“You’re welcome. You are worthy.” These are statements I often heard from my mother and father growing up in Detroit, MI whenever I offered my thanks for an act of kindness. It was the phrase “You are worthy,” that stayed with me, as I never quite understood what it meant as a child. However, I knew it was something that made me feel good, important and aware that I was a part of something bigger than myself. Therefore, my dreams and imagination were wild. One year I wanted to be an open heart surgeon, then a lawyer, a talk show host, a writer, a fashion influencer, while later settling in on the idea of becoming a pastor.
After completing a study abroad stint in Madrid, Spain, I wanted to connect with people on a deeper level, understand their dreams, struggles and life experiences. I would then enroll at Princeton Theological Seminary for a Master of Divinity degree. Seminary was a space that stripped me of everything that I knew to be true–rocking my sense of identity, comfort and “safe” dreams. I was forced to find truth in my sexuality as a gay, black man while often times wondering, “What am I doing here? I do not feel deeply connected to working in a church, but the work of deepening my spirituality resonates strongly with me!”
Polo Ralph Lauren
Princeton was expensive, so I took a job at Banana Republic across the way from campus. While working for a few weeks, I was approached by a store manager, at the yet-to-be-opened Polo Ralph Lauren (also across the street), posing as a pretend shopper. After revealing the truth of her store visit, she gave me a card with her contact information and told me to meet her on my lunch break. I did and the rest was history. I loved everything about Ralph Lauren! The brand, attention to great detail and immense creativity were enough to have me second guess my education at Princeton. But, I knew that it was something, much deeper that Ralph Lauren was present in my life to teach me. Connection.
Clients would start to fill my daily space with their life stories, joys, concerns and dreams as we shopped for an ensemble or gift. Before I knew it, I was starting to find a deepening of my spirituality at Ralph Lauren, now informing my theological studies at Princeton. There had to be a way that I could nurture the interior while image consulting the exterior–thus was born my work with Plan A℠.
After respectfully declining a job at the Tom Ford flagship store set to open in New York City, a phase of depression, a quick move back to MI and so many moments of extreme uncertainty, I took the plunge with $500 and couched surfed my way in NYC to create a lifestyle firm that allowed me to use all of my gifts and talents, that felt true for me.
The struggle has been real. And, I’m not here to water down the absolute difficulty, moments of walking on water, faith and extreme hardship this journey has brought me. But, how could I look my clients in their face, be an expert on a tv show or write books about this work if I asked people to do things that I have not done or was willing to do?
Nurturing the interior portion in my work with Plan A looks a lot like: What is my purpose and calling in life? My dreams? How do I make sense of my relationship to my intuition, higher self, God/The Universe? How can I close the gap between my past and present? What is holding me back from fully being an authentic person? How can I make an impact using my gifts and talents? What tools do I need in order to realize my Plan A? How do I persevere in the face of resistance? What are my intentions? Who am I…really?
Image consulting the exterior is rather simple. How do I express my brand, my dreams and best self to the world, through my authentic style, appearance, health and demeanor? What no longer serves me and my visions of forward progression?
Working with an exceptional team of the industry’s best, Plan A offers clients the space to dig deep, do the work and expand their sense of self in order to serve. Style serves. Every time I walk out of my house, I lead with the intention of being comfortable in my own skin. I have a full biker dude rugged look, a bespoke suit with bright colored accessories, city gear or athleisure. Style-for-life inspires others to present their personal truth to the world and offers permission to take risks. Risk taking in style choices, often transcends to taking risks in our careers. It is the unsung hero of modern day women and men.
As 2018 takes shape, one piece of advice that I would offer each reader is probably what my mother and father often told me as a child: you are worthy. Embracing, adopting and living in the true space of understanding your worth often times will shake up things in your life. You’re forced to live in your authenticity in a different way. Simply put, worth has the power to kick your ass and point you towards the highest possible dream that you could ever experience.
Living a life that says, “There Is Only Plan A” does not say that there aren’t diverse paths towards accomplishing one’s dream. However, it does say that having a plan b, c, d, p or z, does not serve the greatest height of who we are destined to become or humanity. If we all sought courage and took the risk of going after our Plan A, there would be no need for competition, but an extreme desire to create, create and create. In turn, we serve, serve and serve, while showing up in our best light.
By understanding your inner self, by acknowledging your self worth and by creating that Plan A, you can better define your exterior persona and convey an authentic style to the people and the world around you.
Photo Credit: Andre L Perry