GROWING UP: I was born in Newark, NJ and grew up in North Jackson, Ohio. I attended Youngstown State but left before graduating to go to New York to be creative.
CURRENT GIG: I am a Furniture Designer. I recently built all the Sprinkles Cupcakes stores around the country.
EXPERIENCES WITH RACE: We were the only black family in a rural town in Ohio. There were many incidents. My father was very protective over us and talked with us about what everything meant. People burnt crosses and things on the lawn. I learned a lot in all of that. I have seen others think that black males are only good for one thing. A few years ago, I was building furniture for high end condos in New Jersey. I was recommended to a couple in those condos by the Weinsteins to make their furniture. I knock on his door and the man won’t open it. He is looking through the peephole and finally opens it. He says “you look like you should play football.” I said, “ Well, who will design your furniture?” He was surprised that I would be the one to make his furniture. I happened to be empowered enough to control that situation.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I consider myself a business man first but had to accept that I was an artist. I have a lot of responsibility with my many employees and I take it all seriously. As an artist, it was the spiritual guide that has pushed me through this and accepted who I am and embracing the beauty in it. I love to create things and am a lover of life. In all of my serious demeanor, I love comedy. It is what helps get me through all of the bumps.
Photographed by Renee McMahon