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Fashion

14 mins read

Fashion Attorney: Brand Partnerships, Fashion Law & Protecting Your Work From Copycats

The internet age has exacerbated many of the legal issues that creators and fashion companies encounter, fueling the necessity for specific legal advice and protection.

For example, design piracy and copycat litigation have grown in recent years, prompting new legislation that provides legal protection for fashion designs.

We decided to get in touch with a legal expert to shed light on these issues and others facing those involved in the creator economy.

Ashley N. Cloud, Esq., MBA is the Founder and Principal Attorney of The Cloud Law Firm, PLLC based in Brooklyn, New York.

fashion law
Ashley N. Cloud, Esq., MBA

What inspired you to become a lawyer?

My mother was the first person to suggest I become a lawyer. My mom was super strict, so I was always advocating for myself to hang out with my friends on the weekends for longer than 2 hours at a time. We would have full-on debates and I’d write her letters with carefully crafted arguments. I was relentless.

Although I was very convincing, most of the time, my mom’s answer was usually still “no,” but she figured I would be able to help others with my talents. Once my mom gave me the idea of being a lawyer, it just made sense. I’ve never been one to accept the status quo. I’ve always been quick to point out unfairness and injustices and I never shy away from the opportunity to help those in need.

Black women only make up 2% of the legal profession. The road has not been easy, but it has been more than worth it. Representation matters and I know the work that I do greatly impacts my community. It brings me so much joy to be a voice for the voiceless and to empower and educate people who look like me.

I am so thankful and honored to do this work. I have so many ideas of how I can continue to be a positive force in this world and I am just getting started!

What should creators include in brand partnership agreements?

Usually, creators are presented with brand partnership agreements, so there are a few clauses they should always be on the lookout for. They include but are not limited to Compensation, Deliverables, Exclusivity, Termination, and Disclosures.

Compensation is important for obvious reasons – you want to make sure you are aware of what you will be paid, any conditions associated with payment, and when you should expect your payment. With respect to deliverables, you want to make sure you understand what the brand expects to see from you and make sure what you create is aligned with their requirements. There will likely be an approval process that you will want to make sure you are compliant with as well.

Oftentimes, brands will require you to work with them exclusively for their respective industry. For example, if you work with one shoe company, you may be restricted from working with other shoe companies during the term of your agreement. Pay attention to the length of the agreement and under what conditions you or the brand may terminate the agreement; including any morality clauses.

If you are a content creator, you’ll also want to pay attention to any disclosure requirements, as the Federal Trade Commission requires you to disclose your relationship with any brands you promote. You can check out some helpful guidance on the FTC’s guidelines here.

Kim Kardashian was recently ordered to pay over $1 million for violating the FTC’s rules, so you’re going to want to pay attention to this!

In any case, you will want to read your contract, ask questions if you don’t understand something, and remember to know your worth! Advocate for what you want if you are unhappy with the terms of your agreement.

If you are unsure if the partnership is right for you or if you still don’t understand the implications of the terms of your agreement, I suggest you reach out to an attorney you trust to assist you.

What are some common misconceptions in fashion law?

One of the biggest misconceptions about fashion law is that it’s all about intellectual property. Sure, intellectual property is one exciting facet of fashion law, but there is so much more to fashion law than just intellectual property.

Fashion is a multi-billion-dollar industry. It can be glamorous, but like any other industry, fashion is a business. Aside from intellectual property, fashion law includes, business law, contract law, labor and employment law, real estate law, international law, e-commerce law, privacy law, supply chain law, technology law, consumer protection law, environmental law, and so much more! The law really touches every aspect of a fashion business.

As the creator economy grows, what types of legal matters do you foresee arising?

There are more and more creators entering the marketplace now that the barrier to entry is lower and consumers are more accessible. The major legal matter I can see growing in popularity is the world of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), blockchain, and the Metaverse.

Because the law hasn’t quite caught up with this facet of fintech and intellectual property, I am interested to see what types of precedents are established to help further guide creators and attorneys in this space.

What are some recent lawsuits in the fashion world that you find interesting? That designers can learn from?

Recently, Skechers USA Inc. filed a lawsuit against Hermès International and Hermès of Paris, Inc. for patent infringement in relation to its Massage Fit sole technology. This case excited me because it is the perfect example of properly policing and enforcing your intellectual property rights.

