Being labeled a P.K. (preacher’s kid) isn’t all that bad when you’re Chris Whitfield, who has defied stereotypical mindsets that often conform to the whims of society. Though Whitfield is passionate about the people in his circle, he is just as passionate about his work in the fashion industry.
Whitfield’s apparel and custom designed clothing, which is marketed under the banner of Brand Ya Lyfe, makes a statement that suggests originality of style. In fact, the young designer is most comfortable with being himself and creates custom designed clothing for the individualist.
Carlee McCullough: Thank you for taking the time to share with our readers your experience and knowledge. Tell us about Chris Whitfield?
Chris Whitfield: I am a young 29-year-old African-American male. I have my bachelor’s degree from Bethel University in Business with a concentration in Organizational Leadership and Development. I am the proud son of Bishop Michael and Lula Robinson. Yes, that’s right I am a P.K. (Preacher’s Kid). I enjoy inspiring and motivating my peers. I am very passionate about my friendships, relationships and my brand. I mostly enjoy being creative with my fashion brand as well.
C.M.: How did you get into the fashion industry?
C.W.: I took a message that inspired me throughout the years and put it on a shirt and the rest is history.
C.M.: What do you do in the fashion industry today?
C.W.: I oversee my own apparel brand and custom design clothing. I do not sew, although I wouldn’t mind learning in the near future. I also style individuals from time to time.
C.M.: What is the status of the up and coming fashion industry in Memphis?
C.W.: Well, I feel that Memphis is definitely becoming more open to the different styles of fashion that is presented. Many people are now stepping up to the plate and embracing their own sense of style. It feels good to see people step out and follow their passion in fashion. As long as we remain positive and supportive of others and their endeavors, we will definitely continue to drive in the right direction.
C.M.: What inspired you to get into the fashion business?
C.W.: I’ve always been empowered by fashion since I was younger. I would find myself designing custom pieces for my mom on special occasions. I would also play around with my own style and customize things for myself. Once I noticed that I love to be original, it all started to make sense. Upon finishing college, I adopted the message entitled, “This Is Not A Game.” It meant so much to me and I used it a few times and realized this message is for the world. So I paired it with fashion and it went from there.
C.M.: What are the necessary elements that go into a successful business?
C.W.: Professional Branding, Marketing, Excellent Communication Skills and Originality.
C.M.: How would you describe your artistic and creative style?
C.W.: I have a very simple yet sleek style. I like to be original with an emphasis on details. I definitely believe that the person makes the outfit and not the outfit makes the person. As long as I can be “ME” in whatever I have on, that is what makes what I have on actually stand out. If that makes sense… I love to be able to connect with others through my apparel. It’s like sending a message through fashion without saying anything. I call it a fashionable voice with no sound.
C.M.: What emerging trends do you see in fashion industry?
C.W.: I feel the vintage style is making a total comeback. For example, baby doll dresses, gown style fitted skirts and dresses that are being worn by ladies now. Men are definitely trending toward a more fitted and custom style suit. Plaid is becoming popular for the professional gentleman and classy women now more than ever. I also see the retro look for the younger generation. This is making a popular statement in today’s society as well. Black is the new favorite color and leather is the new favorite material to either wear or use when designing clothing.
C.M.: What are the components to bringing a concept to market?
C.W.: I like to shop the concept around to some of my celebrity stylist, industry friends and other stylish individuals. I feel if they will wear it, or style it, on someone then it’s definitely a GO.
C.M.: As a business owner, what is your greatest reward?
C.W.: I would have to say seeing my apparel make an impact on others is one of the joys in what I do. I also love to give back. Just to be able to make a positive mark in my community means a lot to me.
C.M.: What’s most challenging as a business owner?
C.W.: Making sure I am being the best business individual I can be. I believe in meeting the needs of my customers when it comes to providing a service.
C.M.: What’s most challenging as a business owner in Memphis?
C.W.: Remaining relevant and innovative.
C.M.: What’s your overall goal in this industry?
C.W.: I plan to grow and expand throughout the world. I want to not only make an impact on my community but the world as well.
C.M.: Any closing remarks?
C.W.: I want to challenge everyone to pursue every passion and purpose that is within them. I read a quote some time ago that states, “We are all inventors, each sailing out on a voyage of discovery, guided each by a private chart, of which there is no duplicate. The world is all gates, all opportunities.” Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Just walk through the doors.”