I Create Birmingham: Marceon Walker
“I am a product of my community, my parents, and my upbringing. That is where my inspiration and drive come from. I know what my life might look like if I stay on a traditional path. I could go to college and pursue a more traditional career. I could go to work after graduating and work my way up in someone else’s company. But I want more than that. I want to create something for myself, and I know that I can.”
Marceon, at an age when most of your peers are just beginning to think about what they may want to do with their lives or are busy being kids, you’ve thrust yourself into a career. What motivates you?
I am a product of my community, my parents, and my upbringing. That is where my inspiration and drive come from. I know what my life might look like if I stay on a traditional path. I could go to college and pursue a more traditional career. I could go to work after graduating and work my way up in someone else’s company. But I want more than that. I want to create something for myself, and I know that I can.
Most entrepreneurs say that the hardest part of opening their own business is simply getting started. How did you begin Currency Apparel?
I began with a list of goals. I knew what I needed to get started — a laptop, programs to learn how to design, materials, a heat press, and a place where I could sell my product. I got a job working at Subway. I saved nearly everything I made and used it to buy a second-hand laptop from a pawn shop. I continued to work at Subway and save until I reached a point where I knew I had to make a leap of faith, and I had second thoughts about leaving, but I’ve been able to invest all that extra time in my own brand. I’ve learned as I’ve grown, and I’ve had the support of mentors like Corey Bishop of Refresh Clothing who gave me store presence and a space where I could create.
What challenges have you encountered on the way? How have you learned from those experiences?
I love my family, but I have learned to be my own cheerleader. Not everyone is always going to believe in you, but you can believe in yourself. I understand their intentions of wanting me to “play it safe” and find a steady job that I can build on rather than taking risks with my money. Those fears come from a place of protection and love but they’re still fears, and I don’t want to make decisions based on fear.
So much of our personal growth and opportunities come from our relationships. Who has helped shape your business philosophy and work ethic?
My brother gave me a copy of Guaranteed Success by Percy Miller, the rapper Master P, and that book was transformative. I have grown up with a grandmother who has been strict, and I’ve always had a pretty regimented schedule. I don’t really have a lot of free time. When I’m not in school, I’m working and prefer it that way. I have to push myself to succeed, so managing my time wisely is important to me.
What inspires you and what does the future look like for Currency Apparel and for Marceon Walker?
My designs are about perseverance and focus on rising to where I want to be. I’ve used social media and relationships with influencers to gain interest, and I’m excited to expand from solely menswear to select womenswear in the next year.
I want to be a magnate. I’d like to diversify my interests in fashion to lifestyle and have already begun to explore the world of real estate. It feels good to accomplish those goals I’ve set for myself, but I’d like to see programming in place in the schools that helps kids like me who have an entrepreneurial mindset and drive. I want to be a part of that and help others to accomplish what they dream of.
Interview by Tonia Trotter