Skechers has gone after brands for a similar infringement. With the popularity of the thicker, chunky shoe sole emerging in recent years, it will be up to the courts to decide if Hermès infringed on Skechers’ patents or if the company is simply hopping on a popular trend not originated by Skechers.

fashion law
CREDIT: UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK

Another case that stands out and is not fashion-related but falls more within the realm of entertainment, is the lawsuit recently lodged by, Goldenvoice, the company responsible for the popular U.S. music festival, Coachella, against Afrochella, a popular Ghanaian music festival. Allegedly, Afrochella has infringed on Coachella’s trademark and goodwill in the promotion of Afrochella.

There are arguments on both sides on whether Afrochella should be held liable for infringing on Coachella’s trademark. One argument is that Afrochella specifically identified its own festival as being inspired by Coachella, which some say creates an unauthorized affiliation between the brands.

Another argument is that Afrochella is only held in Ghana and should be permitted to use its name since the company does not currently host its festival in the United States. I am interested to see how the courts decide this case or if the brands will be able to come to an amicable settlement.

How can smaller designers protect their work from being copied?

Formal intellectual property protections of fashion designs (i.e. the shape, style, or cut of a garment) are virtually unprotected. However, there are a few ways you can protect certain aspects of your work as a fashion designer. One way is that you can protect an original print, pattern, or sculptural adornment that is included on a garment through copyright protection. You can also protect certain types of creations through a design or utility patent.

Additionally, you should protect your brand through trademark and trade dress protection. Another way of protecting your designs is through the contracts you draft and sign in partnership with others. For example, you can require the manufacturer of your designs to sign a non-disclosure and non-compete agreement so they don’t disclose your design to another brand or try to replicate your design by creating a knock-off of their own. If they do, you may be able to recover damages for violating your contract and the sales associated with doing so.

I also suggest designers use the power of their communities to fill in the gaps where the law falls short. When you see another designer or brand copy your design, let it be known via social media. It’s a lot less expensive and you may be able to resolve the dispute a lot quicker than suing in court.

 

Ashley hails from Houston, Texas, and is a proud graduate of Howard University School of Law and School of Business. Ashley is licensed to practice law in New York, Texas, and the District of Columbia. Follow Ashley at @cloudesq  and @thecloudlawfirm, @cloudesq and @yourfashionattorney for updates. You can also visit www.thecloudlawfirm.com for more information.

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4 mins read

10 Black Designers at New York Fashion Week 2022

New York Fashion Week kicked off on Friday, Sept. 9th. The September shows are always eagerly anticipated, and after several virtual and hybrid seasons, the New York calendar is more packed than it has been in a while, with designers eager to showcase their best work and the city aiming to reclaim its position as a leader in the global fashion industry.

Reportedly, Black designers make up more than twenty-five percent of the runway shows at this year’s New York Fashion Week.

Meet some of them below.

Black Designers at NYFW 2022

June79

June79 is the new standard of menswear, reframing and redefining the new standard of luxury, existing between the fine balance of work performance and luxury leisure. June79 is founded on the premise of the new luxury renaissance, from quality and craftsmanship to mentality and style.

black designers

Junny

JUNNY is a former ESPN sales executive who discovered her passion for designing after getting downsized from her position 6 years ago. Her collections are bold, creatively exuberant, and size-inclusive, drawing on the vibrancy of her Harlem and Jamaican cultural roots. Her collections have often been described as “wearable art.”

Ashya

ASHYA’s (pronounced “agh-shya”) vision is rooted in travel, cultural awareness, and unifying style and utility. Ashley Cimone and Moya Annece developed the brand as an “ode to exploration.” They design for simple movement and essentialism, inspired by worldwide Black, Brown, and Indigenous populations and transient modern existence.

Kimberly Goldson

Kimberly Goldson is a Brooklyn-based, sister-crafted, luxury-driven contemporary womenswear brand centered around women’s suiting.

black designers

Black Boy Knits

Black Boy Knits (BBK) is an independent design studio that emphasizes Black, queer and immigrant narratives while highlighting its contributions on a global perspective. As a design studio, BBK centers on creating unique pieces on a made-to-order basis.

Marrisa Wilson

MARRISA WILSON is built around the philosophy that all women should be able to effortlessly express their unique personalities. With a focus on quality and functionality, and a colorful, optimistic aesthetic, the brand is an extension of founder and creative director Marrisa Wilson’s personal belief that high-end fashion can still be attainable and inclusive.

black designers

Studio One Eighty Nine

Studio One Eighty Nine is an artisan-focused brand based in Ghana and the United States. All Studio 189 clothing is produced in Africa in craftsmen communities that specialize in traditional textile techniques, such as hand-printing batik patterns and using plant-based dyes.

