How have you managed your company during the pandemic
Although the pandemic has been challenging, it has also opened a few doors for my company. Several of my vendors and manufacturers were very lenient and has allowed us to place small quantity orders which helped us out tremendously. Usually minimum quantities were by the 1,000’s. During the pandemic, they were significantly decreased and this alone helped us survive.
The pandemic has also brought our attention to finding new and creative ways to allow our customers to physically try on glasses in-person while adhering to all of the covid safety measures. We make it standard practice to sanitize all frames using our uv sanitizer kit which up to 99.9 % of germs.
What is the most rewarding part of being an entrepreneur
For me it is most rewarding when I hear my customers react in very positive manners about the style and quality of our frame collection. To be able to get my customers “framed” in styles that they would’ve never considered had they not come to John Wesley Eyewear.
As a life-long learner, I always find it rewarding meeting and networking with like-minded professionals. It gives me the opportunity for growth and development.
How important do you feel the arts are to our community
As an small business that is family owned and operated, helping one another express themselves is pivotal in our homes and our communities. Art teaches us how to be expressive and how to communicate. Art helps to express emotions.
As a lover of the arts, fashion and music, I feel art is extremely important to our community. Art is also important to our culture. Art represents life, it brings us all closer together. Art allows us to express our individuality. Art allows us to create. We are art. It is our goal to implement the art of fashion into eyewear.
How did you know that you had what it took to work as an actor as a profession?
I am still doing it. Not giving up. Even though the path is sometimes unclear. So much of what I believe answers this question has to do with a degree of perseverance and choice. I have had seasons, multiple seasons, where there were months between actually acting in a project. Those months filled with auditions and rejection, and that can really grate on an actor. That said, it's all part of the path. I believe that the roles the we find, or the roles that find us are meant for us. No one can 'take' what is for me. That said, if I quit, I could not show up for the opportunity, for the story that is meant for my instrument. So, How? Interrogating my 'why'. And accepting that there are cycles, and that is a part of the actor/artists journey.
What does success look like for you?
Success to me looks like having more and more choice in the stories I tell and the characters I play. It looks like building my community of people whose work I love and respect and creating stories together. Looks like expanding into various modes of storytelling as a Creator/Director/Producer. It looks like Freedom. Freedom.
What stage or platform do you desire to perform and why?
When I think of stages I want to perform on Broadway and in the West End come to mind. Both in a limited run of a play that I LOVE. Maybe even a musical. I also recently did a show at 54 Below in NY, a solo concert and I would love to do more of that. Traveling to different countries on a tour.
Tell us about your book.
"Malik and the Magic Bow Tie" is about inspiration, empowerment and a wonderful relationship between a father and son. The name "Malik" comes from my son and his name means "King." When it comes to the "Bow Tie '' it's not just about style, but it also relates to a life practice, because when tying a bow tie or bow, it's often all over the place and your muscles hurt. The teachable moment of the "Bow Tie" is that you can't give up on things in life, keep going until you get it right. Moreover, the storyline is paired with spectacular illustrations from award-winning 3D illustrator, Mr. Tyrus Goshay. The book is easy to read and is crafted to encourage children to pursue their goals and dreams. It confirms that their greatness can overcome anything that they put their mind to!
What inspires you to create books for children?
One of my inspirations to become an author is a lack of Black men that are children's book authors. I wanted to write books that look like our children, but more importantly utilize writing to educate, inspire, encourage and empower. Becoming an author provides me the opportunity to use my creative side to reach children across the world, even youth and adults. Being an author with a inspirational story of coming from many challenges and persevering through a lot to achieve where I am today, it gives me the ability to relate to children, youth and adults, it allows me in spaces to share my story.
How important are the Arts to the community?
The arts are not just important, they are vital. The way vessels move blood through the body, art moves culture through the community. And by that I mean the Global community. Art is the worlds most valuable commodity. It determines the way people eat, talk, dress, think and live,and its not finite like other commodities. This art of ours, Hip Hop is a phenomenon that has captivated the world in a way no other culture has. It is more than rap, it is an industry of innovation from the poorest neighborhoods and has created billionaires. Entire infrastructures that employee thousands of people. It is impossible to quantify the impact of hip hop, and I and my poetry full underneath the umbrella of it, I'd argue to say its the most important ingredient in my art, my person. Hence why I started my Non-Profit, Manifest Destiny to bring the Arts to underserved communities. Our literal tag line is 'Art Moves the City".
What makes a performance GOOD?
Sincerity. No performance is good without being heartfelt. I've performed the same poem in different moods, and they are received very differently. If your heart's not in the performance, I highly suggest you leave it alone. However, if you mean what you say and are ready to leave it all on the stage there will be an undeniable exchange of energy.