists in parts. So what, it’s not the majority. As Maya Angelou said, ‘Pick up your crown and wear it!’

T.B.N- What do you love most about your job?

L.C- Building a brand is a magical experience. I love everything, especially the people and the relationships. We get to work with amazing people both famous and not famous. From HRH The Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson; Greta Garbo’s Estate; Diane Von Furstenberg’s Estate; to Jane Tranter, BBC Worldwide/The CW Network’s TV show “Breaking Pointe.”

T.B.N- Lastly, please give us some final words about Charles & Company and what you hope people will discover about your products.

Charles & Company Tea founded by Lawrence Charles brings to life the experience of traditional British Tea. The company was started to share the comfort, health, serenity, and togetherness that people experience while drinking tea. With a background as an award-winning Industrial Designer, CEO Lawrence Charles’ passion for creativity and elegance is present from the first step of selecting the leaves, to the last step of sharing Charles & Company Tea with the world. Charles & Company has signature blends you can learn about and purchase at www.cnctea.com

Thank you so much Lawrence for taking the time to inspire us all with your story and speaking for me, it was my pleasure. I look forward to hearing more about Charles & Company and I wish you much success on your future endeavors.

Like Charles & Company Tea on Facebook

Follow Charles & Company Tea on Twitter: http://twitter.com/charlesncompany

J.F

T.B.N Interviews: Chef Jack Lee

Posted in Nouveau Spotlight with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 3, 2013 by James Field
Chef Jack Lee

Chef Jack Lee

“You must have Passion, Dedication and Persistence”- Chef Jack Lee

I would like to begin by thanking Chef Lee for taking the time out of his schedule to answer a few questions about his dazzling work and exciting career as a celebrity Chef for the re-launch of my T.B.N Interviews segment.

The Black Nouveau is pleased to introduce Celebrity Chef Jack Lee.

Welcome Mr. Lee, I am honored to speak with you today….

TBN: Lets begin with your love of food, what sparked your fascination with it? Also share with us a little about yourself and your background. How did the Asian/French fusion style flourish into your trademark?

Chef Lee: I see food very differently. I want to honor each ingredient’s natural properties. I want to enhance the unique textures and colors. I believe the food we consume should be as much of a treat for the eyes as it is for the palate. I love dishes to be full of flavor, color and dimension so that you get drawn into each bite. Every bite should be a meaningful, lasting memory.

I came to the US from Vietnam when I was only 10 years old.  I always loved food but at such a young age, I didn’t understand it as a career option. I watched the TV show “Three’s Company” to learn English and I loved how funny Jack Tripper was. When I saw him become a chef, I realized I could become a chef, too. It became my job to cook for my entire family and eventually I started working in kitchens.

As I learned more, I realized I wanted to combine Eastern and Western culinary concepts. I drew inspiration from street food of the Far East and merged it with the elegant plating and presentation of French cuisine. This Asian French technique has become my signature style and I’m always looking at ways to elevate the beauty as well as the flavors of food.

TBN: You are known for creating vibrant and visually appealing dishes that are equally delicious, how important is the presentation to you? How important is color?

Chef Lee: I believe people eat with their eyes first, so good plating presentation is inviting the palate of that taster. It makes the eater anticipate and fantasize about the culinary adventure they will have with forthcoming meal.  Color enhances the taste, since we, as humans, use color to tell us about nutrition and if something is yummy.

Most people prefer eating vegetables that look green and crisp rather than yellowish-green and limp. The second option means all the nutrients have been cooked out and it won’t be fulfilling to eat. It may not be at the front of the brain, but on a deep level we all know that delicious food has certain vibrancy to it.

My presentation centers on five components: high quality protein that will look sexy on the plate, super healthy carb, organic vibrant vegetables, amazing sauce with depth of flavor that embraces the tongue, and beautifully designed garnish. Put all of that together on one plate and it practically dances before your eyes. It’s like food porn.

TBN: How does the inspiration process work for you? When you cook for your clients, many of whom have very high taste levels (Oprah Winfrey, Charlize Theron, Hilary Swank a few among a long list of illustrious names) is there a consultation process? Is a there a balance between what you wish to convey with your dishes, and what the client is requesting?

Chef Lee: Everyone tastes food differently, and a lot can be based on a person’s mood. When you’re in a blissful mood everything tastes good, similarly, when you’re depressed you don’t have appetite. So, I first start thinking about the emotional response I want the taster to have. I deal with clients that don’t just appreciate the Wow Factor, they demand it, so the food needs to excite and even seduce the eater. That’s the main balance that has to be met between myself and the client. This is also where colors and enhancement of the ingredient’s natural beauty starts to come in. It’s the first level of inspiration.

