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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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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The 3 Children of Assumption

WilliamWilson-1186-2660233048-OI was given a piece of advice by a good friend of mine named Tom Fehlman. He said “Always try to prove your assumptions wrong.” This advice is PRICELESS. When you have an assumption, it’s easy to prove yourself right. But if you turn it around and try to prove yourself wrong, you’ll ask yourself a completely different set of questions, and subsequently, may even see things from a different perspective. Assumptions can be one of the most dangerous things a person can do regarding success, because it’s not the assumptions that get people in trouble. It’s acting upon them without verifying first. Assumption gives birth to 3 children that will destroy your business, or personal, life.

1. Assumption is the Mother of Mis-communication: When you assume you already know what someone thinks, or is going to say, you don’t fully listen to them. You have your response already in your mind before they finish their sentence, and will usually cut the person off mid sentence. Or worse, instead of asking the question first, we act off of our assumptions and exacerbate situations. Take the time to fully listen to what someone has to say. THEN verify what you heard and what they said align. It will will prevent costly mistakes down the road.

2. Assumption is the Mother of Inefficiency: When you think you already know what you need to do, or how to do it, you tend to not read the instructions; and important, time-saving information is missed. It’s like not reading the assembly manual, but instead, putting something together our own way. We somehow always end up with extra parts when we’re done. And thus time, energy and potentially money is wasted going back to find out what we did wrong. Learn the rules, directions, expectations and process BEFORE you start a project or journey. It will save a lot of time and headaches.

3. Assumption is the Mother of Failure: Most people fail because they lack the necessary information needed to succeed. They think they know everything, so they do it their way. Often with poor, or incomplete data, lack of preparation, or bad timing. Either way, when you act upon assumptions without proper verification, you set yourself up to fail. Hopefully, you will recognize this and correct yourself before you’re too far into the process. But if you don’t, there will come a point when you’re too far gone to fix it. Don’t assume. And if you do, take the time to ask anyway. It’s better to take an extra 30 minutes to do it right, than another 2 weeks to do it over. Until next time…..

God Bless and Dress Well,

William Wilson, CEO William Wilson Clothing

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What The McDonald’s Drive Through Taught Me About Success

William Wilson ThinkingThere are life lessons all around us, if we are just conscious enough to pay attention. Yesterday, I made the 2 and a half hour drive to Campbell University to deliver the coach’s and training staff’s sideline pants to them. I was famished, but I was also ready to get back home, so before I drove back, I stopped by the local McDonalds.

I was going to go through the drive through. Why not? It’s convenient, It’s easy. I don’t even have to get out of my car. All I have to do is roll my window down and talk. I get exactly what I want, with minimal effort. There was a fairly long line ahead of me; so at the last minute. I thought to myself, “I wonder how many people are waiting in line inside?” So I parked and went inside. When I got inside, guess what I saw? NO ONE! There wasn’t a single person standing in line. I ordered my food, and was back on the road before a single car had advanced in the drive through line. Lesson taught and learned.

This is how many of us treat success. We want it to just happen. We want to put in just enough to say we’re working. We don’t mind working hard. But we don’t want to work “too hard”. We don’t want to be inconvenienced on our way to success. We don’t want to have to sacrifice the club, parties, ball games or relationships. We want to do our thing AND be successful as soon as possible. In essence, we want to go through the drive through. Success doesn’t happen. You have to put in the extra work. You have to do what others don’t do, to get what others don’t have. There’s rarely any traffic on the extra mile. And, sometimes all you have to do is go inside. Just get out of the drive through line, walk inside the restaurant, and get your order. Until next time……..

God Bless and Dress Well,

William Wilson, CEO William Wilson Clothing

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