It started with a pair of sneakers.
I noticed early my freshman year of high school how fly all the upper classmen's kicks were and realized I needed to step my shoe game up. I went to Foot Locker with my mom and picked out a pair of high top British Knights, with the strap. When I went to school the next day, I wore tube socks pulled way down so I could fold the toe of the sock back up over the top of my foot. It wasn't comfortable, but those tongues had to stay popped! I kept the straps unstrapped, eliminating the need for them completely but adding to the style. I got a lot of looks. Some approving, but most like,
What the f@*k does that white boy think he's doing?
I didn't know the phrase yet, but I discovered the idea:
Own your look.
Even when your social studies teacher lets you know that Brooklyn Knights, or BKs, used to be called Blood Killers by Crips in LA, and you suddenly understand a lot of those ‘wtf?!’ looks….
I experimented with just about every look in the book (except for goth-- I never did goth…). I did thug life, with oversized t-shirts and baggy jeans stuffed into high top sneaker tongues. I did preppy, with pastel sweaters over polo shirts, khakis and boat shoes. I did jock, with letter jacket, cargo shorts and trainers. I did skater, I did snowboarder, I did punk, I did office professional.
I’m still experimenting with my style, combining looks from the past with trends from the present. And while I’ve become more consistent with my mode, I don’t ever plan on stopping that experimentation. That’s what I love about fashion: it’s constantly changing with the times, adapting to the occasion or event, becoming unique to your individual personality and attitude when you wake up and get dressed in the morning. It’s there for everyone on the street to judge but yours and yours alone to rock and own.
Careers don’t work the same way as fashion.
A successful career requires years of consistent experience. Like so many of my fellow Millennials, I’ve spent years bouncing around from job to job, trying to figure out what I will wake up excited to do every morning, stoked to put in the time required for building into a career. I started college in engineering, then studied business, and ended up with a degree in fashion, with dreams of starting my own clothing line and opening my own brick and mortar store.
Real life did as real life does and dashed those dreams as I struggled to pay the bills after college.
I served and bussed in restaurants, monitored dogs at doggy daycare, taught swim lessons, tutored middle school math, made sandwiches at a sandwich shop, worked at a pet store, a liquor store, and a sporting goods store, and managed fashion based retail stores. I’ve worked for small, local businesses and huge, national corporations. I was depressed with the thought that I would never find my ‘calling’ and grow old drowning in a sea of entry-level positions...
Until I found Spruce.
I walked in one night to ask if they were hiring. They were not, but graciously asked me to come inside to walk through and give pointers on a haunted house they were putting together for the upcoming Halloween weekend. I was drawn in by the atmosphere of the store, not because Halloween is one of my favorite holidays and the haunted house was killer, but because the whole Spruce team was having a great time together, at work. Having fun and enjoying being at work was not a notion I was all that familiar with.
I was able to become a part of that team as a temporary, seasonal employee over the winter holidays. That turned into an ‘on-call’ position, covering shifts when I could, and then a permanent, part-time position as a style consultant. I continued pushing to become a more integral part of the Spruce team, and today I am writing my first blog post under my handle @HighEndTight. I still work as a style consultant, and I am excited to start barber school this upcoming Fall semester. As it turns out, real life did not dash my dreams-- it merely put them on hold for a bit while I found the right avenue in which to manifest.
Life is a beautiful struggle.
People search through the rubble for a suitable hustle.
Some people usin’ the noodle, some people usin’ the muscle,
some people put ‘em both together make it feel like a puzzle.
Self-confidence and a commitment to yourself are key ingredients to success in life on both a personal and professional level. A person's self-confidence relies significantly on how they look and feel.
My mission as @HighEndTight is to empower young men in Denver to look and feel great by providing them with advice and information from the city's most stylish and sartorially-inclined. Once you’ve found your mode, whether style-wise or career-wise, be confident in it.
Commit to it.