Aaron “Big A” Simmons is driven by the idea of success and inspiring his sons. The Newport, Rhode Island, native and former athletic trainer made a choice to do more with his life. His decision helped him launch his apparel brand, Dope Duffle. Simmons has collaborated with NBA champions Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson and his work ethic has opened up a lane unique to him. Rolling out spoke with Simmons about how he evaluates success, what goal setting looks like and why fashion was the road he decided to take.
What inspires you to work at your highest level?
What inspires me to work at my highest level is knowing where I came from. I’m from Newport, Rhode Island. You are either rich or poor and I definitely wasn’t rich. My father is also a big reason that I work at the highest level possible. He always wanted to be an entrepreneur and had great ideas but never got the opportunity to make it happen. That’s what inspires me to follow through and do it all while I can. I want to show my sons that if you can see it, you can achieve it.
Describe how you set goals and evaluate your success.
I set goals daily. Everyday is a new start. It’s good to plan, but tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. My success is measured by the goals I achieve each day. I make a list of three to five things to accomplish daily. If I can achieve what I set out to do, that’s a successful day
Why were bags and fashion the lane you decided to take?
I’ve been involved in fashion since 1993. I started out managing a retail chain called EXPRESSIONS in Newport, Rhode Island, My cousin Todd Quarles owns 39 EXPRESSIONS stores across the New England area and he showed me the blueprint of the apparel game in the early ’90s. Instead of selling other big brands, I chose to create my own. In 2014, I started the Ascend Athletix brand as an athletic apparel bags and accessories brand. I chose to specialize in smell-proof bags for the athletes that I was training. I kept hearing my clients complaining about their shoes and gym clothes stinking up their cars, so I created a sports bag that prevented the odor from leaking out the bag. There’s no other athletic brand that provides this feature.
In 2018, I launched the luxury lifestyle brand Dope Duffle, which also specializes in smell-proof bags athleisure apparel and accessories. Providing fly luxury bags and apparel that fit your everyday lifestyle is what we want to do for our customers.
What is the motto that you live by?
Driven on positive energy.
What do you know now that you wish you had known sooner when building your business?
I wish I would have known to spend more money on marketing.