Brooklyn native, April Walker, decided to overcome her fears and branch out on her own. She an author, fashion trailblazer, lifestyle entrepreneur, brand evangelist, educator, model, and health and wellness advocate. She also enjoys working out.
This queen is busy! However she realizes that her work that she is doing in the community is well worth it and has paid off. I recently interviewed her. Check it out below.
Growing up and still to this day who are your inspirations? How did they impact your life?
My mother and my father are my inspirations. I watched my mother make sacrifices for us so that we could have a better life and she was smart, organized, confident and humble. She was an example that confidence and humility can co-exist. My father was a creative that always danced to his own beat, and literally always was about following his dreams. He was always encouraging me to go after my dreams and making sure we were discovering something new. He made “being different” to the status quo look cool.
Also, in fashion, I’d say Dapper Dan and Willie Smith. I grew up wearing Willie Smith and when I discovered he was African-American, I was in awe. Dapper Dan was fearless, wore his hustle hat and was an innovator, creator and game changer. My first visit to his operation expanded my horizons. It was like the universe was speaking to me.
What age did you realize you had a passion and vision for fashion?
I don’t think I owned fashion until around the time I opened my first custom fashion shop, but in hindsight, it was always in my blood. I used to sneak out my mom’s clothing and wear her dresses and fly gear to high school and I remember I won best dressed in school. I was always was into styling and profiling, so that should’ve given me a hint…lol.
At just 21 years old you opened your first custom fashion shop, what have you the influence and confidence to do so?
I was naive to fear as a youth, and so my naivety served me well. I doubted some things, but not the vision. I believed in the vision. I saw hip hop on the rise, and no one was creating options for us in clothing (our lifestyle). I’ve always been a risk taker, and the idea of working for someone else was more scary than creating my own lane and going for it.
I felt, “What if I work for someone else and they fire me before retirement?” That scared me more than going after my dream and creating my own. I think the balance of my parents reinforced my thinking, influenced me and gave me the confidence. Also, that Brooklyn canvas is a beast. Brooklyn…we go hard!
How were you able to be financially stable going out as a independent entrepreneur in the fashion industry?
Who said I was financially stable going out as an independent entrepreneur in the fashion industry? I started my first business with $10,000 saved and a pass the hat from my folks. My first shop was with a homemade awning called Fashion In Effect that we made with foam board. The first three years, I ate more rice and bean dinners than I wish to share, but the vision was so strong that I believed, I sacrificed, and I kept reinvesting to eventually turn a profit.
Do you still remember the first custom you designed and how excited you were when you received the order?
I’d like to say yes, but no. I started in 1986 in my house and then in 1987 with my first shop. It was too long ago. I do remember how good it felt when my customers would come and order something from the store.
You’ve dressed and garnered success receiving business from big names, such as: MC Lyte, Shaggy, Run DMC, Shaq, Snoop Dogg, and Queen Latifah. How did such early success reassure your dreams and drive your brand?
It was humbling to receive business from icons and superstars, but we must remember, some of them were on their way up and not who they are perceived to be today. Still, they were successful and it was like a confirmation that I was doing something right and should stay focused on the path.
Celebrities that supported the brand and wore it gave it heightened brand awareness to the masses. When you don’t pay for an ad but have a celebrity choose to represent and wear your brand to an award show or on an album cover or video, everyone is curious and will want to know about the brand and where they can find it.
What’s the key to longevity in the fashion industry being such a steady for almost 30 years?
One of the keys is humility. It’s a good key to longevity in life. Also, practicing self-care. I learned you have to put your oxygen mask on first before you can save everyone else. Teamwork makes the dreamwork, so find good team players. You are only as strong as your team. Hone your skills and constantly try to upgrade, circle up and live in your discomfort zone. That’s where you grow.
You were recently honored by the Brooklyn Nets earlier this year. How did that make you feel about the great work you’ve done receiving such recognition?
Being honored my home team was so humbling!! As a die hard Brooklynite, it was everything. It felt so good.
How do you balance so many hats as an entrepreneur being a fashion icon, model, author, and public speaker?
I love creating so that’s a blessing to wear all of those hats but I take it one day at a time, remembering to take deep breaths. I pay attention to my energy. Also, I’ve been blessed with an amazing, efficient, and reliable team.
What great words of wisdom and success can you offer the young entrepreneurs and our readers?
Go after your dreams, hone your skills, invest your time wisely, your network creates your net worth, study your money, swing with aim, and hustle with muscle.
Your thoughts create your words, and your words will create your world, so make sure to send them in the direction you want to go. Act like it’s already yours, and get moving!
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