Brian C. of Original AfroWear talks Black business and support

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Brian C. of Afrowear
DJ Mustafa Rocks wearing an Original AfroWear varsity jacket – Photo Credit: Courtesy of Brian C. of Afrowear

The entrepreneurial spirit of Black people helped build this country. This spirit is one of perseverance, determination hope and accomplishment. In the face of adversity on many fronts, the success of any business, most notably Black businesses, requires a laser focus to promote longevity and success. We spoke with one of the owners of Original AfrowWear, a clothing line established in the ’90s that has managed to maintain its position in the world of fashion and promote pride in the lives of Black people.

Tell everybody who you are.
I am Brian C, co-founder and owner of Original AfroWear Clothing, born and raised in Chicago. I’m responsible for everything from design concepts and product placement to accounting. My background is in business, but I have a natural interest in clothing and how it’s put together and the whole behind-the-scenes process.

Give us a brief history of Original Afrowear.
Original AfroWear was introduced in 1996, by myself and Mustafa Abdullah (DJ Mustafa Rocks).  We started out with T-shirts and hats and have grown to become a full line (no jeans) with our manufacturer, American Needle, including custom apparel, varsity and leather jackets.  Our brand mission is to promote self-pride while staying fashionably relevant and continuing to pioneer what’s labeled as “urban streetwear.”

What are some of the highest points in your career?
Some of the highest points in my career is the example of entrepreneurship I get to set for my kids and other young brothers and sisters to know they will aspire to own and set their own destiny. Another high point is to see people wearing our clothing on the streets and television, also to see an idea become a finished product.

What does it mean to you to own and run a Black business?
It means I take interest in my community and people.  It means personal freedom and that I take full responsibility for my life and ultimately it will mean Financial Independence that I earned, to do greater things and that I’m able to pull someone else up.

Why should people support what you are doing?
It should always be rewarding to support each other but ultimately we want people to genuinely like what we’re doing and offering.  But if supporting for other reasons then they should support Original AfroWear because they’ll get the highest quality, the best art and design, great customer service and inspiration, whether to be an entrepreneur themselves or grow in knowledge of self.

What would you say is the most challenging aspect of what you do?
The most challenging is dealing with people who don’t live up to their expectations, whether a supplier, contractor, etc, so when they don’t come through, it sets you back, throwing everything off and delays progress and ultimately the business. Sometimes people do see the “bigger picture” but don’t want to do the work to get there!

How has the Internet expanded your reach?
The Internet has been a great tool.  It makes the world much smaller.  Individuals and buyers can see what you have to offer and buy or interact in real time, especially social media and our website,, not to mention money it saves money from less traveling.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Brian C. of Afrowear
Photo credit: Courtesy of Brian C. of Afrowear

What historic Black figure would you say you model yourself after? Which one inspires you the most?
It may sound cliché, but all of them, men and women, from Madame CJ Walker (Sarah BreedLove), to John H. Johnson (Ebony/Jet), who were all firsts, innovators, determined, fearless and all the attributes I embody and all should embody as a people. But my No. 1 inspiration is my grandfather, James Coleman Sr., who owned a gas station, real estate and auto body shop, which I witnessed firs hand, growing up in the Coleman and Sons auto body shop, that was on 71st and Vincennes, in Chicago.  Now, that entrepreneurial spirit is in my DNA.

What words of advice do you have for those who would like to start a business?
My advice to those wanting to start a business is know the business you’re getting into or passionate about and be a student of it.  Know the History, the present state and depending on the field, the future of it.  When you know what you’re doing, who can stop you?

What encouraging words do you have for our readers?
One word: FEARLESS!  You have to live fearlessly, get off the couch and live fearlessly!  If you want to join a chess club, do it!  If you want to climb a mountain, do it!  Stop worrying about what other people say or may think and be great!  Being fearless is the only way to accomplish your purpose while you have the chance, period!

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