Written By Samantha Cee
Woolly Heads is a Bronx based apparel company. We are black owned and committed to the economic, political, and cultural ideals of black nationalism. Check out our exclusive interview with the rising brand!
Social Media Handles//Website//Podcast
Facebook: Woolly Heads
The 2 Black Podcast can be found on both iTunes and Sound cloud.
Fashion Gxd Magazine: How did the idea for your business come about?
Woolly Heads: The idea initially came from me thinking of ways to promote my podcast. I’m co-host of the 2 Black Podcast and I thought merchandise was a good way to get people’s attention. So it was originally a promotional vehicle. But as I began to come up with different designs, I realized that this was a unique medium through which I can further communicate with my audience. From there Woolly Heads became its own thing, and I think it even began to influence how I approach other aspects of my platform.
Fashion Gxd Magazine: How do you find people to bring into your organization that truly care about the organization the way you do?
Woolly Heads: Honestly, some of my best collaborators I met at the most random of places. I think when you put out a certain energy it really does attract people to you. But I do seek out the like-minded and pretty much stalk the places where I might expect to find them. Whether it’s at a concert or a black film festival, I am pretty much always looking to find the people who are having the same conversations I am having or thinking the same way that I do about certain topics. I believe in the value of collaboration, and when you put yourself out there you’re often amazed at the talent you find. And often times, their amazed to have found you too.
Fashion Gxd Magazine: What three pieces of advice would you give to other children who want to become entrepreneurs?
Woolly Heads: The best advice I would give children is to believe in your vision 100%. The most important thing you can do is to realize that your dreams are attainable. Without this, nobody can succeed in anything they attempt to accomplish. The second thing I would say is that children should become financially literate. We for some reason don’t think that kids can grasp something like that because even adults struggle with it. One of the most critical factors in developing generational wealth is culture. When children learn sound financial habits, they tend to make better decisions with their resources. The third thing I would tell them is to be bold. Be audacious when you dream. People tend to limit themselves and it’s only by challenging yourself that you ever realize your full potential.
Fashion Gxd Magazine: If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Woolly Heads: I would definitely have started earlier. I think about that all the time, even though I’m still pretty young. But I’ve come to realize that you’ll never stop thinking about it if you allow yourself to harp on it. I’ve met older, more successful entrepreneurs who’ve told me that they used to say the same thing. You just have to allow yourself to get over it. Everything has its season.
Fashion Gxd Magazine: What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Woolly Heads: The first skill I would say is confidence. You really need to believe in yourself, your brand, and your vision. When you walk into a room, the brand walks in with you. You are the brand and people are looking for you to convey to them what it’s all about. So you have to be about it. Secondly, I would say that you have to have honesty. You have to be able to critically evaluate yourself and be honest about your performance. That means that you have to be willing to recognize and correct mistakes. But it also means that you have to allow yourself to recognize and appreciate progress as well. Thirdly, I would say that you have to be obsessive. You have to have a passion for what you do. That’s what keeps you going when you encounter disappointments.
Fashion Gxd Magazine: What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
Woolly Heads: So I have bombed a number of times. What I mean by that is that there have been times when I’ve been at an event and have not been as effective in pushing the brand as I would have liked. One of the things I had to learn was that in order to be effective in conveying your message to your audience, you simply must come out of your shell. There have so many times where I could see that people really did want to engage with me, but I would sort of wait for them to approach me. So I’ve left a lot of connections on the table. And that’s what I’ve learned most from those experiences. You only get out of something what you put into it, and fear is the worst thing to inject into a business model.
Fashion Gxd Magazine: How many hours do you work a day on average?
Woolly Heads: I believe that in order to realize your vision you have to put in some serious time. So I really strive for 10-12 hour days. Dr. Boyce Watkins calls this “sweat equity” and I find that half the battle is being able to consistently put in the necessary hustle, day in and day out. It’s easy to make excuses or fall into bad habits. But, again, you really do get back only what you put in.
Fashion Gxd Magazine: Describe/outline your typical day?
Woolly Heads: My typical day consists of me “watering my plants,” as I like to say. I am a creative person and so I tend to have multiple projects going at once. Whether it’s conceptualizing a new design, writing an article, composing a song, or researching for my next podcast episode, my day is a juggling exercise. And my primary challenge is to be as efficient with my time and as productive as possible.
Fashion Gxd Magazine: How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
Woolly Heads: I think it’s safe to say that my family had different expectations for me. Unfortunately, a lot of black families don’t value entrepreneurship as much as they value “a good job with benefits.” It’s too risky for them. I think it’s a generational thing, and so I’ve had tensions with older family members who subscribe to an entirely different way of thinking than me. I don’t think they understand me, and a lot of that stems from not being willing to reassess things they’ve been taught. A lot of what I believe to be possible for my people, they truly don’t see as being a realistic possibility. So I’ve distanced myself somewhat from the opinions of family members who don’t share my vision. And I would advise young entrepreneurs to likewise choose the people they seek advice from very carefully.
Fashion Gxd Magazine: What motivates you?
Woolly Heads: I truly believe that black people are an exceptional people, with a proud history of unparalleled genius. And I feel as if there is a real sense among this generation that we can build our own empire, so to speak. One of the slogans I live by is that we must rebuild Black Wall Street, which was a thriving black community that existed in the Greenwood district of Tulsa, Oklahoma in the early 20th century. When I look to the past, I see black excellence. And that serves as a constant source of inspiration for me.
Fashion Gxd Magazine: How do you generate new ideas?
Woolly Heads: Black history is a major inspiration for me. I study it obsessively so most of my designs or new projects stem from that. I am always looking to draw from our past and find parallels in our present. I think that my strongest, most thought provoking themes come from that.
Fashion Gxd Magazine: What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
Woolly Heads: I’ve had to make a lot of lifestyle changes. Being an entrepreneur changes the way you view yourself and one of the most important things a brand can have is authenticity. You have to truly practice the things you preach. Financial literacy and good money management are obviously principals that every entrepreneur needs to have in order to be successful. But more than that, we preach black economics as a way of life. We encourage our customers not only to invest in us, but to also invest in our “competitors” as well. Because that’s what it will take for us to truly rebuild Black Wall Street. As a result, I’ve had to personally change how I spend my time and money. Some may disagree, but I don’t feel as if I can espouse the principals of Marcus Garvey one day, spend my limited resources on Nike and Lacoste the next, and still be a credible voice to the cause. I could just as easily have spent my money on black owned brands. I am a black owned apparel company and so, at the very least, when I walk out of the house I should be black owned from head to toe. So being an entrepreneur has taught me that to truly invest in your brand, you have to be willing to hold yourself accountable for being “off brand.” Being genuine means, in other words, to put your money where your mouth is. And that often requires sacrifice.
Fashion Gxd Magazine: Where you see yourself and your business in 10 years? 20 years?
Woolly Heads: In ten years, I'd like for Woolly Heads to have had a real impact on the culture. Success for me would be seeing the impact my designs have not only on black fashion, but also on black thought. There is a message in everything that I do, and that message is black excellence. We’ve done it before and we will do it again. To see people embrace that and to know that I played a part in it would be indescribably fulfilling.