I Cried In My Rental Car Yesterday. And It Was Eddie Griffin’s Fault!

Celebrity Designer, William WilsonYesterday was a milestone moment for me. I’m in LA, sitting in my rental car. It’s like 90 degrees. I’m sweating like Al Sharpton at a Trump rally. I’m shaking. I’m sweating. And I’m crying. And it’s ALL Eddie Griffin’s fault.

You see, my tears weren’t tears of pain. They were tears of joy, happiness and accomplishment. They were the result of seeing a seldom discussed, almost forgotten, goal accomplished. So. What made me cry in a rental car in Los Angeles? Would you believe me if I told you it was a rack of clothes? Well it was.

I was in the wardrobe trailer for the Comedy Get Down television show the guys are filming. And I’m looking at everyone’s wardrobes. Most was supplied to the show by various companies. But Eddie wanted to wear his own clothes for the show. So, as I look at his wardrobe rack I see a whole rack of clothing. And they all have MY LABEL on them. His entire wardrobe for the show was made by William Wilson Clothing. At first I just sat and looked at it, in shock and disbelief. I talked with the wardrobe designer Dana. And told her about it. She let me take a picture of it. We spoke for a while longer, and I walked out of the trailer. I wasn’t really sure where I was going. I was just walking. And I ended up back at the rental car. I got in the car, pulled out my phone, and just stared at the picture. Then a tear drop fell on the screen. Then another. Then another. As I wiped my eyes, I couldn’t stop looking at the screen.

20 hours later, and I still can’t fully verbalize what I felt. But the best way I can describe it is thankful, blessed and amazed. Thankful to God for blessing me to live a life I never even remotely dreamed possible. I never wanted to be a clothing designer, but I guess God wanted me to be. Thankful to my mother, for teaching me to work hard and never give up on your dreams, no matter what other people said about it. And thankful to my friend Eddie Griffin; for being the loyal, committed and one of the truest friends you could ask for. And for teaching me what it takes to get to the top, stay on top, and to never lose yourself in your success.

When I got into design, and realized I’d be working with celebrities, I set some pretty high goals. I figured “What do I have to lose?” One of my first goals was to dress one of the main stairs for a tv show. Today I’m living that dream. I’m in my hotel room getting dressed to go on set. And I will see my friend, Eddie Griffin, wearing clothes that he thought up, and I made. God is so good.

Never let anyone tell you your dreams are too big. Dream as big as you want. But remember, big dreams require big commitment. They come with great sacrifices and may take a long time to get there. You may have to put them in the back of your mind, and work on the preliminary things first. They probably won’t happen when YOU want. But if you do the right things for long enough, they will eventually happen. Just don’t give up.

William Wilson, CEO

William Wilson Clothing

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“Broke People Give Broke Advice”

You can do anything in the world, but you can’t do it alone. You need help. And quite often you need advice. When seeking advice,  make sure you get it from someone you can trust, and someone capable of giving you sound counsel. But also remember, “Broke people give broke advice.” This doesn’t mean broken in a financial way. I mean in mind. A mentally broken person will only tell you why something won’t work. They will never have suggestions to make your ideas better. And they will only tear down your dreams. Seek advise from those that care about you and your success.

But also understand, just because a person is on your side doesn’t mean they will always agree with you. Sometimes the best advice you can get is not try your idea. Or try it later. Or make some changes to it. Be smart enough to understand the difference between a support system and a cheerleader. Support system has your back and will ALWAYS tell you the truth. A cheerleader will agree with you, no matter how bad the advice.

You can’t build a strong foundation with broken pieces. And you can’t have a positive outcome seeking advice from a broken mind. Remember. “Broke people give broke advice.”

