Jones Ave- Bruce Jones: A Business Man on a Mission!!!

Just like many of you here at Brownstone in our down time we love to check out our social media accounts. So imagine our surprise when one day scrolling through a timeline we saw one of the most cleverly designed T-shirts that we had noticed in a while. Started off as just a series of mutual likes on histogram has blossomed into a real interest in not only this young designer’s clothing line but also in his many entrepreneurial efforts. This week we would love to introduce you to Bruce Jones of Jones Avenue clothing. Not only is he one of the new shining stars in the fashion industry but Bruce is genuinely a good man. This week we you have two ways to introduce yourself to Jones via our Brownstone Radio and the interview below.

KP: Can you explain what the vision behind Jones Avenue is? What brought us to this point?

BJ: Jones Avenue is like… My last name is Jones [so I was trying] to think of a clothing line that would stand out when you say it. So it came to me, a vision of an Avenue… Like the whole block is owned by one family, me and my family. So let's say you have a restaurant, a clothing store, and across the street you have a bar. You know just my whole family just owning something different on the whole block. So that's what Jones Avenue means to me that avenue owned by my family.

KP: What was the starting point for you?

BJ:  I always liked fashion and I thought that I needed to create something that would benefit myself and my family at a rate that I could afford. I started off in 2012; out of the trunk of my car. I had two color shirts and started promoting that and that's how I came into the business. Just trying to have something that my family could have; my kids can have. [I wanted] to start being an entrepreneur so that I can build something. I always wanted to be an entrepreneur…To own my own company.

KP: So you started with two shirts?

BJ: Yeah, I started out with two shirts one white and one black. When I first started out I just walked around and got a lot of pre-orders. I got a design done and I just walked around with pre-orders. So after I made my money from that I purchased some more designs and another shirt and it grew from there.

But, then I took two years off to remarket and get more money together. [I had to] come up with a strategy. I was missing money because I didn't have an Internet strategy. I didn't have a Facebook or Instagram [account]. I was never caught up into Instagram because I was so private.

So I was missing money because my customers were wearing shirts to different places and people were asking: "My last name is Jones. Where can I get that shirt?"  And they didn't have anything that they [could] tell anybody other than: "Oh I work with this guy" or "My friend sells the shirts." So I had to start thinking bigger and use the Internet and other things like that.

KP: You mentioned Instagram… What was the importance of social media in growing your business?

BJ: I think that social media is very important; because it lets people know what your company stands for and what you're about. What you believe in. It lets them know your brand and what you're trying to establish. It’s a way you can reach people all over the world with one click instead of paying for radio time and flyers. With one click or one hash tag somebody in England can get the same message as someone next door to you.

Nowadays in your business, in your hometown or people who know you will be the last ones to support you. There's always someone in the world that will give you a shot or chance. That's what social media is for. It gives other people in the world a chance to see your product and what you're doing.

Social media helps you out it really does. You'll get more love from social media sometimes then you will your own hometown or people that you know. But, you have to be strong on social media because there are people out there…. Just like you get love; some people who you don't know will come make negative comments and say negative things. [They’ll] even come on your page and try and promote [their own product]. That comes with the game. Just like people will like it you [will] have other people that will say negative things. That's just part of business and part of social media. It's a gift and a curse. If you’re a go-getter and you’re strong you'll look past the negativity and just delete [the comments].

KP: One of the driving forces in your brand being recognized are the designs that that you have brought to the table. Do you design everything yourself? Do you test market and then push it out? What's your process?

BJ: I have the ideas… I'll sit down and think what will work? What will be something new? I know not everyone will want to wear the logo of Jones Avenue. I try to create different designs and I also try to create shirts that reflect how I'm feeling. So when you see the No Excuse Just Grind shirt, I had that saying that came from something that I would say to an associate, and it just stuck in my head. So it's just based on how I'm feeling. I just feel like somebody out there in the world will be feeling the same way I'm feeling.

KP: You mentioned your storefront. What was the process to get there? How did you go from the back of your trunk to having your own brick-and-mortar establishment?

