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Exploring Life & Business with De’fron Fobb of The Anthony Lawrence Collection

Today we’d like to introduce you to De’fron Fobb.

Hi De’fron, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
My story started when I began my part-time job at footlocker. I knew I loved shoes but I didn’t know how the retail world would prepare me for my own brand one day. Within my first few weeks at footlocker my managers at the time pull me aside and said “Keith, I’m going to put you in the manager program, you will be a great manager one day.” I told them at the time that as long as it didn’t interfere with me completing my Master’s degree I didn’t mind and they ensured me that they would work around my schedule and they did. I begin the program in the largest grossing footlocker in the south region at that time located in Cortana Mall in Baton Rouge, La. within the first month I became a key holder and opening and closing the store. On the biggest release days I would be scheduled to work and learn the in’s and out’s of Footlocker Inc. Within the first month of the program my manager called me in and said “Keith report to Footaction on Monday.” Not knowing anything I just thought maybe Footaction had someone who called in and they needed some help. When I arrived that Monday the manager who was a friend of mind informed me that I was his new assistant manager, this was also one of the top grossing Footaction’s in the south region at the time. During my time at Footlocker Inc. I was thinking of ways to honor my father who passed away my freshman year in college and I had a vision of a clothing brand so I started reading Russell Simmons book “Do You” doing that time I would also spend time in Dillard’s doing my lunch break in the Ralph Lauren section talking to the workers and customers. Doing this time I was gathering information on the direction that I wanted to go with my brand. After reading Russ book and spending time in Dillard’s I notice that it wasn’t any brands that fit every lifestyle at that time. So to honor my father I created The Anthony Lawrence Collection which is “the epitome of every lifestyle”. The Anthony Lawrence Collection started as an ready to wear apparel company that specialized in graphic tees and other lifestyle apparel. Today I have transitioned into an NCAA licensed apparel company marketed to historically black college and universities. My logo is a tribute to my parents. The shield represents their protection, the angel wings represents them being my guardian angels because they’ve both passed and the crown represents the king in me.

While working on my Master’s at Southern University, I received a phone call from my old manager from Footlocker, he had just become the district manager of Lids and they were in the process of purchasing Tiger Mania which is an independent apparel store dedicated to everything LSU. When he called me he wanted me to just help the current employees transition from their current point of sale system to the Footlocker Inc system. Doing the first week helping with the transition I was asked to become the assistant manager and was also the first African American to ever work at Tiger Mania. Doing my time at Tiger Mania I was looking at all the different apparel Nike was doing for LSU and I said to myself “there is no HBCU’s with this type of apparel” so I created my first collegiate apparel for Southern University that read “I AM SU” in a unique design. I put it on Facebook and it became a must-have t-shirt for a lot of Southern University students and alumni. The shirts popularity resulted in a inbox message asking was I licensed to sell the shirt and if not they would take the legal route to have the shirt removed from my website. I was not licensed at the time but I began to do my research and the process to become licensed and as of today I hold over 15 plus licenses that include universities such as Southern University, FAMU, Jackson State, Alcorn, NC A&T, Alabama A&M University, Morehouse, Grambling State University, Savannah State University, and a host of other HBCU’s.

I’ve recently just opened my first store in my hometown, Baton Rouge, La. The ALCollection Store is located at 1515 Harding Blvd, STE A.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
No, it has not been smooth and I never expected it to. The biggest struggle for me was going back and forth with what direction I wanted to take and once I figured it out the challenge became how was I going to go about following those directions. Running my brand and being hands-on is always a struggle because I strive for perfection and I strive to please each and every customer and I’ve learned no matter how hard I try I just will not be able to please everyone no matter what I do. The next big struggle is the financial part and what I was willing to sacrifice to see my dream come true and that was and still is a struggle. I’m 100% independent my vision and my money so in reality, I have to make everything count and that can be a struggle in business because most times you do not get it right the first time.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
Please tell us more about your business or organization. What should we know? The Anthony Lawrence Collection is a licensed NCAA apparel company that specializes in exclusive high-quality HBCU apparel. The Anthony Lawrence Collection has unique designs with premium lifestyle products for HBCU alum, students, friends, and/or family.

What do you do, what do you specialize in / what are you known for? The Anthony Lawrence Collection specializes in premium HBCU products from t-shirts, sweaters, shorts and varsity letterman jackets. We are known for our high-quality products and unique designs.

What sets you apart from others? The quality of my products is what separates The Anthony Lawrence Collection from others.

What are you most proud brand-wise? That I was able to give the HBCU world something new, something fresh, and different from the rest and they love it and support it.

What do you want our readers to know about your brand, offerings, services, etc? We have opened our first store located at 1515 Harding Blvd. STE A. Baton Rouge, La. 70807 and also can be purchased online at www.anthonylawrencecollection.com

Risk taking is a topic that people have widely differing views on – we’d love to hear your thoughts.
Risk is all a part of being successful, if you do not take any risk you will never know what is standing on the other side. I’ve taken all the risk for The Anthony Lawrence Collection and I still don’t think I’ve seen my rewards yet. The Anthony Lawrence Collection is all me no trust fund, no business loan, no investors, 100% ME, so for me that is a huge risk. I don’t mind taking the risk I actually enjoy it because I know what I’m risking. Do I know what the reward will be? No I don’t but I know the bigger the risk the harder I will have to work and I don’t mind working. The rewards will come but they will never come if you never take a risk.

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Image Credits
All Photos by Kevin Waters

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