As the owner of Royal Oak’s Former Vintage, the 23-year-old hawks once-worn sneakers and streetwear. He talks to SEEN about what it’s like to run his own fashion business
By Ashlyn Delaney
Featured image photography by Niko Carter
1. How did you get started in the industry? From a young age I always loved clothing and fashion. Growing up, I was inspired by the older kids at the Skatepark wearing Nike SB’s or Supra Skytops and tight jeans (before it was cool), but I couldn’t afford cool clothes at that time. So at 12 years old, I became motivated to start working towards my goal of a career in fashion.
2. What inspired you to open Former Vintage? I opened Former Vintage in July of 2016. I really wanted to work for myself and do something that involved my love for fashion, so opening a retail store just made sense to me. I also just wanted to be able to try and achieve something on my own that didn’t require a business degree and was something that I’ve always been passionate about.
3. What is your favorite thing about your job? Being able to make my own schedule and having the flexibility of being your own boss.
4. What was your biggest mistake or failure and what did you learn from it? Owning a store is super hard — it’s not all fun and games. I have moved on decisions way too fast and was very pushy in the beginning of my career. I have lost a lot of money by putting my efforts into the wrong things and by surrounding myself with the wrong people. But I have now learned how to better navigate business relationships, maintain a strict schedule, slow down and to stay driven and locked into the business at all times. I know that all eyes are on me to make my brand successful and that’s what keeps me motivated.
5. What are some challenges you face as a small-business owner? Having to wear many hats and having to do almost every part of the job on my own. I am everything: a sales person, a janitor, the buyer, the face of the brand, a boss and more, so juggling it all at once can be difficult at times. I put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed and make sure that my employees and customers are happy.
6. What advice would you give to someone who is interested in a career in fashion? Stay true to yourself and what you do with clothing because if you try to be someone else that’s when it starts to look weird. I just like to keep everything organic.
7. How would you describe your personal style? Where do you find inspiration? I would describe my personal style as different. I usually just put on the first thing that I see. Not overthinking it allows me to stay true to myself and feel my best.
8. Your most coveted vintage piece that you currently own? The original Jordans and Nikes. I collect them.
9. Finish this sentence. You’re never fully dressed without… underwear and socks.
10. If you weren’t a business owner and a streetwear connoisseur, what would you be instead? I would be a soccer player or someone famous.
Now onto some fun…
11. What was your first job growing up? Selling sneakers.
12. What’s currently on your playlist? I don’t really have a playlist. When I’m driving I like to turn on what I’m feeling in the moment. It’s a lot of “Hey Siri! Can you turn on…”
13. What was your favorite TV show as a kid? SpongeBob SquarePants.
14. Three things you can’t live without? Clothing, friends and family.
15. Dream vacation destination? Going to Japan because of the culture.
Local Love Questions…
16. Your current favorite local spots for breakfast, lunch and dinner? I’m a big fruit fan, so I love hitting up local fruit markets for produce. I also love hitting up Trader Joe’s and have been eating at The Detroit Pepper company a lot lately.
17. Your favorite place to shop locally in Metro Detroit? Flea markets and thrift stores, but I can’t expose my sources!
19. What do you love about Detroit? Detroit is so underground and not mainstream. People are actually true to themselves and just really cool.
20. Favorite quote or words to live by? “Live in the moment.”