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Clavon Leonard | New York | Your Expression!!

The reason I started a business was because I was at a crossroad in my life and had went through a difficult divorce and went back to graduate school at Rutgers University. While in Graduate school I had a project to write business plan which became my business. At the age of twelve, I had a dream of seeing people walk down the runway in my clothing. I did not fully comprehend the dream then, but saw the affinity for clothing and being well dressed grow as I watched my father. Appearance was important and my father’s care for style instilled in me his own passion to express myself through clothing. The freedom I found in fashion became limited as high school required uniforms. With that restriction, then came a greater awareness of my skin color. The experiences of high school pushed me to experiment with fabrics, colors, and patterns so my skin was not the only thing standing out. In my 50s, I am finally living the dream I had as a young boy, a testament that it is never too late to pursue what you love. From my first NYFW show with the Set NY in 2014, doors began to open. In 2015, I showcased at Mercedes Benz New Zealand, Fashion Gallery NYFW, Fashion Week Los Angeles, to my stand alone show for NYFW in 2017. My designs have been featured in publications such as British Vogue, Tatler, and British GQ. I also dressed and styled Carla Hall of ABC’s “The Chew”, pop music’s Frankie Zulferino, and NFL star Jonathan Casillas. In 3 years, business has surpassed what I imagined. I do appreciate my entire team who have dedicated themselves to push this brand.

What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?

My biggest hurdle in starting up my business was financial support and marketing. I am overcoming this hurdle by seeking sponsors and people to collaborate with others in my field.

What books are you currently reading? And your recommendation for entrepreneurs to read?

The current book I am rereading is Attitude is Everything by Paul J. Meyer. I recommend this book to anyone venturing to own their own business.

Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits? How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?

I never dealt with contention from my family they fully support me but deciding to pursue my dream was a deciding factor in the ending of my marriage. It was challenging because you don't know what the future holds but it was worth it. I have no regrets. I would do more research of market and trends and take more marketing courses before starting my business.

What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?

The single most factor in my success is teamwork.

What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?

The one thing I wish I knew before getting involved in owning my business is the power of social media.

What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?

The advice I would give a new business owner is research your market, organize a social media campaign, organize a team of supporters and get a mentor.


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