Todd Patrick

Todd Patrick is a luxury menswear brand that focuses on how the past shapes the future. The brand has carved out a niche lane for the mid-century modern man of today’s time. Each piece translates fabric to conversation.

Connor McKnight

Connor McKnight is a luxury fashion brand based in Brooklyn, NY established during the pandemic. With this collection, he explored his relationship to this practice of daily work, emphasizing craft and utility with refined timeless silhouettes to be worn for a lifetime. All designs are suggestions of ideas that we see in everyday life adjusted to create an abnormality.

Victor Glemaud

Haitian-American designer Victor Glemaud launched his eponymous designer collection of statement knitwear, designed for all people, genders, races, sizes, and personalities, marrying comfort and style.

-Tony O. Lawson

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5 mins read

Black Owned Abroad: Michelle is Empowering Black Fashion Designers in Italy

Michelle Ngonmo is the creator of Afro Fashion Week Milan, an annual event that presents leading and emerging collections by Black designers.

The mission is to showcase the diversity of styles, celebrate their creators, and encourage investment in Black creators. Afro Fashion Week also hosts workshops, exhibitions, and social events, involving photographers, bloggers, and influencers.

In this interview, Michelle tells us more about her business and her life in Italy.

Afro Fashion Week
Michelle Ngonmo, creator of Afro Fashion Week Milan

What inspired you to start Afro Fashion Week?

Growing up in Italy, I never felt the country fully acknowledged its history of exclusion, as well as its colonial history in Africa (i.e., in Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Libya). This might explain its resistance to migration and to imagining itself as pluricultural.

I founded Afro Fashion Week because the general media and fashion industry weren’t reflecting the society I lived in.

In Italy there are more than one million people of colour; you have many Black Italians, and I had seen firsthand the fashion and creative talents that Black designers brought to the table.

However, there weren’t the same opportunities for them when it came to representation, mentorship, or career potential. 

Afro Fashion Week

What is the “Unseen Profiles” project?

When I was in university, I was the student body president of my city. During that time, I formed relationships with a lot of students and former students of colour that  studied specific courses in school, but were doing something completely different as work.

This was because they were unable to land interviews for jobs in their actual field of study. So, they finished school and ended up doing something different because of course one has to pay bills.

It was from this moment that I began to realize that something wasn’t right and that these people, these CV’s(resumes) , were actually invisible to society. It was like they didn’t exist.

I got the idea to call the project ‘Unseen Profiles’ because there are always those that are on the surface, but there is so much more that lies beyond that. So, in collaboration with Vogue Italia, I launched “The Unseen Profiles”, a platform that connects professionals of color in Italy directly with local and international companies across all industries including Fashion, architecture, sports, engineering, maintenance, tourism, and much more.

What do you enjoy most about living in Italy?

There are so many reasons to love Italy: its food, wines, language, architecture, design, history, landscapes, beaches… the list is endless… Italy is HOME even if someone thinks it’s not or that I don’t belong here! 

What are some challenges you’ve faced as a business owner?

Being undervalued because of my skin tone and because I’m a woman is routine! The biggest struggle I had to face during my journey is being underestimated.

Being Black and a woman in a white and mainly male chauvinist society can be a great disadvantage. Usually, people undervalue my level of education and experience.

They often that believe my objective information or analysis is not based on deep research of the sector in which I am specialized. In the course of time, experience has taught me to simply ignore that and focus on my work.

What are your thoughts on diversity in the fashion industry?

Do you mean real diversity or tokenism? (LOL). After the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, the fashion industry vowed that there would be a change. We are in 2022 and yet, we still have a long way to go.

I know we can’t pretend that things can change in one day, but, I’m noticing that in 2020, the fashion industry was moved and keen to bring some changes to the table, but now it seems like the topic is become less important and than there are other trends to follow.

Most in the fashion industry still need to understand what diversity REALLY means. Fortunately, a few are really open and seeking collaborations, and comprehension to build a solid and better workplace and opportunity for all.

Tony O. Lawson

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4 mins read

Tradeblock, a Black Owned Sneaker Trading Platform Just Raised $9 Million

Tradeblock, a Black owned sneaker trading platform has raised over $8.9 Million dollars in funding from investment partners Courtside VC, Trinity Ventures, and Concrete Rose Capital.