William Wilson, CEO

William Wilson Clothing

 

Don’t Confuse the Blessing with the By-Product

Photo shoot 1 017 (resized)I am often told how blessed my life is. And I admit it. It really is. I have the opportunity to do things I never thought possible. I sometimes find myself sitting in my hotel room in some city, or on my couch at home, and cry with joy and amazement of the things that happen in my life. I am so thankful God saw fit to bless me this way. Often people tell me “You deserve it. You work hard.” Though I do work hard, that does not make me deserving of these blessings. If what you do decided what you deserve, doesn’t that undermine the definition of a blessing anyway?

Though I have been blessed. Many people miss what my REAL blessings are. They think it’s the celebrities I work with, or the attention, the travel, my home, my network and my lifestyle. They see parts of my life on social media and see THAT as the blessing. Those are NOT the blessings. Those are just the results of the blessings. The real blessings are the things you don’t see. The things behind the scenes. My blessings are many, so I will only name a few.

The first blessing is of-course, God being in my life, and allowing me to have a personal relationship with Him. Without Him, NONE OF THIS happens. I am a Christian in progress. I make a lot of mistakes. I am far from perfect. I don’t always display the best examples of Christianity, and I know He is OFTEN disappointed with the decisions and choices I make. When I’m hurt I’m sometimes angry with Him. Yet he NEVER fails to show me that He is still with me; and that the pain, though excruciating is temporary, and everything will be all right.

My mother is an enormous blessing. I am naturally very closed off, distant and extremely private. I handle most pain internally, and alone. My biggest seasons of pain often manifests itself in me diving even deeper into my work. Rarely do even my closest friends know when I am struggling with something. I’ve always been that way. But I know if I EVER need her, my mom is there for me to talk to. That’s extremely comforting for someone like me that doesn’t open up to people very easily.

My boy Kevin Porter has been a blessing. When I first got my space for William Wilson Clothing in Uptown Charlotte, I was constantly being given high estimates because people knew I worked with celebrities, and figured they could get over on me. (Not realizing I used to own a construction company and knew when they were lying and bidding me high). My buddy Kevin and I tore down all the old walls in the space, and built new ones. TWICE! We hung stuff on walls, moved things around, and then moved them again. And while others tried to charge astronomical prices, Kevin only charged me with friendship. He was always there for me, and he never charged me a dime. He wouldn’t even take it.

My blessings are my friends, who at my darkest hour are always there for me. Even when they don’t know they are. They keep life in perspective. In a world where many are afraid to disagree with me, tell me I’m wrong, or put me in my place; they will. They don’t care if I get upset. They just tell me the truth, and I love them for that. They keep me from making stupid decisions more often than you think.

My blessings are my loved ones. I have love for everyone. But I mean the ones I say “I love you” to. I don’t say those words easily. I probably haven’t said them to 10 people total in my entire life, outside of in a Christian way. Emotional intimacy is my greatest struggle. It always has been. I’m working to do better but it is a process. I’m not really an emotional person. I’m more of a pragmatist. It’s not the best way to be, but it’s all I know. So for people to know this and still stay in my life is a HUGE thing for me. So they are a very crucial blessing.

My “haters” are a blessing. Yes they ARE a blessing. They make me pay attention to the small details. They keep me from overlooking things. They keep me from giving into those rare cases of anger, and posting responses that would immediately undermine my brand and what I stand for. I’m human. And though I’m not an emotional person, I do have feelings, and I can give into them at times. My haters make me make sure to try my best not to do that.

And lastly, my blessings are you guys that support me. You have no idea how often the encouraging things you say and do for me have been the only bright spot in a rough day. I tend to be positive on my social media, so you rarely see, or hear, my pain. You guys always support my efforts, have positive things to say. You pick me up when I’m down. And I appreciate when I’m out in town and someone stops me that I haven’t met and introduce themselves as a Facebook friend, or Instagram/ Twitter follower. I appreciate you taking the time out of your day to acknowledge my existence. You could have walked by without saying a word and I would have been none the wiser. So thank you for showing me that what I do make a difference.

I hope this gives a better insight to the REAL blessings in my life. Hopefully it will help you do the same. Take an introspective look at your life and find out what your REAL blessings are. You may be surprised with what you find out. Until next time….

