If you would have told me that all the too-big hand-me-downs from my childhood would be the thing to lead me here... to achievement... I would have laughed in your face. But sometimes in life it’s not the things we try to do, but the things we just do naturally that lead us to success.
Eleven-years-old, the words I dreaded to hear, “Come on, get your shoes on Michael. We gotta go to Aunt Bernice’s house. She has another batch of hand-me-downs.” Hairs on the back of my neck rose, jaw stiffened. I wanted to answer, “Seriously, Mama, you think a gay boy from the Bronx can afford to dress in second hands from Woolworth’s?” It was bad enough I was whiter than every other boy in my class, but I had been evidently gay since the fifth grade, at least. The odds were stacked against me. The only card I had to play was fashion. Make myself look so good that all the girls had to be my friend and the guys respected me for my smooth style. You see, one thing I had over all the other straight boys was an uncanny ability to operate a sewing machine.
I took those hand me downs, cut open seams, cinched in waists, stole pieces of fabric leftover from dresses my Mama made, sometimes I even stitched on designer labels cut out from other clothes (at this time I will not reveal how I obtained said labels). I was a regular Rapunzel, spinning straw into gold. When I was done with those hand-me-downs not only did they look like something from Saks, but other kids wanted to know where I shopped; how they could get the same thing. They didn’t know that I was just a boy trying not to get his teeth punched in.
I never stopped remaking those second-hand items. By the time I was a teenager, it was cool to shop the thrift stores: old leather jackets with big pointy collars, bell bottom jeans and worn out T’s. And no one shopped the thrift stores like me. Taking pieces home and reworking them into pieces of art. I was proud of my skill. Once my peers got wind of this talent, they were paying me to do the same for them. Not that I recommend this for everyone, but I skipped college and sold one of a kind’s out of my basement until I sold them online.
WholeFunding has made it possible for me to hire my own team and develop a fall line, which I’m starting to show to Saks…and that’s only one of my potential clients. I started out trying to survive; now, WholeFunding is letting me thrive.