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

 

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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How Would Dr. King Feel If He Came Back Today?

Photo shoot 1 017 (resized)Today we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday. A day truly deserving of celebration. We will be inundated with an endless array of powerful quotes, facts about his life, and undoubtedly innumerable references to the movie “Selma”. All of which are due a man the caliber of Dr. King. But are we TRULY showing respect, or just giving in to the moment and making ubiquitous posts. I can not, nor do I desire to, judge the heart of any particular person posting what they choose on their chosen social media platform. But what I CAN do is make a observation of social trends and behaviors.

Let me preface by saying, I truly expect a backlash for this post. But, I’m ok with that. It won’t be the first, or the last, time. Here’s what I surmise. Today we’ll read EVERY powerful quote Martin Luther King ever made. Tomorrow, we’ll act like we’ve never heard of him. This is the unfortunate truth. Tomorrow we will go back to living our lives and doing the same things we always do. This is really sad. When I listen to the speeches of Dr. King and what he wanted from society, I look at today and I ask myself, “Would he be happy, or disappointed, if he could come back for one day?” I think both. America has made some incredible improvements since his assassination. Blacks can go to any school they want. We can sit, eat, pray, party, and work wherever we want. We are (at least on paper) equal as a society. Not only can little black boys and little white girls be friends; they can date, marry (or not) and produce bi-racial babies that can become President of the United States. On THAT front, I think he would not only be pleased. He would be overwhelmed! We have what he always wanted; a chance to be treated equal.

But I also think he would be beyond disappointed. The way we use “the N-word” to describe each other. The way we refer to women as “B”s and “H”s in music and television. The number of children raised in single family homes. The legislation that is engineered to create and maintain an invisible, but very real, ceiling on minorities. And the barely digestible trash we produce for ourselves on television (IE Real Housewives of LA, NJ AND ATL, Love and Hip Hop, Basketball Wives, The Bachelor/ Bachelorette and a host of others). I wonder how he would feel to know that parts of our society is completely fine with reality TV shows that depict African American women as catty, argumentative, and overly aggressive drama queens that are more likely to get into a fight at a fine dining establishment than pay the bill. Yet they are appalled and insulted once the SAME type of show involves their Greek letter organizations. What does it say when we are more upset to have our organizations demeaned, than our character as a people. What does that say about our pride as people. As Americans, and as Christians (or whatever faith you practice). If Dr. King spent a complete day with any one of us, at the end of the day would he say, “You make me proud.” or “You break my heart.”? I know many of us aren’t going to be honest with that question. But deep inside, you know the truth.

If we REALLY want to respect not only Dr. King, but ALL of the brave men and women, black and white, that fought, bled, cried and died ALL to have equal rights, we must be respectful to each other, as we want others to respect us. We need to stop bringing ourselves down as a nation, as a society and as a culture. We must stop being afraid of each other as blacks and whites, and start spending more time getting to know each other. Most fear doesn’t come from actual danger, it comes from lack of personal, first-hand encounters. We should stop striving to be better than the community, and make the community better. Just because we have a African American president DOES NOT make America “post-racial”. It’s ironic that I’ve never heard a person say that that actually VOTED for President Obama.

America has made amazing inroads towards racial relations. With each generation, race becomes less of an issue. Many of the racial obstacles that once hindered minorities from advancing have all but been eliminated. But some were placed onto others. We’ve now turned our hatred towards homosexuals, Muslims, and Hispanics. They deserve the same rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as the rest of us. We don’t have to always agree with each other’s opinions, religions, or politics. But we should, at least, respect them. And we cannot vilify an entire race or religion for the inhumane, and egregious, actions of a radical few. After all, when we look back out our own histories, EVERY race has had some radicals that we do not want to be connected to. Treat others as we would have them treat you. At the end of the day, that’s all Dr. King was dreaming about. Equality. It’s that simple. If you REALLY want to show respect to Dr. King on his day, get out of your comfort zone and talk to someone that isn’t like you. If you’re straight, talk to a homosexual. If your Christian go talk to a Muslim. Who knows, you may walk away with a new friend. And God would be pleased. 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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Success Requires Separation

William Wilson ThinkingStaying ahead of your competition keeps them from being your competition. You must always be at least one step ahead of your competition at all times in order to separate yourself. Michael Irvin once said, “A receiver doesn’t have to be the biggest, the fastest, or the strongest. If his quarterback can count on him to create 12″ of separation at any time, and catch the ball, he can have a long career in the NFL.” Business is the same way.

