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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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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