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22-year old African creates his own Shoe Company like a BOSS!

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Who is Eric Jones? Introduce yourself.

My name is Eric Jones and I’m a 22 years old African American man from Helena, Arkansas(very small underrepresented town). I now reside in Fayetteville, Arkansas where I went to college and launched my company.
Growing up in Helena wasn’t easy at all. My family wasn’t the most fortunate and the city was filled with violence. Living in a house with holes in the walls, roaches and rats for a while was really tough. My daily childhood routine was to go to school, work, then Home to help take care of my grandmother. My grandmother ended up passing in 2010, followed by my father in 2013. Then I also lost my biggest source of support to unforeseen illnesses only weeks before I graduated college in 2016. My best friend and the only reason I was able to start my shoe company, my mother. She never got to see me sell a pair of shoes.
 
 
 

What is your passion in life?

I’m very passionate about inspiring and motivating my people. I’m all about showing people that they can do something positive and be successful in life no matter where you come from or what you’ve been through.
 

What is your occupation?

My profession is: full time entrepreneur / shoe designer/ CEO / motivational speaker / Social media influencer.

How long have you been designing?

I’ve been designing shoes for 2 years. It all started when I read an article about a girl that started her own shoe company and she didn’t know anything about fashion. I figured I’d take the leap of faith since I majored in fashion, loved shoes, and could also draw. I didn’t have the funding but I just figured we would make it happen somehow.
 
 
 
 
LFLS

LFLS Like Father Like Son “to create the best quality shoes for our customers at the most reasonable price so they won’t have to break their wallets while breaking new grounds in fashion.”

 
 
 

What is your favorite Fashion Trend at the moment?

My favorite fashion trend right now would be how guys are starting to incorporate the vintage dapper look into their style. The look you’d see in the 60s & 70s.
 

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

People always ask where do I see myself in 5 years, my response is always I have no clue. Big things have been happening so fast and I feel so blessed that anything huge could happen within the next couple of months or even a year. I hope to be doing some great things to impact the world with my company. Growing my company to one of the most notable black owned men’s retailers in the world.
 
 
Eric Jones in a Vintage with a Twist setting
 
 

Do you have any other hobbies or crazy habits?

Other hobbies include: working out, styling, networking, traveling, photo shoots, playing basketball and just kicking it with friends when I can.
 

What does the Term Melanin mean to you?

To me melanin represents power. It’s crazy how the word surfaced and so many people have used it to come together as one in our culture.
 
 
 
eric jones

Eric Jones wearing his white shoes with Gold detail

 

What tips do you have for people who want to start their own business?

Tips I would have for them and any other entrepreneur is make sure you’re doing something you’re passionate about. If you’re just in it for the money you’ll drop out early on. You have to have a purpose to keep you driven through all the hard times.
 

Do you think a platform like Melanin Wonder is needed?

Yes I think the platform is very much needed. We’re all we got so we have to uplift each other and share the great things we’re all doing so we can support each other.
 

Is there enough diversity in the Fashion scene?

There isn’t enough diversity in the fashion industry at all. We need more young black men in the industry to inspires others that they can do the same. There’s nothing wrong with a man being in the fashion industry, especially if we have a killer woman by our side representing! (Still searching for my queen) hahaha *Eric laughs*

 

 

Eric Jones rocking his suit and his shoe Brand

Eric Jones rocking his suit and his shoe Brand

 

Do you have any Melanin Wonder that you look up to in the media?

I don’t really look up to anyone, I kinda do my own thing and put my own twist to my style. But if I had to choose someone it would be Jidenna.
 
 

I look at brands like Aldo, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Allen Edmonds, but I don’t have a specific brand or icon that I look up to,  I look at what’s in the market and try to add a modern twist to it.

 

In January Eric plans on having a Black Men’s Fashion Week in Dallas Texas, as well as doing philanthropy work and giving back in his hometown West Helena Arkansas as well as Fayetteville, Arkansas through scholarship opportunities, motivational speaking, and just inspiring others to live their dreams. In October, Eric will be releasing his second collection and hosting the “LFLS Soiree”  which is a local red carpet event in Arkansas to help uplift other small businesses.

 

Follow the Movement of Eric and LFLS Shoes at lflsshoes.com  on Instagram, and Facebook.

 

For more Melanin Wonder stories click here!

 

 

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    Entrepreneurship

    Why I speak their names

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     I don’t know sh&^%t

    My life as an entrepreneur started around thirteen years ago. A know-it-all 29-year-old young woman. Mother of three children. Two biological and one bonus. I had this very idealistic idea and nobody could tell me otherwise. Well, after falling flat on my face a couple of times and many sleepless nights, disappointments and heartaches came the realization that maybe I didn’t know it all at all……in fact that maybe I don’t know sh&^%t.