God bless and dress well.

William Wilson, CEO

William Wilson Clothing

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Don’t Let Your Business Cost You “The One”

Photo shoot 1 017 (resized)I started this blog to help people. I am often asked to have lunch with people so they can “pick my brain” about business. Though I would love to meet with everyone, I can’t. But I also understand that sharing the successes and mistakes of life can help others. This is one of those times.

There is debate over whether you can balance work and life. I don’t think you can because balance infers equality. When building a business it’s all but impossible to give EQUAL time to both and build a strong, sustainable business efficiently. I have always felt that. I still believe that. However, I recently witnessed something that has caused me to give pause to my purely black and white positioning on this issue.

A friend of mine met a female a while back. They became friends. Nothing more, nothing less. Over time they developed feelings for each other. He was building his business, and that was his primary focus. That is something I can truly relate to. As his feelings became stronger, he became more and more conflicted because he fell completely and totally, head over heels in love with her, as did she with him. Though he felt he had met the woman of his dreams, he still focused on his business. In his mind, he was building a foundation for their lives together. She knew he loved her. And she trusted him. He wasn’t a cheater and she knew he was loyal. He relied on those facts to wrongly make the assumption that everything would work out in the end, and everyone would eventually be happy. However, he missed the NUMBER ONE rule in business. ALWAYS listen to the customer.

In this instance, SHE was the customer. And his product was a life together. All she wanted was his love, and to feel special. She wasn’t demanding of him. All she wanted was SOME of his time, and the little things that matter. She wanted to feel like he was with her, and that there was hope for a future down the road. She never pushed him for much. She wasn’t after him for money, or what he could do for her. She was 100% supportive of his needs, and she would do anything to help in any way she could. She even sacrificed her own happiness for the sake of love and being supportive to him.

Now to get the scope of HIS love, you must know he loved her with every bit of his heart as well. He wanted to marry her and raise a family with her one day. Those of us that knew him, knew that. He felt it, but he didn’t express it in the manner that he should have. She relayed her feelings to him. He didn’t ignore them, but he didn’t truly understand the depth of her pain. Subsequently, he lost her and she met someone new.

He and I have always felt the same about work/ life balance. And I had never seen a situation where things didn’t work out in the end. So I always felt he was doing the right thing. And, as usual, at the end, everything would work out. But as we spoke, all I could hear was his pain. I had never heard him sound like this before. Here was a guy that had it all, and once had everything he could want, standing before me totally defeated. Heartbroken. Lost. My heart felt for him. The pain he felt was unimaginable. He said these words to me.

“Will, I have success, respect and money. I have a successful career and I have unlimited opportunity. But not a single bit of that matters now. I’d give all of it up to have her back. Without her, all of this feels empty. I have never felt so alone and lost in my life.” That has been permeating in my head for weeks. In the end, after being friends with this guy for most of my adult life. After building careers neither of us ever thought we would. After living unimaginably blessed lives, the most valuable lesson in life had been taught. Success, fame, money, lifestyle, whatever your ambition; if you are blessed to find the person that makes your heart beat fast; if you find the one you think you want to spend the rest of your life with; if you find the one that hearing their voice changes the way you feel, let them know. Don’t just let them know. Make sure they feel it. After all this time building a business, all my friend wants in the world is to hold her again. a chance to win her love back, and to spend the rest of his life with her. He was so busy building a world where they could have it all, that he never realized he already had everything he wanted. And now the only thing he wants in life is her back. I pray he gets his chance. I think what they had is special, and extremely rare to fine. And I think he learned a valuable lesson in his heart. Not just in his mind. He has an even greater appreciation and value for than ever before. Maybe this situation can be the catalyst of them building an even stronger foundation together.

Until next time…… God bless and dress well.

