Road Map: CLOAK

2:09 AM

Up and coming clothing line CLOAK (
has created a whole new fashion math: "Fashion + Cause = Solution" and that is exactly what this brand is about.

The CLOAK team answered my standard Road Map questions and so much more! This is a brand that is destined to become a lifestyle. For those of you who want to start your own brand with a true sense of purpose, grab your pen and take notes...

1.) What have been your Road Maps to get you to the point you have now reached in your career?

It's funny, as the CEO of CLOAK Apparel, Inc. your readers would probably expect me to have a degree in design, textiles or business; but I want to encourage anyone who has a dream to go for it. My degree is in Animal Science, Business. From a small child I wanted to be a veterinarian, but a head butt from a cow was all it took to wake me up from the "dream". I thank God for that cow (I've finally found closure). I sketched as a teen, designed my prom dress and had it custom made, I've played with a little graphic design, painted ceramics and the such, but never really saw myself as creative...and never imagined I would be leading a fashion brand. If I can do can you. However, I think the smartest thing a leader can do is surround themselves with people who make up for their weaknesses.

With that said, the CLOAK executive team is filled with talented, qualified, creative and imaginative individuals.

Terrance Wilson, VP of Creative Direction, whose education includes a Master's Degree in Fine arts and Digital Arts Media from Maryland Institute College of Art. Terrance is an award-winning artist who has held several positions leading creative teams. He has created comic books, short films and also custom designs shoes in his free time. He has a passion for young people and currently heads up a youth group dedicated to changing the lives of young people in Miami for the better.

Johanne Pradel Wilson, VP of Marketing, Branding and Design who also graduated from Maryland Institute College of Art with honors and obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a concentration in digital media and design. She also attended London Institute, Central St. Martins in the UK. Johanne owned and operated a design studio ajd worked with high-end fashion boutiques in Baltimore, MD. She has also worked for world-renown, top branding and design agencies around the world including Landor Associates. She is really passionate about fashion and is excited about the continuing journey in the industry.

Samuel Mukasa, VP of Fiscal Management whose education includes a Master's degree Economics/Finance. Samuel was born in Uganda Africa and came to America on a soccer scholarship from Alabama A & M University in Huntsville, Alabama. Samuel has held several positions for financial responsibility from being a Northwestern Financial agent to being the business manager for a prominent Miami news outlet.

2.) What is your advice for those who want to start a fashion business that has a positive impact on the world such as yours.

You need to figure out what you want to accomplish or change. What is your purpose or cause? It is important that you are decisive in your cause. Then decide how you're going to create solutions. Our solution was to take something we love (fashion) and use it as a vehicle to provide support to those in need. That is why CLOAK exists. Fashion is one of the few industries where consumption is constant. We feel that this is the perfect medium to offer a sort of penance for over indulgence. Your consumption doesn't only benefit you - it can provide for people that are less fortunate or are going through tough times. It can be a challenge to have a business with a dual purpose, that at times will conflict with the bottom line. If you are serious about combining projects that have a positive impact, we would strongly recommend including it in your business plan. It is important that you plan to give or do. We set out to become a vast resource for charitable works around the world. We realize that many people are jaded by inappropriate use of donations and mishandling of funds by nonprofits that has been so prevalent within the last few years. That is why we thought that we needed to be transparent, and so we included it into our business model, marketing strategies, sales models, our brand and image. We put it out there...this is who we are, and what we want to do. Including it in your business plan puts it in the forefront and helps you stay accountable to your promise.

3.) Any Travel music? Any songs that helped push you along your journey?

We thought this was an interesting question, particularly since I got lost on the way home today listening to Mary J. Blige's [recent] release, "Just Fine". Anyone can rock to that song. It just makes me feel like strutting. My mind starts reeling on marketing strategies, locations and venues, combinations for our upcoming photo shoot and the list goes on and on. The design team always keeps Bob Marley songs playing. He music is great for working, thinking and concepting.

There are up and down days, slow and rigorous, happy and disappointing...and when things are not perfect, Hero by Mariah Carey provides some words of encouragement. We remember why we are doing this...we find it is so much easier to deal with the problems when we remember that we are doing this to meet a causal goal. Today it is answering the food crisis in Haiti, tomorrow it could be supporting and reading program for children of incarcerated parents. When you look at things from that gives you a passion to push beyond your limitations.

Some additional questions:

4.) Tell us more about Cloak.

CLOAK decided that we wanted to "DO" something about the many social issues that face our nation and the global community. Our passion is to either participate in the answer...or create one. We are choosing to "DO" both. We discovered that most want to help, but feel so overwhelmed by the issues. CLOAK is a way to become part of the solution.
By purchasing from CLOAK, you not only get the hottest most unique styles...but you become a part of the answer. Fashion + Cause = Solution

In light of the recent focus in our community and the news regarding the food and economic crisis in Haiti, 100% of the profit made from the "Positivity Moves" launch collection will be donated to charities helping the poor living in the nation of Haiti. While CLOAK is a for profit company, the company is really serious about its giving and missions projects. In fact, the company was actually built on the principle of giving and helping the world to progress.

5.) What was the brainstorming session for this brand like?

Brainstorming always starts with food. We must think on a full stomach! We actually do a lot of our brainstorming outside the studio. We like to be in the environment that our pieces will be in. We sit in on bench in the middle of the city. We'll sit outside at the hottest restaurant. Sometimes we're at the beach. We even do some brainstorming in the middle of the mall. Its important to immerse yourself in an environment that will inspire you. We're inspired by places where we would see our clothes. We visualize how our clothes will look people, we do a lot of people watching. Then we draw, we walk around, we draw, we trade sketch books, draw in each other's sketchbooks, draw some more, then we discuss our ideas.

6.) Where/How would you like to see Cloak grow?

We would like CLOAK to become a household name. We are going to touch the consumer in many ways. We're not stopping at fashion. CLOAK will a have non-profit, publishing and real-estate subsidiary to name a few. This is going to keep growing. I'm sure we're going to grow in directions we never imagined. That's all part of our journey.

The CLOAK team also sent over their look book that I would love to share with you. Email me at FirstThreeInc[at]hotmail[dot]com for a peek. Priced at $29.99 the Junior Women's and Unisex shirts come in great colors.

Also check out CLOAK on StyleMob (tab above) and contact the team for more information about how you too can help with the crisis in Haiti.

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