CurArte ITS SOCIAL FUNCTION: AS A SOURCE OF KNOWLEDGE AND INFORMATION, AS AN EXPRESSION OF THE IDEAS AND FEELINGS OF THE ARTISTS.

Breaking

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Art Of The Brand: Winston-Salem Artrepreneur Makes T-shirts For HBCUs And More

  


Quentin Jackson has a backwards business story.

Most artists you talk to say they hate the business side of the art business, but Jackson, the owner of Q Jackson Apparel Co., LLC, feels the opposite.

"I fell in love with the business part," he said, laughing.

After graduating from North Forsyth High School in 2006, Jackson, 32, started at Winston-Salem State University as an art major.

"What got my feet wet in business was they didn't have an art club, and I started one," he said. "And it was a bunch of getting papers signed and getting approvals, and I found I liked that."

A photographer friend told him about trademarks, and he learned marketing, selling and business practices by watching YouTube videos.

"I had to learn how to sell, market and make websites," Jackson said. "A lot of it was a learning process."

He recently added a new video online: an interview with Darren "Big Baby" Brand. Brand, a comic based in Charlotte, tours and writes for MTV's "Wild 'n Out."

In the video, Brand wears a T-shirt sporting the QJAC logo, and Jackson wears the Winston Tee.

The Winston Tee is also advertised in a slick YouTube video that shows people in various Winston-Salem landmarks: Bailey Park, a rooftop with RJR smokestacks in the background. The shirt itself bears references to Winston-Salem: Grove Avenue, the Peanut House, Carver High, Atkins High, Tre-4.

Jackson has product accounts with a number of colleges and universities, including N.C.A&T, N.C. Central University, and Johnson C. Smith University.

Lauren "Lo Loves" Everett, who owns an entertainment production company called Lo Unfiltered, started out wearing Jackson's shirts as a brand ambassador. She now gets shirts from Jackson that she uses in her promotions.

"He is amazing to work with. He's timely, and he is great at communicating," she said. "Even if we don't have something going business-wise, he calls every week to see if I need anything."

"I just added Norfolk State and Savannah State," Jackson said. And he is working on Wake Forest University, "But COVID-19 slowed things down a lot.

"It hasn't slowed down by online sales, but at games, homecomings and campus events, you get to meet your customers. If I want to stay relevant, I know I've got to be responsive and look good online."

Francis Chise, chief executive of Dream U Event Planning and Marketing, is Jackson's digital media marketing manager, handling his Facebook and Instagram accounts.

"Quentin is ambitious, energetic and easy to work with," Chise said. "He has a goal in mind about how he wants his brand to look, and he's always looking for a way to build it. He's one of my best clients, because he is hands-on with his company."

A bump in the road

Jackson started an LLC in 2016 called simply 105 Clothing, for the 105 historically black colleges and universities in the U.S.

"It was going pretty good for a year or two," he said. "But when I applied for a trademark, Levi's jeans started sending me letters threatening trademark infringement." Levi's has a line of jeans branded 501.

When he couldn't ignore the letters any longer, Jackson consulted with a lawyer who advised that while he might win a case against Levi's, the jean giant would most likely tie him up in court for years.

Jackson eventually compromised with Levi. He explained the meaning of 105 to them, and all agreed to the 105 HBCU trademark.

Q Jackson Apparel Co., LLC, comprises two brands: 105 HBCU, which Jackson markets to historically black colleges and universities; and QJAC, which is for more general audiences.

"I was asked to do something for Winston-Salem Pride. I didn't want to do it under the HBCU brand, so I used QJAC," Jackson said. "The point of going into business is to do what I want to do."

Attitude of gratitude

He acknowledges the help he got starting out: "Kevin Gates, who makes apparel in his shop, Winston-Salem Tees, gave me apparel advice. Dean Quiester Craig at N.C. A&T University told me how to get a collegiate license."

Having a collegiate license lets an apparel maker put a hologram on their clothing that tells the buyer that royalties are going back to the school. It also shows that the maker has permission to use the school's imagery, and it hasn't been poached from the internet.

"And I don't have to prove to a school that I'm licensed, because I'm in a database," he said. "Fayetteville University found me in the database and asked me to do 500 shirts." Sadly, he said, that was early in his career, and he wasn't yet prepared to do that many shirts.

He can do it now. He designs the shirts in Winston-Salem, sometimes calling in a Charlotte artist, Jordan Daniel. "If I need something hard, I get him to do it," Jackson said. He has them manufactured in Raleigh.

He's takes particular pride in his customer service. "I interact with everybody on social media," Jackson said. "And I send everything first class. You'll get a shirt from me within four days of shipping.

"I want you to get it fast, and it's good quality, so I get a lot of comeback customers."

Jackson said that he wishes his grandmother, Wilhelmenia Pledger, was still around to witness his success. She passed away in September. "She was strong-minded," he said. "She would have been proud of the business."
Q Jackson Apparel Company

Quentin Jackson wears a Q. Jackson Apparel Company white Winston Tee on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020, at Bailey Park in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Allison Lee Isley Winston-Salem Journal Q Jackson Apparel Company

Quentin Jackson holds a Q. Jackson Apparel Company navy QJAC shirt on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020, at Bailey Park in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Allison Lee Isley Winston-Salem Journal Q Jackson Apparel Company

Cordarius Leak wears a Q. Jackson Apparel Company gray Eagles Fly High NCCU shirt on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020, at Bailey Park in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Allison Lee Isley Winston-Salem Journal Q Jackson Apparel Company

Cordarius Leak wears a Q. Jackson Apparel Company gold QJAC shirt on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020, at Bailey Park in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Allison Lee Isley Winston-Salem Journal Q Jackson Apparel Company


Quentin Jackson wears a Q. Jackson Apparel Company white Winston Tee on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020, at Bailey Park in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Allison Lee Isley Winston-Salem Journal Q Jackson Apparel Company

Cordarius Leak wears a Q. Jackson Apparel Company gold QJAC shirt on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020, at Bailey Park in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Allison Lee Isley Winston-Salem Journal Q Jackson Apparel Company

Quentin Jackson wears a Q. Jackson Apparel Company white Winston Tee on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020, at Bailey Park in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Allison Lee Isley Winston-Salem Journal Q Jackson Apparel Company

Cordarius Leak wears a Q. Jackson Apparel Company gray Eagles Fly High NCCU shirt on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020, at Bailey Park in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Allison Lee Isley Winston-Salem Journal Q Jackson Apparel Company

The tags on a Q. Jackson Apparel Company navy QJAC shirt on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020, at Bailey Park in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Allison Lee Isley Winston-Salem Journal -- HIDE VERTICAL GALLERY ASSET TITLES -- (copy

No comments:

Post a Comment