I also get inspired by the people whom I cook for. I often make a plate based on some one’s individual persona. I’ve even named these dishes after the person that inspired the dish. It might start with their favorite type of protein or vegetable, or be based on an item of clothing they wear, or be a place they love to travel. This personalize’s the culinary experience even more.

Chef Lee & Rebbie Jackson

Chef Lee & Rebbie Jackson

Chef Lee & Charlize Theron

Chef Lee & Charlize Theron

Chef Lee & Quincy Jones

Chef Lee & Quincy Jones

All of this lets me use food as my art and outward expression of my voice and vision.

TBN: What was it like when you began your tenure as The Banquet Chef at the prestigious and legendary, Hotel Bel Air?

Chef Lee: I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to work at a Five Star, Five Diamond hotel where we are trained to create gourmet cuisine: Presentation, Authenticity, and Flavors. The training process was hard and intense… and long hours of making garnishes. You have to have the passion in the kitchen or it won’t work. The dispassionate fail quickly in a kitchen like that.

TBN: What advice would you give aspiring culinary students with similar career aspirations?

Chef Lee: You must have Passion, Dedication and Persistence.

I applied to work with esteemed Executive Chef Humberto Contreras. I just wanted to learn from him. At first, he denied me, many times, thinking I didn’t have what it takes. I kept coming back til he finally gave up and started to see my passion and my dedication in culinary arts.

Then, I volunteered at Bel Air for a full year making garnishes 10 hours a day. It wasn’t easy for me, everyone asked me to quit and go home.  It would have been so easy just to walk away but I kept on fighting to stay and believing that all the hard work will pay off.  Which it did. I was hired and eventually became the Banquet Chef of Hotel Bel Air and that was the turning point of my career as a chef.

TBN: Lastly, where do you see yourself in your current career path? What goals would you like to accomplish? What dreams have you always hoped to achieve?

Chef Lee: My first day at CSCA (California School of Culinary Art) I dreamed of being on Food Network one day and I recently served as a guest judge for this season’s finale of “Rachael vs Guy: Kids Cook-off.”  I’m also on a forthcoming episode of Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen” which will air on October 27, 2013. So, many of my dreams are materializing.

I just wish to share my cooking passion and spread the love and food gospel to the World.

Thank you for your time today Chef Lee, it has been an absolute pleasure speaking with one of Hollywood’s most talented and esteemed Chefs.

Be sure to tune into Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen” airing October 27th.

I would like to sincerely thank Ms Joy Donnell at Do It in Public Los Angeles for making this interview possible.

ChefJackLee.com

J.F

T.B.N Interviews: Danny Wong

Posted in T.B.N Interviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 14, 2009 by James Field

Mens Fashion these days is becoming increasingly revolutionary and groundbreaking, with new silhouettes from designers such as Thom Browne and Phillip Lim, to the re-invention of stodgy english dress shoes, courtesy of Barker Black. Today we interview Danny Wong of Blank-Label.com, a Boston-based online mens clothing company, specializing in customizable and affordably cool mens design-it-yourself dress shirts. We ask Danny about his goals, inspirations and the Blank-Label customer, and how he feels mens fashion is truly changing.

Danny Wong Of Blank-Label.com

Danny Wong Of Blank-Label.com

T.B.N: So Danny, Blank-Label.com is your online men’s clothing shop, what drove you to create it?

Danny: Well, it all began with my love for fashion. I used to be a big street wear person when I first started my interest in fashion and style, and I used to rip holes into and splash paint on my jeans, and create designs for t-shirts. I was a Do It Yourself kinda guy. This year, I came upon Fan Bi, Blank Label’s CEO, who had an interesting opportunity at the company, which was selling custom men’s corporatewear at the time. I thought the concept was intriguing enough that I jumped on-board. Ultimately, the idea of selling custom suits and dress shirts wasn’t sexy enough for the company to continue moving forward. So Fan and I co-founded a new business, which is still known as Blank Label, but this time around we were producing custom men’s dress shirts. We fell in love with the idea of providing a custom product that was about customizing your own style. We created it because Fan and I consider ourselves trendy males, who are tired of paying overpriced “designers” to create shirts that we might not even like, or shirts that we kind of like, but notice there is one unbearable detail about the shirt that just ruins the whole piece! Blank Label solves the problem pain of going into a store and never finding something you like, or finding something you like, with that one detail missing. Another problem we wanted to solve for consumers was finding the RIGHT SIZE. With our online custom dress shirt shop, you can get the size YOU want, because every piece of product is individually made, never mass-produced, and we will ALWAYS have your size.

T.B.N: What do you love most about men’s fashion?

Danny: I love how simply complex it is. I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but that’s the best way to describe how amazing men’s fashion is! We don’t have as many crazy styles as women do, but we can amend very small details in our outfits to make them more exciting, more different.

