How are you inspired by your roots?
Being born in Honduras, I was raised to not take no for an answer. I was taught to pursue everything, find out anything I don’t know and make stuff happen. Caribbean work ethic is serious. Then being raised in New York gave me the advantage of hustle.
What is the role of fashion in your life? How has it evolved over time?
Back in high school, I didn’t really understand fashion although I had a passion for it. Art was my first love. Through that, I grasped colors. When I got into fashion school, I learned about the dynamics of fabrics, patterns, linings and other aspects of clothing then use them as an expression of myself. When I put on my first suit, it felt like the first time I drove a car after getting my license and then compliments kept coming. I feed off that energy to build my confidence.
You have a background in design and marketing. How did that come together with your interest in fashion?
I was a graphic design minor in high school and major at FIT, so it's always been part of what I was doing. It goes hand and hand. I create the collateral for my company now as well as our media kits, lookbooks, proposals, and the website. As an entrepreneur, I'm able to save a lot of money because I understand user experience due to being in the design industry for about seven years.
How did you transition from graphic designer to fashion designer?
It was challenging because I originally thought I had to make a choice. At one point, I believed graphic design was my purpose. But I paid attention to the signs, and they all told me to pick fashion. I could always go back if it didn't work out. I knew quitting the job I was going to just to collect a check would mean I could put 100% into Garçon Couture. During that transition, every day I designed or did the minutiae to get momentum going, especially marketing-related tasks. Our revenue tripled from dedicating 75% of my time to what I did as a graphic designer. I had been asking myself which one to go with, but ultimately, I didn't really have to choose.
What have been the biggest sacrifices and most rewarding aspects of being an entrepreneur?
Last year, there was no brunching. I missed out on going a lot of places with friends because of my budget. I had to pour money into the company and make sure my rent was paid. A lot of people also don't understand the sacrifice of time that comes with entrepreneurship. It's not 9-5. It's 24/7. So, it isn't just the money aspect. You have to be disciplined about who gets your minimal social time because every minute still matters. On the other hand, seeing a seed I planted grow has been amazing. And my client's reactions are unmatched, especially the stories they come back and tell us about moments they'll never forget.
What makes your partnership with Jean work?
We were college roommates for two years and have always gotten along. We went off to do our own things, me at FIT and him working in menswear, but kept in contact. After a while, we asked why don't we just come together to create a line. He had wisdom from years of experience in retail. I brought an entrepreneurial mindset, marketing skills, and a large network. Because we've known each other so long, we know each other's strengths, weaknesses and how to work together. Communication, transparency, and honesty are what we live by. We speak to each other every single day.
Why did you guys decide to offer a completely bespoke experience with Garçon Couture?
We felt like that's what the fashion industry was missing. There are other bespoke fashion brands, but not to our level. We have over 1,000 fabrics and very unique pieces with an emphasis on quality. When we do red carpet events, our clients are more often than not named best dressed. We want our "regular" clients to feel the same way. Achieving a perfect fit isn't to be downplayed. Doing bespoke right keeps them coming back over and over again.
What's your favorite part of the bespoke process?
When a client gets what we call "The Garçon Couture Effect." That's the boost clients get from being complimented the moment they put the suit on until they take it off. It happens all the time and fuels my passion. I experience this too because I only wear Garçon Couture. After spending my whole life wearing other people's clothes, I'm happily a walking billboard for my own.
Garçon Couture is based in New York and Miami. How do you manage two locations?
The Grand Central office opened May 2017 and Miami Gardens opened May 2018. So we're still learning, but the needs are different. Clients at both locations are into the decorative shirts, pants, and suits, but Garçon South clients are choosing from lighter fabrics, brighter colors and aren't buying coats. Because of this our marketing efforts have to be targeted. However, it's a challenge because we have a single Instagram profile. We rely on copy variations to reach the desired demographic with a resonating message.
Garçon Couture's two year anniversary will be here before you know it. What's your proudest moment thus far? What's the next milestone you all are working towards?
We've served over 300 clients since opening and 60 weddings, which is absolutely amazing. We dressed Caleb McLaughlin for The Emmys and GQ Awards. He won best dressed for both. Omari Hardwick also wore our jacket in a Gentleman's Jack campaign. Looking ahead, we'll be launching our shoe collection soon. Think monk straps, wingtips, and loafers.
What's on the horizon for you?
I want to do more speaking engagements. I also started working on a men's etiquette book. I think it's needed for men today to know the ins and outs of appearance and behavior for all situations. I wish I would've had one gifted to me when I graduated from college.
How do you stay motivated as your strive to achieve your goals?
The motivators are always changing, but it's so important to be consistent. I read a lot of books (consider audiobooks if you struggle with reading physical books) and listen to a lot of podcasts from entrepreneurial influencers like Gary Vee and Daymond John. I keep positive people around me. All of my negative friends have been removed and I'd suggest you do the same. Lastly, support is a huge thing - me supporting others and others supporting me. That flow keeps me going.