From its humble beginnings in 2020, with just 300 users and just under 5000 shoes, Tradeblock has experienced exponential growth in its 2 years of operation, amassing more than 1 Million shoes listed in users’ virtual closets this year.

The monumental growth of the online marketplace can be attributed to the platform’s unique consumer experience that was key in the vision of making Tradeblock a reality.

Co-Founder and CEO Mbiyimoh Ghogomu, along with Co-Founders Darren Smith and Tony Malveaux, sought out to bridge the gap for passionate collectors who were losing the battle against bots on sneaker drops and those who cannot afford rapidly increasing resale prices; increases that are largely driven by resellers cornering the market on popular shoes for the sole purpose of profits.

Tradeblock will use the proceeds from the financing round to help further invest in growth in its sneaker business as well as expanding and improving its one-of-a-kind authentication and logistics operation, which involves inspecting and authenticating shoes from both sides of the trade simultaneously in a complex and highly-interconnected process.

Additionally, Tradeblock will be investing in more data science capabilities to enhance the customer experience as it continues to define the virtual bartering experience by developing the marketplace further.

The funding raised within this round brings Tradeblock closer to its north star of providing accessibility in the resale market for those who should not let high and unjust prices define the attainability of their dreams and culture and also of ensuring that the marketplace offers the best in class services for its members.

Tradeblock is also driven by a deep passion for building a company that actually resembles the people it serves. “Black and brown communities have always been the backbone of the sneaker industry and sneaker culture,” says Co-Founder and CEO Mbiyimoh Ghogomu. “Showing those folks that they can be the owners and operators of this industry as opposed to just consumers is both a point of pride and a deeply rooted responsibility for everybody at Tradeblock.”

The Tradeblock team embodies this sentiment of representation within their workforce: besides having three Black founders, Tradeblock’s workforce is more than 80% BIPOC, and the senior leadership team is over 75% BIPOC.

Tradeblock | Secure Sneaker Trades

The marketplace is set for a rolling close to end their Seed II round and is expecting an additional $4.5 Million in investment by the end of it. Tradeblock aims to redefine the basis of sneaker culture by focusing on their pillars of community, accessibility and sustainability.

The mission and vision resonate with the public and trumpet the goal of leveling the playing field for the BIPOC community who has played a tremendous role within the culture that is the foundation of the sneaker industry.

“Tradeblock is revolutionizing the way forward for the new emergent asset class of footwear. The founding team’s understanding of the nuances of culture and tech gives them an unfair advantage in the industry and the team’s desire to lead with inclusion, representation, and authenticity also provides them with unique and meaningful organic engagement,” says Tradeblock angel investor Jason Mayden, a former Nike and Jordan footwear designer who now serves as President of Fear of God Athletics.

The marketplace’s continual growth goes to show the long lasting impact it will have within the sneaker industry for years to come.

Tony O. Lawson

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1 min read

ZAAF Founder Abai Schulze on Building a Global Lifestyle Brand

Abai Schulze is the Founder and Creative Director of the ZAAF Collection, an internationally recognized premium lifestyle brand made entirely in Africa.

Abai Schulze

ZAAF is developing long-term growth opportunities across Africa, partnering with skilled artisans to develop high-end designer products.

ZAAF’s creativity has been recognized in various ways ranging from appearing on runways at New York Fashion Week to being featured in Elle and Vogue, to receiving the UNESCO Tremplin Prize for Entrepreneurship.

ZAAF products are now being carried in boutiques in France, Nairobi, Ethiopia, and the USA.

Abai Schulze

In this interview, Abai shares:

  • The creative inspiration behind her product designs.
  • The challenges associated with operating a business on multiple continents.
  • Her strategy for building a team of 20 employees.
  • He thoughts on the increased appreciation for products made in Africa.
  • What entrepreneurial skill she would love to master in 24hrs.
  • Sourcing materials from multiple African countries.
  • Advice for new and aspiring designers.

Tony O. Lawson

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4 mins read

5 Global Trends Affecting the Fashion Industry

Fashion trends continue to evolve and change daily. A major key to being successful in the fashion industry is to identify these trends and act on them before your competitors. However, many fashion companies find it difficult to do this since they may not have a good understanding of the global trends affecting their industry. The revenue of the global apparel market for 2021 was estimated to be around 1.5 trillion USD, and it was expected to rise to about 2 trillion by 2026. The industry is quickly moving towards growth while these trends are still evolving. If you want

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3 mins read

Black-Owned Jewelry Brands to Add To Your Collection in 2022

As anyone who loves fashion knows, jewelry is the perfect way to add a little personality to any outfit. Whether you prefer dainty or bold statement pieces, there is a jewelry brand that suits your style.

