"Who's Hot?" Entrepreneur Interview
Our "Who's Hot?" Entrepreneur of the Week is Elijah McClinton, co-founder of Deathtoheartbreaks clothing line! McClinton is a 19 year old fashion designer from Anaheim, California and raised in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He was a not so good high school student, but fought to turn it around and is now in school for journalism. Writing and drawing have always been his passion since he was young and while in high school, McClinton was a part of the school’s film program that won a couple of awards throughout the state. This opportunity opened his eyes to videography and the possibilities it could provide for him!
Check out the brand here www.deathtoheartbreaks.com
We talked with Elijah Mcclinton in an exclusive interview, check it out below!
Question: What sparked you to start your business? How did the idea come about?
McClinton: I always had a passion for clothing and just putting certain looks together. But, my junior year of high school is when it all started. My two friends at the time, Dejuan Barney, who is still a part of the group, and Ashton Graham, had an idea that if we turn our hardships into creativity that nothing could stop us. And that’s the definition of our brand Deathtoheartbreaks. “Death to anything destructive or harmful that can be turned into creativity.” Since then we have added a few other members in Monty Chino, Ian Courtney Ferguson, and Jon Davis along the way.
Question: What advice would you give to young people looking to start their own business?
McClinton: I would say to trust yourself. That no one knows you like you know you. There have been plenty of times where I’ve been told, “that won’t work, or this won’t work” and you just got to have the fortitude to do it your way and to block out anyone or anything telling you to do otherwise.
Question: What are some of the necessary skills that you've seen are needed to run a successful business?
McClinton: TO HAVE THE RIGHT CONNECTIONS! It’s not what you know it’s always who you know. You have to be unafraid to put yourself out there. You can’t just be a figure behind the screen all the time. “Be Somebody, Be Somewhere.” – Dan Lok
Question: What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
McClinton: Interestingly enough, I don't think I've hit that wall yet. Of course, there are always obstacles in the way. But I would say the only thing would be trying to wear too many hats at one time and communication between members at times. I know it stems from me liking things a certain way and never really relying on other people to do anything for me. But I would say it’s gotten better to a point where I have a great team around me that all know their roles and play them well.
Question: What motivates you?
McClinton: The once local stars that made it out. I think it’s so fascinating how the same people from my home area have found a way to make it out and are now making a name for themselves. They were once in the same shoes I’ve been in. And now they have become the ones where you can look to and say, “you can do it too.”
Question: How do you generate new ideas?
McClinton: Idea’s come from life experiences and the people that I meet in passing. Ideas and concepts are always flowing through our minds and it wouldn’t be us to not be thinking what’s next.
Question: How do you define success?
McClinton: Success to me is doing what you love and not having a care in the world what anybody has to say about it. Life is what you make it out to be. You can choose to make a great, or shitty. It’s your choice.
Question: How do you build a successful customer base?
McClinton: I seem to get this question a lot and all I have to say is to find your niche. Find your target audience and roll with it. If you aim for athletes and you actually have a skater crowd. Roll with what works. Don’t overthink your game plan just go and execute.
Question: Do you believe there is a formula for being a successful entrepreneur?
McClinton: There isn't a particular formula no, but all entrepreneurs have to go through one thing. And that's pain and hardships. It’s always going to be a struggle. Whether you not having the correct resources, money, people, equipment, there is always something that will be missing. You just got to learn to live with that and move along.
Question: Who is your greatest inspiration?
McClinton: Pharrell Williams by far. Ever since I was little it's been N.E.R.D and The Neptunes all day. The way he seems to be everywhere and do everything still amazes me. He's what I call a humble flexer. He knows he's the shit, but he will always play it off like it's nothing, it's so amazing.
Question: What is your favorite aspect of being a business owner?
McClinton: My favorite aspect is always the reaction. It’s really cool seeing someone react to your ideas, whether it be good or bad, any reaction I receive, I learn something from it.
Question: How do you go about marketing your business?
McClinton: Conducting interviews is one, connecting with people who have the same minds as us, and just staying relevant. One of the greatest things about conducting interviews is you also learn something as well. You get to pick their brain and hopefully, you can come out of it and learn something from the conversation.
Question: What sacrifices have you had to make to keep your business running?
McClinton: I wouldn’t call them sacrifices if you want it that bad. But it’d probably be the usual not going out to eat, partying, and impulse buying. Spending all the money you earned in a two-week period just buy some materials. Being late on some bills, the usual.
Question: What company or business do you admire most other than yours and why?
McClinton: Their two companies that I admire the most. And it’s one, they have a great story of overcoming great obstacles and two they’re just great companies. You would be a fool to not say Apple and BMW. These two companies have overcome the then dominated Microsoft company and the booming American car business into oblivion. From both being the laughing stock of the industry, on the verge of bankruptcy, too now pure luxury and excellence. You cannot beat that. Another player in the game would be Under Armor. Don’t be surprised if Under Armor becomes the leader of not just sportswear but casual wear as well.
Question: Where do you see yourself and your business in 10 years?
McClinton: My plan is to bring something unique to the industry while also being true to myself. Bringing all different mediums together. I see myself and the brand as a stepping stool for other young and ambitious artists like myself a platform to branch out. Ultimately my future goal would be to have a fashion show here in Atlanta with other artists I appreciate to create something bigger and brighter for the community, while also making a name for myself in the industry.
Question: Is there anything else you would like people to know about your business?
McClinton: Season 09 shop is now open, make sure to go to our website at www.deathtoheartbreaks.com and subscribe so you can be the first to be up to date on new updates, releases, and articles. We have something special planned for the summer as well so be on the lookout for that.