 

William Wilson, CEO

William Wilson Clothing

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The 3 P’s of Success

Photo shoot 1 017 (resized)Most people can’t run a successful business for the same reason they can’t have a successful relationship. They lose sight of what they’ll feel later, because they focus on what they feel now. They sacrifice long-term joy for short-term happiness. In a world consumed with convenience, we want to have everything and we want it now. We want it our way. It’s all about US. And it’s about when WE’RE ready. That’s not how success works. Never has. Never will. Success is the reward of doing the right things, the right way, for the appropriate amount of time. Many of us don’t achieve the fullness of our success because give up too soon. This happens in relationships and in business. I had this happen to me once.

There was this girl. She was amazing. She was beautiful, funny, intelligent, had a strong work ethic, a Christian; she was a good girl. She had everything I could ever want. Now, if you know me, you know I don’t make emotional decisions, and I admit that I am as bad at relationships as I am good at business. I’m often told I will be a bachelor forever, and that I don’t give anyone a fair chance. We can debate those later. Anyway, I was in love with this girl. She had my heart in her hand. Even without a title, she had my total commitment. But I wasn’t ready for a relationship. Relationships come with obligations and requirements that I wasn’t able to give. This had nothing to do with wanting other women, or keeping my options open. I was preparing for the future. I was building a business and it required my focus. I wanted to make sure when I’m we were finally in a relationship, I could fulfill my responsibilities as a man, and as HER man. I couldn’t imagine my life without her, so I wanted to make sure I could provide for her a life equal to, or better than, what she had before me. If I ever get there, I want to ensure that work is an option, not a requirement, for my wife. And I want to make sure that if I ever have children, their only thoughts of college will be WHERE to go, not IF they can go. That’s what I think a man should do. ( However, I will not pay 1 red penny for my child to go to the universities of Alabama or Texas) Because of my business building, I didn’t have the time needed to focus on a “traditional relationship”. But I was willing to compromise as best I could to make something work. I knew there would be some sacrifices on her end, but I told her “If you give me the time. You’ll have everything you want and more. I’m committed to you and I have no desire for any other woman in my life but you.” All the things she wanted she would have had, and then some; in time. Unfortunately, she wanted them THEN. She didn’t see a future, and she chose to move on. It crushed me, but that was her decision to make, and she did. It crushed me, but I had no choice but accept it. Having a relationship THEN was more important to her than having ME later. I’m not saying her decision was right or wrong, that isn’t my place to say. I know some of you are thinking “Well if you loved her so much, why didn’t you just give in? That way you wouldn’t lose her.” The answer to that is easy. You don’t shortchange a person’s future, for instant gratification today. We both wanted to the same thing. I wanted to be able to give it to her consistently, not for a limited time. But this is what many of us do in our own relationships, and in business.

Success in our personal lives and professional lives require, what I call, “The 3 Ps of Success”: Planning, Preparation and Patience. Each of these must be executed fully in order for any of it to work. Many of us get the planning part down easily because it is centered around what WE think. It’s based on OUR ideas and what WE think works.

Preparation is where we start to fail. Just because you know what you want, doesn’t mean you’re ready to have it. You still have to prepare. Writing a business plan doesn’t mean you’re ready to start your business. You may have to clean up your credit report in order to secure some financing. You have to get proper documentation. You have to do research to source the proper resources, and vendors you will require to do the business. You have to identify your market. Then you have to research how to best appeal to their market. You have to establish a brand. Then you have to research how to best make your brand attractive to your target market. All of this happens before you even decide on a name. The planning and preparation phases can be as stressful as the execution.

After you have completed the planning and preparation stages, you HAVE to have patience. Without patience, you are sure to fail. Achieving success requires patience. The limits of your patience will be tested. Many don’t realize the roller coaster ride success will take you on. Things will be great one week, and you’ll be pulling your hair out the next. You’ll have record sales one month, and the next month, you can’t buy a customer. You’ll have to turn down work one week, and the next you’ll be checking to make sure your phone service is working because you’re getting no calls. You will feel the highest of highs. But you will also feel the lowest of lows. When the lows come, that’s when most people give up. Especially if you’ve been low for a while. But if you are willing to be patient through the darkness and uncertainty; if you hold on when you feel there is nothing to hold on to. If you have the will and the strength to see the big picture and not get caught up in the emotion of where you are in the moment, you can have everything you ever desired, and then some.

