Young Entrepreneur Spotlight: F. Lawson of Southern Gents

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I love meeting entrepreneurs in the industry to learn how they got their start and understand the vision behind the brand that they’ve built. Not only does it inspire me but it also gives me solace whenever I learn that their educational background is completely unrelated. Similar to my story, it’s usually someone’s passion and pure interest that drives them to a different industry.

I caught up with F.Lawson, Co-Founder of Southern Gents, to share his story, and discuss how he and his team filled a huge void in Houston, Texas!

Be The Change You Want To See In The World

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“I’m a native Houstonian, by the way of Lagos, Nigeria. I moved to Houston when I was 12 years old with my mother and older brother. While in high school, I was a member of the football and track team. There I learned a lot about teamwork and sacrifice, as well as all of the emotional, mental and physical benefits of hard work. I also had the pleasure of playing alongside current NFL athletes, Michael Bennett of the Seattle Seahawks and Martellus Bennet of the Green Bay Packers.”

“I later attended the University of Houston where I obtained my Bachelors and Masters degree in Accounting & Taxation. Shortly thereafter, I practiced public accounting for 3 years as a Certified Public Accountant,  and have since spent my career working in various privately held corporations under the same discipline.”

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“We started Southern Gents in 2012 because I wasn’t too fond of what the social scene in Houston had become. In my opinion, things felt like they started to trend downwards. Years prior, there were some really upscale venues to hang out in but I wasn’t able to indulge. At the time, I was a struggling college student barely able to make ends meet and I wasn’t old enough to get in. Therefore, when I started my career, I sought after those classy events but there were almost none to be found.

One of my favorite quotes are, “Be the change you want to see in the world”. And so I had the crazy idea to start a menswear movement to help inspire young men to dress better. I began throwing the idea around to a couple of my closest friends and family. Then, before you know it we were researching logos, filling out business paper work, and buying a web domain.

The vision was to become a lifestyle brand that ran as a menswear blog but also promoted upscale events in our city.

“In terms of our business strategy, I executed all of the photography, marketing materials, and everything else that was aesthetic related. The rest of the team handled the event planning and wrote articles for the blog. After successfully running the blog and hosting events for over a year, we decided to take our passions further and get into menswear.”

“We simply wanted to fill the void that we saw in our city. There were tons of things that we wanted but just couldn’t find at an affordable price. For instance, items such as self tie bowties, lapel pins, double monk straps, and double breasted suits were almost impossible to find 5 years ago. So creating our own brand was a no brainer!”

“We launched our accessory line in October 2013 with 5 ties, 5 bowties and 5 lapel pins. Today, Southern Gents offer a lineup of topcoats, shirts, hats, and accessories. Our footwear collection will be released this year as well.”

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“My personal goal for Southern Gents is to become a capsule collection menswear brand filled with classic, unique items that are well worth the money. Imagine a luxury brand that offers affordable clothing for the everyday man.”

“Due to my financial background, I’ve always believed that consumer’s pockets will always matter. Therefore, we are dedicated to finding a balance between remarkable quality and affordability.”

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“In terms of lessons, the biggest one is understanding that no one gives a fuck about your business. The world is just way too noisy. Herein lies the difficulty of entrepreneurship because you have to make others care. Therefore, you have to bring a great product or service to the market that fills a void in society.”

“My business partners and I have definitely had plenty of struggles but we’ve learned from all of them. Everything from communication, to lousy production, to marketing struggles, and of course the one that plagues all entrepreneurs…capital and funding. However when uncertainty and self-doubt begins to creep in, I find a lot of solitude listening to Gary Vee. He is definitely worth a listen for anyone who is dedicated to succeeding as an entrepreneur.”

“Entrepreneurship can be a very frustrating and lonely space, but you have to stay positive and appreciate the small victories. You have to learn how to adapt quickly while remaining optimistic at all times because there are only two alternatives. You can either bring your ambitions to light with all your might, or withdraw and give up on your dreams!”

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Thanks for reading, and special thanks to F.Lawson for participating!

Yours truly,

Akil McLeod
The Dapper Advisor

the dapper advisor boutique

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