    This was a tough pill to swallow

    What I came to realize is that entrepreneurship is one of the most spiritual journeys you will ever be on. There is nowhere to hide, nobody to blame. You have to self-reflect on a regular, be open to change your way….basically stepping out of your own way.

    Be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Grief the people you lose along the way. Be accountable for your failures so you can transform them into success. All this and much more but the most important part is being clear about your why! Cause let me tell you guys something, there will be many many moments that you will declare yourself to be crazy for continuing.

    In all honesty, to be an entrepreneur you got to have a bit of crazy in you. I know that’s right! (In Sawaeetie’s voice)

    What will sustain you through the moments when you are frustrated, disappointed, or have to cry yourself to sleep is your purpose. It may sound like a cliche but it’s my testimony.

    My purpose was to be part of a movement, built companies to provide opportunities for ourselves so we can create them for our children. In July 2010 I wrote a poem explaining my Why. At the time we were a group of black women, mothers working together in realizing our dreams.

    It is because of you today WE RISE!!!!

    I dedicated this poem to my children and the women I was working with at the time. I would like to share it with you. It’s called We speak your names.

    We speak your names Tariq, Iyanla, Hakim, Glenn, Roli, Dwayne, Omar, Jaden, Musa, Angelina, Hadjia, Euson, Iluminee, Uriel, Khadian, Lakisha, Kimani, Melanta, Rayla, Donna, Gillion, Brandon, and all the other ones.
    We realize that we stand on the shoulders of the ones who came before us, as we are making way for the ones coming after us. We take our own responsibility so that you can stand upon our shoulders.
    It is for you that today we day we refuse to remain in the victim role and to be content with a marginal existence.
    It is for you who are growing up in these beautiful neighborhoods that we say; enough is enough.
    Enough with the labels of disadvantaged.
    It is for you that today, now (!) we stand up and act together to move forward.
    Because our dream for you is that you have freedom of choice. That your zip code doesn’t determine your study advice. 
    In ten or twenty years there must be a business network consisting of successful companies in various industries where you can have internships, get jobs, and/or subsequent take over companies.
    It is because of you today WE RISE!!!!

    Fast forward to 2021 and look at all the amazing black-owned business networks.

    Baba Kwabena told me in my early twenties that a self-respecting community should own the three E’s: Education, Economics & Enforcement.

    WE may still have a long road ahead of us but we are slowly but surely on our way. For the new entrepreneurs make sure you are clear of your why. Your purpose. Trust me there will be moments on your journey that it’s the only thing you have to hold on to. Hold on to it and keep on RISING. Our children need you. Speak their names and a new reality for them into existence.

    Ashé

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    Entrepreneurship

    Aaron West, extremely passionate about inspiring change in others

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    Can you introduce yourself?

    So, my full name is Aaron West, I am 31, Black and proud and I was born and mostly raised in Shreveport, Louisiana by my mom and grandparents. My mom moved my twin brother, little sister and I from Shreveport to Houston when I was 15 after she graduated from college and I’ve been here ever since. I would say I had a pseudo-rural upbringing in Shreveport because it was a slower city compared to Houston.

    I say this not to imply we lived on a farm and milked cows but basically Shreveport as a city was far behind what Houston was in terms of modern black culture like fashion, music etc. Upon arriving to Houston I really started to think I was living on BET because everything and everyone was so cool and fashion forward lol. My brother, sister and I played most sports growing up to stay busy and I think that is probably where I grew to love Fitness.

    What are you passionate about?

    I am extremely, extremely, extremely, passionate about inspiring change in others. I would say I simply love to see people change their bodies or achieve their fitness goals, because I’m a personal trainer, but it’s so much deeper than that. For me it’s all about helping others understand what can be done with a little effort. Nothing and no one can make me feel as I do in the moment that someone who I talked to previously about where I see them going with their body remembers that conversation while presently living in that body we talked about in the past.

    I own a personal training studio where I conduct one-on-one sessions with clients and sure we talk about fitness but it is not uncommon for us to also talk about other life goals, in-fact we probably talk about more life coaching type things than anything else, I really just enjoy helping people reach their full potential in every facet of life.

     

    Aaron ripped in front of a grafitti wall

    Aaron ripped in front of a grafitti wall

     

    What is your profession?

    My profession is complex but if I had to label it I would say I am an entrepreneur because I create things. Currently I am operating as personal trainer in my personal training studio but I have goals of becoming a motivational speaker and I also plan to start a few non-profits and other business outside of fitness.