No one ever says achieving success is easy, but everyone says it was worth it. Running away and giving up only prepares you to run farther, and give up more often. You have to have faith. Hebrews 11:1 says “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen.” You have to have faith in order to have success. You can’t just give in to emotions because you’re not currently getting what you want. As the famous quote says “You have to do what you HAVE to do now, to do what you WANT to do later.”

God bless and dress well.

William Wilson, CEO

William Wilson Clothing

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Focus on Your Market

Photo shoot 1 017 (resized)Just because everyone uses the product you sell doesn’t mean everyone is your market. Most brands carry products that exist in multiple market price points, and the success of the brand is usually dependent on facilitating and cultivating THEIR specific marketplace. I know this may sound confusing, so I will use my firm as an example.

My brand, William Wilson, was developed to cater to business men and women (yes – I also make women’s clothing). Athletes and celebrities were never my target market; nor are they now. I was just blessed to acquire an impressive client portfolio that happens to include a significant amount of them. I honestly would rather have the person that works in Bank of America Corporate Center than the one that plays in Bank of America Stadium. He’s going to be a more “consistent” buyer because he has a constant NEED for my product. Plus given the average NFL career is 3.5 years, the numerical longevity factor is far more beneficial to me at the corporate center than the stadium. That explains one part of the market place. But that isn’t the focus of this post.

I’m talking about straying from your corporate brand strategy to chase every dollar. There is no way to maintain brand integrity and chase dollars. Especially in the luxury goods market. Again, this may make no sense in the abstract, so I will once again use my brand to explain.

I sell a premium luxury product, custom clothing. My brand is known for being some of the best looking, best constructed and highest quality in the country. That comes at a price. That doesn’t mean it has to be astronomical in price, but it shouldn’t break the bank of my target client either. With the exception of my Morehead Collection. My suits range from as low as $699 up to $40,000 (my Morehead Collection begins at $20,000 and is delivered by an armed guard in an armored truck). So as you can see, I cover a large price range. However, there is a segment of my market that will never buy from me. In the industry, we call them “Hotel Ballers“.

You may be asking yourself, “What is a “Hotel Baller“?” A hotel baller is the guy that wears  custom suits, but instead of purchasing suits from established firms in the area, they wait for the guy to come from Asia, sets up in a hotel room for a couple of days and sells out of the room. They usually offer a ridiculous cheap price to get clients in the door, knowing that the client’s ego and/or taste won’t allow him to buy the advertised product. The advertised packages are usually a bunch of fabrics that no one buys. The fabric IS available. So they aren’t lying. It’s just an old bait-n-switch (common in the car business. The more desirable fabrics are sold as upgrades, usually about $200 per upgrade level. Afterwards comes the up sell. Working button holes, fancy jacket linings, monograms and contrast stitching are always lucrative add-ons. Then they hit them with the shipping and tax. The tax is ALWAYS funny because they don’t even pay tax in the US usually because they live in Thailand and China. This is usually about $250-$500 of just free cash to them. I have a friend that sells this way, and he explained it to me. And he said “William, the crazy thing is, by the time the walk out of here, they usually pay more for my suit than they would have yours. And if it doesn’t fit right, they have to add the additional time and charges of shipping it halfway around the world. It could take months by the time we get it right; and you’re right here.”

Now some have asked why I don’t try that same thing locally and eliminate the competition. I explained to him, I have a brand to protect, a company to protect, and clients to protect. My clients trust me to provide them with the highest quality products on the market. My clients want a great suit, made with integrity and high quality, and they want a fair price. Not a cheap price, a FAIR price. My clients understand that quality costs. For me to be able to compete for that business, I would have to use lower quality fabrics, have them machine sewn in China, and machine sewn. These are all factors that would possibly increase my customer pool temporarily, but a client that is strictly shopping price isn’t concerned about quality and will leave for the next guy whose product is $50 less. Then you’ve lost your previous clients AND your new ones. Worse than that, you will have lost your brand credibility. That’s entrepreneurial SUICIDE.

