Athletes, superheroes, samurai. Later Fred Hampton, Michael Jordan, Assata Shakur, and Malcolm X. As a kid, I honored my heroes by drawing and painting them. Creating art was my favorite pastime and everyone assumed my future lay in being creative.
At 13, I brokered my first business deal. St. Ides Malt liquor was partnering with hip-hop artists like NWA, DJ Pooh, Eric B and Rakim, and Ice Cube to connect with Hip-Hop culture. I linked an artist friend with a connect I had at the brand and we designed and released some promotional t-shirts. They were a hit.
My passion for the arts, business, Hip-Hop, and Black economics had collided for the first time. It wouldn’t be the last.
I graduated from college and fell into sales. Then, I enlisted in the US Army. Reckless? Impulsive? Maybe. But it was the making of me.
I was an active-duty combat producer and broadcaster, delivering five news stories and 30 radio and TV slots per week for the largest English language service in Asia.
The relentless schedule taught me structure and discipline. I learned about service, humility, teamwork, and focus. When I left, I had the skills to build the life I wanted on my own terms.
Out of BDUs, I honed my sales, business development, and marketing skills and re-entered the corporate world. I achieved record annual sales, improved customer retention, devised marketing plans that blew up user engagement, and managed multi-million dollar projects.
I had a growing track record and a phone full of contacts. I taught myself to code and web development which expanded my professional horizons but I was missing a creative outlet. That child artist, now a grown businessman, saw an opportunity for these two worlds to meet.
I moved among artists: talented, passionate, but lacking the business experience to monetize their work. I started doing their strategy, marketing, and event production.
Suit & Artist was born in a Chicago loft at one of the weekly liquor promo nights I was running. Ready to quit my 9 to 5, I wanted to help artists achieve commercial success on their own terms, combining creative integrity with real-world business experience. I knew I could rewrite the relationship between “suits” and artists.
There’s another vital energy behind Suit & Artist. As a Black person and an African American in particular, I know the power of generational wealth and asset ownership. I’m working to reverse centuries of economic inequality and lift that burden for future generations of my family and community.
Today, Suit & Artist is a media company and digital agency. Our clients include Fortune 500 companies, startups, non-profits, and government agencies. We also help a select group of creators and entrepreneurs to integrate the traditionally disparate worlds of art and commerce.
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