Confessions Of A Shoe Designer


It was an early Tuesday morning in downtown Philadelphia when I arrived to work on September 2001. Nothing seemed unusual, and then the unfortunate and unthinkable occurred - the attacks of 9/11/2001. Life forever changed for the entire world as you and I knew it. After the shock of events subsided a bit into the caverns of my mind, I began to think more vividly about my life and where I was headed. 


Something had to change, but I didn’t know what or how?

Arguably, life never felt more uncertain in America than on that fateful day. This feeling had been baked into the forefront of all of our minds.

Less than one year after the attacks, I traded in my comfortable j.o.b. for the discomfort of faith in what I believed was my life’s purpose. By a miracle, (to me at least) I was accepted into The Art Institute of Philadelphia majoring in fashion design as a full-time student. My goal had always been to design for a major fashion company, but I had no idea of how to get there. I figured that I’d give it a shot by applying for employment with Kenneth Cole Productions, Inc. in downtown Philly on the 1600 block of Walnut Street. It wasn’t until three months later that the general manager at the time gave me a stockroom position after initially telling me that all positions were filled.

Ugh the drudgery of working the stock room!

Just after 2 months of earnestly working the stock room, I’d been promoted to a commissioned store sales associate. Not long after that, I became the 2nd highest sales earner in the men’s wear department of the retail store. My new promotion as a sales associate led to me meeting Mr. Kenneth Cole himself. Don’t think for a moment that I hadn’t planned this. Before working at KC, I found out that Mr. Cole would be doing a signing for his new book, Footnotes, at the location. Whether I would get hired before his appearance at the store, that I did not know. But it happened! With two weeks preparation prior to Cole’s arrival, I sketched out a men’s and women’s portfolio when not doing homework, working, or attending school. The collection complemented the Kennth Cole clothing line, as well as their other products.

On the night of Cole’s appearance, I made certain that I was the last person in line to get my book signed for which I used my only $35 to pay for. When my turn came, and with sketches in hand uploaded to a Zip disk (yes, a Zip disk), I asked Mr. Cole to sign my book, then gave him a brief rundown of my ambitions to be a design intern in his company. With a short pause, he stared at me for a moment as if he’d been set up. Noticing my strategically placed employee name tag to the upper left side of my dress shirt, he proceeded to shake my hand, and instead got my Zip disk. To my surprise and gratitude, he handed the disk to his assistant, and said that someone would reach out to me in about 3 weeks. Cole thanked me for coming and we parted ways. “What a night that was!”, so I loudly thought. It wasn’t until 3 months later that I received a call on my Nokia 3310 from the fashion house with an offer to become a men’s design intern. I designed for the fashion house as an intern just over a years time, and then abruptly left with short notice. This all happened in my first year of college, and working as a sales associate for Kenneth Cole Productions in downtown Philadelphia. 

It was a tough year for me. There I am, 21 years old, working full time, attending school full time, and traveling to NYC during the week to work 9 to 10 hour days, not including the 4 hour commute both ways. My vision of having a job in doing what I love didn’t include this level of sacrifice. Before abandoning my internship, I scheduled a meeting with the Human Resources Department to notify them of my decision. The HR rep asked me, “Why are you leaving, is it because of money?” Crouching down in her guest chair, I sheepishly replied, “Yes.” Staring at me with a puzzled look, she asked, “What’s going on?” Not wanting to reply, but needing someone to talk to, I went on to explain as if the HR worker was my counselor. I spoke of how I’d been scheduled for very few hours working on commission back in Philly, and how hard it was to continue to pay my way through school. Not only did I share how difficult life was for me financially, but I also revealed how at the time I’d been enduring family related troubles. Everywhere I looked and breathed, I felt the pressure of life. There wasn’t a book, guideline, or person in my life to help me navigate my way prosperously through the space of a young entreprenuer. To my amazement a couple of years later, I found that many others who are reasonably successful in the field of their professions have faced near identical challenges. Even though I wasn’t, I felt alone. Taking a deep breath, and with apparent empathy, the Kenneth Cole HR rep worker offered me an entry level job as a menswear designer. Not sure if I could handle the newly proposed responsibility along with all that was going on in my life, I declined. The resignation for my internship was accepted, and I left.

Later, I would spend the next 8 years of my life just aiming for job security and benefits so that I could be comfortable. I hoped that the path of least resistance would numb the creative and entrepreneurial coding with in me. Well, it didn’t.


 I’ve decided to launch JACMOVE, LLC as an artist, entrepreneur, and from having a genuine compassion for others like us. So instead of designing another shoe or outfit, I want to also provide valuable services and opportunities that can help fund your vision so that you don’t need to walk away from it for lack of resources and constantly spinning your mental wheels in need of cost effective and value packed business education and solutions. Passion alone doesn’t grow a business!


Here’s a few Action Steps that will help you Move your vision past those perceived limitations:

#1 Faith

  • What: You must have 100% Faith and Belief in Yourself that you are successful.

  • Why: Because it’s completely impossible to exist without faith and belief. Even the so called “faithless” person believes that the pizza they are preparing to bite won’t punch them in the teeth before they can even snag a taste. Just as oxygen is a necessity to the human body, so is faith to your inner person. Never do anything without it!

  • How: In order to overcome fear of failure, you must take responsibility for your own purpose. Ignore the discomfort and do it anyway. And if you’re serious about succeeding in your vision, you must grow to becoming comfortable with being, uncomfortable. You can do it!

#2 Education

  • What: Self education equals freedom in all areas of life.

  • Why: Where there’s lack, there’s an educational deficit. Stats prove that the average millionaire reads one book a week. And the person with average income reads one book a year.

  • How: An overall successful life is the direct result of a balanced approach to learning and incorporating those new principals. It’s like working out. Only performing exercises on certain body parts, and not others, result in physical imbalance. So make sure that you learn more than about your profession. Also educate yourself socially, spiritually, and physically.

#3 Action

  • What: Success is a 24/7, life-long journey of planting seeds of action - massive amounts of action.

  • Why: Recently I meet with a multimillionaire who said that “the wealthy spends only 1% of their time in the challenge, and the remaining 99% of their time is utilized in creating a solution.” You can either talk about the challenges of life, or eliminate them, but not both. Chose the latter.

  • How: Totally, and I mean totally, abandon negative people. Whether intentional or not, they will only choke out your dreams for fear of your goals nullifying their ambitions. Never be afraid to make the greatest investment into your future by wholly giving yourself to it!


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