You will never see Neiman Marcus competing with Wal-Mart (or Macys for that matter). You won’t see Mercedes and Lexus compete with Honda or Chevrolet. And you won’t see the William Wilson brand competing with hotel suit sellers. This is not to discredit them, or their customers. They do what they have to do. It’s not about them. It’s about the William Wilson brand, and my clients. My clients have placed trust in me. I owe it to them to be what I told them I was. They come to me because they feel I offer something they can’t get anywhere else. They come to me because they want the best from the best, and they feel like I fit that description. I appreciate my clients, and would never disrespect them by trying to flip-flop to chase a dollar. I don’t focus on my competition. I focus on my market. Where they go, the William Wilson brand goes.

 

God bless and dress well.

William Wilson, CEO

William Wilson Clothing

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Life’s Not a Marathon. It’s a Sprint.

Photo shoot 1 017 (resized)There’s an old saying “Life’s not a sprint. It’s a marathon.” That is patently false. Life is not a marathon. EXISTENCE is a marathon. All you have to do to exist is just not die. But life calls for action; attempts and achievements. Which is why life isn’t a marathon, it actually is a never -ending series of sprints.

You see, to run a sprint, you train for days, months, even years. You spend time in the weight room, practicing, and trying to beat the clock. It’s feels like you train forever. And for what? A 10 second event. Validation of all that preparation comes down to you being your best for 10 seconds. (or less)

Life is the same way. You work hard for days, weeks, months and sometimes years for that “one opportunity”. That one shot. That one chance. It may be a fortunate encounter in an elevator. It may an interview with a “Fortune 100” firm, it may be election night. For me, it may be an opportunity to land a major client.

When Calvin Richardson asked me to make his suit for the 2010 Grammy Awards, we had known each other for about 6 months. We ran into each other occasionally. We texted occasionally. We were acquaintances, but we weren’t  really friends. In fact when he called me, it was last minute. But he called because I had been preparing for the sprint. Every time he had seen me, I was in a suit. I represented my brand. Without me knowing, he was watching and gaining trust in me. When he called me, we had exactly a week to make it happen. We made it happen, and he was named “Best Dressed on the Red Carpet”. I had practiced for months, and I had a week to run my race. Not only on the race, I set a record.

I also failed at another race I didn’t realize I was racing in. I failed to prepare for the success. Having someone wear your clothing at the Grammy’s is a big deal for any designer; let alone for someone with only 17 months experience and no training. But to actually have your client be awarded for being the best dressed is a once in a lifetime opportunity. One that could have set me on a far more expedited path towards success. But I had no PR or media relations team. I had no media connections. I was a construction entrepreneur – turned self-taught clothing designer. I had just beat the odds and designed an award winning suit for the Grammy Awards; and NOBODY knew it. I missed a golden opportunity because that was a race I had not prepared for. I had a short window to capitalize on it, and I missed it. I wasn’t ready for the sprint, and when the starter’s gun went off, I couldn’t even get off of the blocks. I failed miserably.

Fortunately, God has seen fit to allow me to enter more races. And I’ve won  my fair share of them. But I still lose a lot of them too. I’m not the only person that prepares for these races. My peers do too. I have to prepare every second of every day to be prepared for that opportunity. Our races won’t be run on a track. They will be in life and in the workplace. Our starter’s pistol will be the opening of an elevator, a chance meeting in line at the market, or an unexpected phone call, text or email.

Opportunity doesn’t knock anymore. It sends out a mass email, and the first one that replies, and is ready to race, usually wins. Are you ready for your 10 seconds? If you’re not, trust me, someone else is. Until next time…..

God bless and dress well.

William Wilson, CEO

William Wilson Clothing

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