BJ: When I got back into the game I was just going to do online. I had a room full of clothes and I did not want to use the basement to store clothes and whatnot. I always wanted to [keep] business and home separate. I've always felt like many times when you have a business at home people don't respect it as home. You have company come over and not respect that you're at work. They don't understand that when they see a car in the driveway and you open the door that you are at work. So I was looking for a place to store my clothes, and when I did find the place I thought I might as well make this a storefront a place where people can buy clothes.

KP: Speaking of the design process. It takes a lot of strength of character to move from an idea in you’re head to actually having a place where people can walk in and walk out with a piece of your dream. Who inspired you? Where did you look out and see, "okay, I can do this"?

BJ: What inspired me was trying to be different. You know what I'm saying? Trying to be different. Learning from people who had been in the game longer than me. Sometimes you try to go left. I'll be honest with you… I have made many mistakes in this last year. Some things have worked out some didn't.

Some things I've left on the market too long. Some things will always sell. Some things won't. I'll be honest with you… I've made a lot of mistakes. But I'm learning. I've made mistakes with the wrong timing, the wrong color. I'm learning as I go and you're going to learn from pain. Being in [this] situation you're going to go through a lot of pain but I'm learning. I'm just trying to get better and better as I go. I make mistakes but I learn quick.

KP: What advice would you give somebody who's trying to get into business? Even if it's not the clothing business, because I know you said you overcame your mistakes. What advice would you give somebody who's just starting off and feel that they made a catastrophic mistake?

BJ: I think the tough times… You have to just push through. Really talk to yourself and learn it's going to be hard. You have to understand that being an entrepreneur gets lonely. There's only about 1 or 2% of the world that are entrepreneurs. That have to earn their own paycheck without it being given. So there is a lot of pain and it gets lonely. You have all these thoughts and visions in your head and being around all these other people who don't understand. So you kind of isolate yourself. Unless you're working around a group of people that have the same thoughts as you. I

I would tell anyone to stay focused, always research and there's so many things on the Internet that can motivate you. If you're not getting it from your family or friends or someone [who is] thinking like you. You can go to Puffy's Instagram and get motivation all day. Damon Dash's Instagram and get motivation. Or, go to YouTube, whoever you admire you can watch things about them and get motivation. Look at a Bill Gates interview or Tyrese interview. Tyrese is always saying really [positive] things. And that can motivate you, because you could be in the wrong city or wrong group of people where you feel like you're not doing the right thing. But, you need to push through.

I would tell people to research anyone that is successful in whatever field they're in. Whether they are a lawyer, a grocery store owner or a clothing line owner. Research them and see what they've gone through. You may see people talking about Tom Ford but no one knows what he went through and came through. You see people talk about Ralph Lauren but then when you read about him you find out all the things that he tried that didn't work. You talk about Nike and most people don't know that he started Nike out of the trunk of his car. So, you have to research people that you admire and understand their pain that you have to go through to.

This is not an overnight process at all, but we do have the advantage of social media. In the 60s and the 70s they had to really advertise. Now, you can go on social media for free and advertise your brand to get people to know your brand all over the country within three months. People will start knowing your brand compared to back in the day when you had to really get out there and travel. We have a little bit more of an advantage but it's still hard.

KP: You seem to have really put a lot of thought into not only what you want to do but with the grind that it would take to get there. Where does that come from? Is it something that you were born with or did you really have to work to get yourself mentally into position to think so business oriented?

BJ: Man, I have been like this since I was a kid. For one I was an only child and I always had a vision as an only child. When you're the only child you play by yourself, you visualize by yourself and you imagine a lot to yourself. I believe only children are stronger than other kids because they can only depend on themselves. When I was younger I used to always play business with my cousins. Like I would be the owner of a record  label or being a singing group and I would write the songs.

I always wanted to be an entrepreneur. And I think over the years if you're not around the right people or doing the right things you can [bring] yourself down and forget your dreams. So the drive that I have now I should've had it… It was always in me and I tried to walk away from it. But, I wish I had found it earlier. I would've been much further along than what I am now.