    How long have you owned ur fitness business?

    By the grace of God my business has been open for almost 3 years. I started Almost PerFit Fitness after graduating from University of Houston and having a hard time finding what I considered a “real job”. I was still working for a local gym as a personal trainer and as a very broke post-college grad I figured that there was no better time to start a business than at the bottom, that way me and Almost PerFit Fitness( the business) literally would grow together.

    With no real business plan I simply started training clients on the side in parks for less than what they would pay at the gym but was able to pocket more than what the gym was paying me. As business grew I decided to rent a space add some fitness equipment “wollah” i was in business on your own.

     

    Aaron at the beach rocking his sunglasses

    Aaron at the beach rocking his sunglasses

     

    How do make sure your clients eat healthy?

    I usually cannot really control how my clients eat so once I design the meal plan best tailored to their needs I focus on making sure they understand how eating wrong can impact their fitness goals. I’ve found that the more they understand the better their food decisions would be. I weigh my clients in weekly to track progress towards or away from their goal and then make adjustments.

    Why start your own business?

    I would now presently answer this question with “why not?” but honestly I never considered working for myself until I realized that I was worth more than what someone was willing to pay me to do a job I could create on my own. It is actually something I heard “Master P” of No Limit records say about his decision to start independent. I don’t think entrepreneurship is for everyone but it is definitely worth a shot if you are passionate about adding value to someone’s life with a service or product.

     

    Aaron rocking his Powerful Beard

    Aaron rocking his Powerful Beard

     

    Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

    In five years I see myself in the fitness industry. I actually plan to remain in the industry for the rest of my life but as a trainer to trainers as opposed to simply a trainer. I would like to have a larger platform to help more people in various ways.

    Do you have other hobbies or crazy habits?

    Aside from working out I really enjoy photography. I actually do most of my own photography for promotional flyers, social media marketing etc with a Nikon D330. I’m a self professed student to the craft and I’m also actively learning more about editing software. Me and my girlfriend are learning a few actually to help with our couples YouTube channel.

    I have one habit that I think is pretty crazy, I am constantly stretching my body trying to get comfortable from multiple weekly workouts. I’ll be in bed literally popping and stretching until I finally fall asleep. It’s actually pretty common in the bodybuilding world and I wouldn’t say it’s painful but at every opportunity I feel the need to stretch my muscles/joints out I am probably going to stop everything I’m doing and do it, it’s weird but it feels so necessary. Other than that I’m just a guy .*lol*

    Check out his Instagram for more about his business and some stunning pictures!

     

    Aaron West entrepreneur and health coach

    Aaron West entrepreneur and health coach

     

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    Culture

    Angel Rich the Melanin Wonder named to be “The next Steve Jobs” by Forbes!!

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    Angel Rich “The Next Steve Jobs”

     

    Angel Rich, from Washington, DC, has developed a very innovative app called Credit Stacker that teaches students about personal finance, credit management skills, and entrepreneurship in a fun and engaging way. The app is so popular that 200,000 people (and growing) downloaded it to their smartphones and tablets within just two weeks of its launch.

     

    Melanin Wonder Angel was raised in Washington, DC, and graduated from Hampton University. She also studied at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, China. Way to represent her Melanin self!

    She briefly worked as a global market research analyst for Prudential, where she conducted over 70 financial behavior modification studies.

    She says that during her time there, she helped the company generate more than $6 billion in revenue. She resigned, however in 2013, to start her own company, The Wealth Factory.

    Remarkably, the app has been named the “best financial literacy product in the country” by the Office of Michelle Obama, the “best learning game in the country” by the Department of Education, and the “best solution in the world for reducing poverty” by JP Morgan Chase. It has won first place in several business competitions including the Industrial Bank Small Business Regional Competition and the Black Enterprise Elevator Pitch Competition. Angel has won more than $50,000 in business grants with her efforts.

    Her company’s Credit Stacker app is available in four languages and in 40 countries and is rapidly approaching 1 million downloads.

    Although the app is free for users to download, the revenue model is to generate money on the back-end from advertisers in addition to existing contracts. She also has a partnership with the D.C. Dept of Insurance, Securities, and Banking.

    In time, other major financial companies like NASDAQ, J.P. Morgan & Chase, Wells Fargo, and more will likely want to get on board as well

     

    Download the Credit Stacker app from the iTunes App store here, visit:
    https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/creditstacker/id1130346776

    Download the Credit Stacker app from the Google Play app store now, visit:
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.capital.creditstacker

    Follow Melanin Wonder Angel Rich on Facebook and visit www.facebook.com/wealthylifers

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