Being a black small-business owner is tough. It does not matter how many years of experience in your field that you have, you just cannot shake the negative stereotypes. It is even worse when some of us buy into those stereotypes of expecting less than excellence when dealing with our own people, race and culture.
Many young black entrepreneurs are smashing these stereotypes though, including this HBCU graduate who recently launched Cole & Company Clothing, a brand that focuses on making you look great at an affordable price.
The mind behind Cole & Company is LaMarr Timothy Cole, a graduate of historically black Central State University in Wilberforce and founder of BowsByCole Bowties, Cole Creative Concepts, a creative consulting and artistic direction brand, and Cole Landscaping.
His latest achievement was making well over $1,000 on Black Friday in one day to achieve the goal he had set. “Not only did I meet that goal I surpassed it and flipped it in the process,” he told HBCU Buzz in an email. “I said to myself “Wow, if I can make that in a day then imagine what I could make tomorrow or the day after that if I kept it up.””
The significance of the barcode stems from everything in existence having its own value or worth and the current collection is easy to understand and yet strikes the eyes of the onlooker. “I love the simplicity of my collection because it makes you pay more attention to the individual wearing it. I have been told my brand at first glance looks like a luxery athletic apparel company. My font is modern, simple, and clean,” Cole said.
“I chose a holographic vinyl to add that futuristic pop that begs the question “What is fashion really supposed to look like in 2020?” Customers are attracted to the holographic and metallic fonts because it gives them the look of a superstar but at an affordable price.”
With the exception of a Collectors Edition Sweatshirt with the Metallic Gold barcode that comes in a metallic gold collectors box, Cole keeps the pricing in his online store under $50.
“It was important for me to keep prices in a range customers can afford but also have a profit model or breakdown that ensures the financial security of my businesses,” he said.
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The black college experience
“There is no doubt I would not be the LaMarr I am today without my beloved Central State. The friendships I forged there have cemented themselves as lifelong,” Cole said.
His experiences that he had with CSU’s marching band Invincible Marching Marauders took Cole to places that he had never been before like Chicago, which has become one of his favorites cities to visit.
“I have also perfromed for Earth Wind and Fire, I have performed in front of thousands of people in NFL stadiums, I have recorded a soundtrack for a black college football game and I have developed a deeper love an appreciation for black culture through homecomings, step shows, yard shows — then involving myself in various organizations that contributes, celebrates, and manifests the black college experience in America.”
Back in 2011 when CSU President Dr. Cynthia Jackson-Hammond had interviewed for the position, it was Cole who gave the leader who is stepping down at the end of the school year her first tour of the black college.
“I have assisted hundreds of high school students who eventually became college bound young men and women and decided to have Central State University as their HBCU of choice. That has been the highlight of my tenure at Central State other than my experiences with the band and my close friends.”
‘Are you in good company?’
Who knows how far Cole & Company will go but Cole sees his brand at every major retail store like Macy’s and Nordstrom in 10 years with his merchandise on a full display.
“Hopefully the concept of my current collection is timeless enough that it will drive the identity and the true meaning of value, worth and being mindful of the company you keep,” he said.
“With all good things I know I cannot do it forever. I have already developed business models for more companies I want to develop in the future. I am confident Cole & Company Clothing is here to stay and will be force to reckoned with in the eCommerce world.”
Cole’s current collection consists of the Holographic Branded Logo on sweat tops, hoodies, baby onsies, baby caps and bibs, T-shirts, long sleeve crews, and branded coffee mugs and it is exclusive so it is only going to be avalible until February in preparation for the brand’s Spring Collection launch.
“Not to give too much away but expect a pop of color, some neons, some camouflage and the quality of the merchandise improve. It is important as an individual to recognize your worth,” Cole said.
“Are you in good company?”
Follow Cole & Company on Facebook.
Follow Tommy G. Meade Jr. on Twitter @tommygmeadejr