These Black-owned jewelry brands are a great way to add some unique and stylish pieces to your collection. Whether you’re looking for something flashy or understated, there’s a brand with precisely what you need.

So go ahead and add one (or all!) of these fantastic brands to your list, and enjoy the added confidence and beauty that their jewelry provides.

Black-Owned Jewelry Brands

Afro Deco

Handmade pieces by British jewelry designer and visual artist Natasha Lisa. Operating under the name Afro Deco, Natasha channels the stylistic influences of Art Deco and the vibrant patterns of African fabric in her diverse range of afrofuturist-themed Lucite designs.

 

YAM

Yam is a made to order, handmade jewelry brand based in Queens, NY. The brand is dedicated to creating new, yet nostalgic pieces through up-cycled materials and vintage silhouettes. Designs incorporate classic and industrial hardware elements, complimented with cheeky and charming nature motifs and pearl accents.

Jooel

Black owned jewelry brands

Jooel was born out of a desire to curate timeless luxury jewelry pieces for every wardrobe. With a careful blend of trendy and classic pieces, Jooel offers something for everyone. Whether you’re a bling queen or prefer understated lux, Jooel has something for you.

Leliamae

black owned jewelry

Leliamae is a New York-based, woman-run jewelry brand that strives to balance integrity and unique style. The artist behind the brand, Lelia, sources quality gold materials that are ethically produced and made to elevate your everyday collection.

HOME by Areeayl

black owned jewelry brands

Each Beads Byaree piece is created with a focus on quality and attention to detail. The results are beautiful, one-of-a-kind pieces that are sure to make a statement. Whether you’re looking for a unique gift or a treat for yourself, Beads Byaree has something for everyone.

Third Crown

The husband-and-wife team behind Third Crown aims to celebrate the merging of two forces coming together to form something new – a powerful pair. They fuse their love of geometric shapes with the details found in their architectural surroundings to create their collection of men’s and women’s jewelry.

ALMASIKA

black owned jewelry brands

ALMASIKA makes fine jewelry that tells stories across generations and cultures. The sculptural designs are handcrafted using precious metals and shimmering gems. Pieces include the debut ‘Le Cauri Endiamante’ collection – inspired by the rich history and symbolism of cowrie shells – as well as newer styles from the ‘Sagesse’ range, which explores ancient motifs associated with traditional wisdom.

 

-Tony O. Lawson

 


1 min read

Virgil Abloh, Famed Fashion Designer, Dies At 41 After Cancer Battle

Virgil Abloh, the highly influential fashion designer, founder of Off-White and the Men’s Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton, died this afternoon.

The 41-year-old had cardiac angiosarcoma, a rare, aggressive form of the disease, according to an announcement on his official Instagram page.

“We are devastated to announce the passing of our beloved Virgil Abloh,” it said. “He chose to endure his battle privately since his diagnosis in 2019, undergoing numerous challenging treatments, all while helming several significant institutions that span fashion, art, and culture.

“Through it all, his work ethic, infinite curiosity, and optimism never wavered. Virgil was driven by his dedication to his craft and to his mission to open doors for others and create pathways for greater equality in art and design. He often said, ‘Everything I do is for the 17-year-old version of myself,’ believing deeply in the power of art to inspire future generations.”

Born on Sept. 30, 1980 in Rockford, Ill. to Ghanaian immigrant parents, Abloh studied civil engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, receiving a bachelor’s degree in 2002, and went on to earn a Master of Architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 2006.

Following his education, Abloh met rapper Kanye West, who would become one of his first major collaborators in the creative world.

Virgil Abloh is survived by his wife Shannon Abloh, his children Lowe and Grey,  his sister Edwina Abloh, and his parents Nee and Eunice Abloh.

8 mins read

ArtistsUntold, a Black Owned Clothing Brand that Empowers Black Artists

ArtistsUntold is a Black owned clothing brand that fuses art and fashion. The online retail platform provides up-and-coming Black artists with the opportunity to promote and monetize their artwork through apparel and fine art sales.

We spoke with co-founder, Jordan Abdur-Raoof to find out more about the company and its mission to empower Black artists.

Black Owned Clothing Brand
ArtistsUntold co-founder, Jordan Abdur-Raoof

What inspired the creation of ArtistsUntold and its business model?