You must be able to separate yourself from your competitors. You must be able to answer this question:  “Why should I use you over someone else?”  Your answer must prove you to be one of three things: first, better, or different. Either be the first one doing it, do it better than everyone else, or have a different means of doing it. If you aren’t one of these things, you’re either the status quo, or you’re less. That’s not to say you can’t still find some level of success. It will just be more difficult.

I’m an aggressive businessman. I take risks. I try new things. And I consistently b20140715_210445ite off almost more that I can
chew. Sometimes I actually do bite off more than I can chew. I am constantly trying to find ways to expand the William Wilson brand, or provide a service to my existing clients to separate me from other clothiers. Getting the client is just the first of three steps. I must  retain the client, and get the client to refer me to their peers. To do that, I have to do what I say I’m going to do. And if I make a mistake, I must fix it. Sometimes I have to take ownership of a mistake I DIDN’T make, just to keep the client happy. It’s often better to eat a little pride, than to win a battle that costs you a client (and their potential referrals). Business is not an arena for emotional people. The moment you start making business decisions, based on emotion, is the moment you begin counting down the days until your business is shut down.

I proactively look for ways to offer more for my clients, and to enhance the client experience at William Wilson Clothing. Whether it’s adding a poker table and chess sets,  TVs and XBoxes, or custom made belts made of exotic skins; I am always looking to stay 2 steps ahead of those who operate in my arena. When someone walks into my showroom, I want them to think, “Wow, this is impressive. This is the guy who should be making my suits.” I’m constantly trying to find ways to first, better, or different. Until next time……

God Bless and Dress Well,

William Wilson, CEO William Wilson Clothing

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A Heart Felt Thank You

William Wilson ThinkingI usually post about my thoughts on business. But today I’m doing something different. This post is all about you guys.

I want to thank you all for your support, and help in growing William Wilson Clothing into the brand it is today. Thank you for the lessons you’ve taught me, and for all the encouragement. William Wilson Clothing will be 5 years old in November. I started it with no clothing, retail or apparel experience. I’ve never taken a fashion class, and I knew no one in the business. By all accounts, I was completely unqualified to be a clothing designer; let alone clothing for celebrities. I was totally lost, and I should have failed.  You guys have no idea how many times I was swinging in the breeze, and you came through for me when I needed you most. From volunteering at my golf event, to commenting on my blogs, to congratulating me when I posted news on social media, to purchasing my clothing and coming to my speaking events, you guys have been there.

Contrary to popular belief, there are times that I am down. Times that I feel completely lost. And times that I scared out of my mind that an idea won’t work. There were times I thought I was spinning my wheels, and just before I decided to pull the plug on a project, one of you would tell me “Keep up the good work.” or “You’re an inspiration.” You always came through when I needed it. You have always had my back, and that is something I could NEVER repay you for.

I even want to thank my “haters”. Yes, I want to thank you too. You made me pay attention to every single detail. You kept me on my toes. And thanks to your incessant critique, ridicule and negative comments, my brand is much stronger than it ever would have been without you. I’m sure you probably didn’t mean to, but you made me better. You made my company better.

At the end of the day, there’s nothing special about me. I’m a country boy, from a small town, in Arkansas. I live my life simple, because it’s what I understand. Growing up, all I had was a hope and a dream. When I see what God has done for me, it’s overwhelming. Sometimes I wake up in the morning, and as I lay in bed and look out at the Charlotte skyline, I find myself crying. Not from sadness. But from disbelief. I can’t believe my life. I can’t believe what God has done for me. I can’t believe the amazing support system (and that includes you) God has put in my life. I’m not overly gifted. I’m just a guy with ideas. And thanks to AMAZING people like you all, some of those ideas have come to fruition. I could never had done this without you. This has been an incredible journey so far. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I don’t know how long the success will last. And I can’t possibly imagine where this will go. But what I do know is, whereever this goes, I want God to be there. And I want you guys to be there too. I love you guys. And thank you again for all of your support. Until next time…..

God bless and dress well!

William Wilson, CEO

William Wilson Clothing

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