Detroit native Robert Burston tells SEEN how he incorporated his love for Detroit into his brand Proud Detroiter. Read more about his clothing company and his dedication to his hometown.
By Rachel Schostak
1. Tell us about your professional background. I am the CEO of Proud Detroiter, a clothing and accessories brand that encompasses my passion for the city of Detroit and its people. I started this brand off of my love and appreciation for all things Detroit.
2. Where does your passion for the city of Detroit come from and what do you love most about the community? My passion for the city comes from being from here. I was born and raised in Detroit. On the east side of Detroit to be exact. So that’s where my passion comes from. What I love the most about the community is that no matter what, we survive. You can tell when we don’t have nothing. We seriously can make something out of nothing.
3. What inspired you to begin your company Proud Detroiter? Honestly, I was in a car accident. During my recovery, I was just sitting back and thinking about how I could develop creative ideas and turn them into businesses, and Proud Detroiter was one of them. It was lighting in a bottle.
4. You’ve referred to your volunteer role as a motivational speaker with City2City as “an incredible experience.” What about this has been impactful for you? Being a motivational speaker for City2City was an incredible experience for me because I was dealing with the children most of time. I was able to share my personal experiences growing up with them — my mistakes in life, choices that I made, whether they were right or wrong, just intellectual conversations with individuals that matter.
5. How have you helped youth realize their own skills and potential? By constantly educating them on knowledge of self. If they don’t realize where everything begins and how important they are, they are not going to want to be involved or want to take anything serious that’s being said or being taught.
6. As a mentor, what do you feel is the most important message you can convey to a young individual? That knowledge is Power.
7. Who in your own life would you consider to be a mentor? A friend by the of name of DR. SHAH.
8. How has this person helped encourage your own personal and career growth? He has encouraged me very much so on the business side of things, but more importantly in life generally. He genuinely cares for people. No matter who you are, your race, color, gender, etc. he loves people. He is super intelligent as well. He has a doctrine in physics. Numbers is first nature to him. Just seeing how he applies his knowledge and wisdom and doesn’t abuse it, helps me in so many areas.
9. How has your background and experience with web and IT assisted you with the social media outreach for Proud Detroiter? Well, I was able to help build my own website for starters. Also, just being able to recognize certain key words to use, algorithms, things of that nature. Knowing your way on a computer always is helpful as well too.
10. What inspires your designs for Proud Detroiter? Hip Hop… music has always been my motivation. it’s always been my form of expression.
11. In your own words, what is a “Proud Detroiter?” A Proud Detroiter is someone who has pride in his or her city. Someone that no matter what goes on — the violence, the hardship, the broken school systems, the corrupt police, inefficient financial institutions, no matter what — they still say, “I AM A PROUD DETROITER.” Why? Because, they’re always looking to improve the situation no matter what.
12. What advice would you have for a person looking to start a brand or clothing company? Do it! Don’t doubt yourself, don’t think twice, just do it. You have to be a risk taker, and you have to be willing to fail no matter what.
13. What career goals have you set for yourself for the next five years? To become a multimillionaire, to write a book, to write and produce my own album, to travel the world, to have a successful role in my own movie and to own several nonprofit organizations that help children without parents. All of our kids deserve to have role models no matter their backgrounds.
On to your Local Love List…
14. Favorite local place to eat? Pasta Bowl
15. Favorite Detroit landmark? Joe Louis Arena area.
Now on to your personal style…
16. You’re never fully dressed without ___? wearing something from Proud Detroiter.
17. Three words to describe your style: Fly, trending, different.
18. Who are your personal style icons? Have they influenced your design aesthetic? Jay-Z, Sean Combs, Wu Tang. Yes!
19. What are you currently listening to? Travis Scott “Astroworld”
20. Favorite words to live by? “Never go by what you believe, but rather live by actual facts.”