I had followed this woman on Instagram for years and she was selling her artwork on apparel. I bought a shirt of hers, and it was just poor quality to be frank. It was then that I was like, you know this is something that I can do. 

I could share the artists’ story, their art, and their mission by creating a platform to pay the artists a portion of each sale. It had everything that I was looking for in a social venture.

Black Owned Clothing Brand

I talked with 30 to 40 people who critiqued it here and there, but generally speaking it seemed like a value proposition that a lot of artists really needed. The one thing that I think is unique to us is that we pay multiples higher than the industry standard to artists. Also, a lot of companies will make artists sign exclusivity agreements where they do not own their artwork anymore, but with us they still retain ownership.

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Essentially the artists are licensing the artwork out to us, and if they one day decided that they did not want the artwork on ArtistsUntold anymore, easy enough; we will take it down. We are trying to be as pro-artist as possible.

Black Owned Clothing Brand

How do you select which artists to work with?

It’s been quite a process. When we first started I’d send out 20 messages a day to different artists who had a few hundred to thousands of followers. And 99 percent of the time you wouldn’t get a response. That has now shifted since June with the Black Lives Matter movement, as it accelerated people’s validation of our value proposition and the service that we’re providing.

Now, some artists will reach out to us such as Brandon Brewer. Brandon reached out when he had about 75 followers. I thought to myself, ‘This is unbelievable. I love the work he’s doing, and I love his creative process along with what he communicates through his art’

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Another example is Uzo, who had only a few thousand followers when we first partnered but now has about 50,000. Seeing them grow exponentially has been really exciting, and I am happy that I was able to see artists and their vision, discuss with our team, and run with it.

Now, it’s almost 100% inbound and we have artists apply and unfortunately, we need to turn artists down from time to time.

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What is the most rewarding and most challenging thing about being an entrepreneur?

The challenges and rewards go hand in hand. The hardest part of this is not having a blueprint, but that is what makes this so much fun. Everyday there is a new challenge, or idea, that we need to handle or implement. We are a smaller firm so we are extremely receptive and work hard to pivot quickly depending on customer feedback.

There is no direction list or manual, so you need to figure everything out for yourself. I make a joke that Google is my best friend, but honestly almost every problem I am confronted with I turn to Google and my partners Xander and Steven and we find a solution.

Whether it’s measuring sales taxes, hiring a marketing firm, figuring out Facebook ads, affiliate programs, shipping, how to best respond to client emails and provide excellent customer service, setting up an EIN & business bank account, accounting, or social media aesthetic we are able to learn, adapt, and implement on the fly.  

Where do you see the business in 5 years?

In 5 years, we hope to be recognized as a premier socially conscious and sustainable streetwear & fine art brand. We would like to have a flagship store/gallery in New York and LA combining streetwear, fine art, music, and of course an amazing coffee bar.

We would also like to have a large enough following where any artist on our platform is making enough passive income to pursue art full time whether they have 50 followers or 50,000 followers.

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

First and foremost, is to stop talking about it and actually do it. Create a business plan, share your plan and get as much feedback as possible and adapt on the fly because it will not be perfect. While at Cornell I took a lot of classes on Entrepreneurship that have acted as core pillars for this business.

The most important takeaways for me are to listen and ask for feedback & to adapt quickly based on these ‘interviews’ you are conducting. Lastly, there is a huge component of ‘Grit’ which is a passion and perseverance for long-term and meaningful goals.

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Black Owned Clothing Brand

You have to have the ability to persist in something you feel passionate about and persevere when you face obstacles. I know every day when I wake up, I am going to work on ArtistsUntold whether I want to or not, because I have a commitment to empowering underrepresented communities both financially and by sharing narratives in a positive light that can challenge the stereotypes that exist in today’s society.

I know we have the potential to create hundreds of thousands of dollars in wealth for Black and underrepresented communities and the power to plant hundreds of thousands of trees. This drives me forward, so whatever you create, create it with the right intentions and try to put more good into the world.

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1 min read

Black Veteran & HBCU Grad Creates A Seven-Figure Clothing Brand

HGC Apparel is a Black veteran owned clothing brand founded by Marcia Smith,  a 90’s kid who’s passionate about the uplifting and expansion of the Black community.

black veteran
HGC Apparel founder, Marcia Smith

In this interview, we discuss how this mother and Howard University grad’s time in the military influenced her entrepreneurial journey. We also discuss what she has done to find success online and how she protects her intellectual property.

Don’t forget to LIKE the video and SUBSCRIBE to the channel!

Tony O. Lawson


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