T.B.N: What do you love most about what you do?

Danny: What I love most about what I do is being able to really affect an organization. I carry an anti-corporate sentiment in that I would rather be an entrepreneur and be an under 25 top-ranking officer in an organization over starting entry-level at a corporation and working 7 long years to climb the corporate ladder, before I can actually make a difference. I love having the power to make decisions, to be part of the decision-making process with my team members, and to see the fruits AND the horrors of my decisions. The positive results I create are certainly fulfilling, but I always learn the most from the terrible decisions I make, which provides for a steeper learning curve, allowing me to have exponential growth as a professional and a worker.

T.B.N: What or who motivates you?

Danny: What motivates me is the passion I have for Blank Label. I have adopted the business as my baby, and am giving my all to nurture it and watch it develop. I get out of it what I put into it, and the results are always 10-fold, even if the results do not come in the form of a heavy paycheck. What motivates me every day is being able to do something amazing with amazing people.

T.B.N: What was the hardest part about starting your label?

Danny: The hardest part about starting Blank Label was finding a great team to support the brand. Sure, we can have a great idea and a great business model, but ultimately, it comes down to execution. How can we get it done? Who can get it done for us? Finding the right people was hard, but we are confident we have a strong enough team to carry us through the new journey Blank Label is on.

T.B.N: What’s you favorite decade of men’s fashion?

Danny: I definitely have to say the 1960’s. Hippie fashion was AMAZING and revolutionary. Their style was one way of going against traditional conventions, and that’s what I’m all about: breaking rules, having no remorse, and just being a leader, especially in fashion.

T.B.N: Where is Blank Label based?

Danny: We are based right outside of Boston; our office is currently located in Wellesley, which is only 20 minutes from the city. Originally we spawned from Sydney, Australia and then set-up satellite offices in Boston and Atlanta, but are now only based in Boston.

T.B.N: Who is the Blank Label customer?

Danny: A trendy, fashionable male. He’s the guy that likes to look stylish and be his OWN person. He’s a trend setter, not a follower. He is creative with outfits, and sometimes likes to break conventions. Ultimately, I would identify our consumer as an Urban Outfitters, H&M, Zara, American Apparel shopper. Our consumer fits several profiles. He can be the guy with the cropped pants and boat shoes, the guy with skinny jeans and loafers, or the guy with straight leg ripped jeans and sneakers. He is a guy that cares about the clothes that he buys and certainly does NOT dress in the dark. He has a great appreciation that expensive does not necessarily mean fashionable, but can admire a nice leather messenger bag.

T.B.N: How do you separate your brand from other brands?

Danny: Blank Label is different from other brands because we really connect with our consumer. We’re a small business and are open to talking to our loyal customers. We’ve got a Twitter account and Facebook page if you don’t believe it! We won’t forward you to an offshore call center or create a robot to be able to properly respond to you. Also, we are the consumer that we are selling to. We shop at the same places you do, dress similarly, and style ourselves in ways that show our uniqueness.

T.B.N: What advice would you give future entrepreneurs and business owners?

Danny: Have the risk-tolerance to fight through the bad times to get to the good. But when the bad times come back around, don’t lose your cool and wimp out. Being an entrepreneur certainly doesn’t mean “getting rich quick and easy” or having an awesome business that just continues to see positive growth. Being an entrepreneur means long nights (it’s 4am right now as I am responding to these questions), hard mornings (I will be getting up in a few hours, if I decide to go to bed at all), and having hard brick walls constantly getting in the way. To be an entrepreneur you have to really have passion for what you are doing because if you don’t, then you won’t be successful. That’s one virtue in life and entrepreneurship. You cannot be truly successful at something if you are not truly passionate about it. Note that success is not measured in dollar ($) figures either.

T.B.N: Finally, in 5 years time what does the future look like for Blank-Label.com?

Danny: The future seems positive! 5 years is certainly a long time from now, especially since we are only a 1 year old company. But prospects for the future are confidential at the moment (sorry!), and they are certainly unclear as well. Who knows? Maybe we will get acquired by Limited Brands, which owns stores like Express and Victoria’s Secret. Or perhaps we will acquire the retail giant H&M. Who knows? (Acquiring H&M is a lofty goal, we know!)

Lastly, please feel free to check out Blank Label’s website now to get 20% off your first purchase by signing up before they officially launch on Oct 30th! Then stay tuned for their new website launch on Oct 30th, which will include a customizable dress shirt application which will allow you to design your own dress shirt.

You can find a few of Danny Wong’s fashion musings on Blank Label’s Men’s Fashion Blog and he can be reached via Twitter at @dannywong1190.

Thank you so much for your time Danny.

By: James Field for The Black Nouveau