Sometimes, you have to watch your family and friends because they can discourage you. They're so used to working 9 to 5 or know where they came from in life… Parents can be the biggest dream killers. A son may want to go to school to be in theater but his dad says "we need more black teachers". A female may want to be a model but her mother might say "we need more nurses". So now they're going to school to be unhappy.

There's a drive that when you find it's hard to let it go. When you go to sleep at night you're always thinking. But, like I said you're going to be alone until you find people like you. Because its only 1% of real go-getters and visionaries. [You’re going to] be alone in your mind because there's nobody you can talk to about your dreams. The only thing you want to talk about all day is business. Everything you see is business.

[You will] go to Applebee's or any other restaurant and watch somebody send something back and you [across the restaurant] eating your food but the first thing you say is "They just lost money". And, someone can say to you "What are you talking about this place is packed. They are making money!" What, you’re thinking is as a business owner. Everything is accounted for from the toilet tissue to the bread. So when they sent that back they lost money. When you get in business that's all [that is] in your mind and people don't understand. It has you lonely, because the conversation that they're talking about you're not really interested in. You're trying to build an empire.

KP: So, if there was a kid who was reading to this right now and they're saying to themselves that they have an idea. "I want to make shirts or I want to design my own shoes." Where would you tell them to start?

BJ: I would tell them do what they love to do. Do what they have interest in. I would tell them encourage yourself. Don't worry about if anybody else in your house has no dreams and goals. Have dreams and goals and believe in yourself. I would tell them research… Google! Google people they admire and learn about them. Then I would tell them work on your dream every day whether you have money or not. Start with bottles. If someone laughs at you every time you cash in the money from your bottles it may be three dollars but you put the three dollars to your dream. Keep stacking that money for your dreams.

If you're in high school you might have to cut back instead of getting Jordan's you might have to get a cheap pair of shoes. You have to sacrifice. There are a lot of things you want in the future but you have to sacrifice now. That might mean you can't go out to eat you can't go to all the restaurants. You can't attend everything because your dreams are different from your friends. Your dream is different from your cousin's. Believe in yourself and sacrifice for what [you] want.

Work hard, read a lot of books, study people that you admire and never give up. Whatever you want to be you can be! No matter what a dream killer says. You never want to be the type of person that says "Back in the day… Back in the day I used to be able to jump out of the gym but I never tried to play professional basketball" even if you do fail you want to be able to say I made an effort! I dreamed I went after it! Go after you’re dream!

KP: That might be one of the realist things I've ever heard anyone say. And just like all great entrepreneurs you have diversified. Tell me about your cookie business? How did that get started?

BJ: The cookie business got started… I'm always trying to create something that can bring income and create something that we can start on our own without too much staff and too many people. Something that I can afford to start and leave to my kids and have it grow. I always wanted to start some kind of restaurant or [bakery] and I love sweets. [Recently], I went to Damon Dash's seminar, and I noticed that his son was selling cookies. So, I was like, "That’s what's up! That’s a hustle".

I mean this young man has a vision he's young and he's selling cookies. And like I said I’ve always wanted to sell some type of sweet. So sitting in the house a couple of weeks ago sitting on the couch and I just turned my wife and said were going to start a cookie company. Before I had [even] told her I had already called one of my designers and asked them to design me a logo. So after I told my wife I created a social media on Facebook and Instagram and got people start liking it. Then we worked on the recipe for like four or five days straight until we got it right.

The first day that we put the post up we had people just asking us if they could order from us. We had put a picture up of what the cookies would look like and it just took off. Our website isn't even up yet but we've already got orders from as far away as LA. We're selling out in the stores here and at the gas stations. I'm just trying to create stuff and go after my dreams. So when one income may be going slow something else to keep me going. The more you stay busy the more you're out of trouble. The more you go after your dreams the less worrying you do.

Check out Brownstone Radio to hear Bruce Jones drop more knowledge for entrepreneurs. Coming Soon!

For more information on Bruce, please visit his website. Click here 

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