Today's generation differs in a lot of ways from their predecessors, one particular way is how they view work and life-long goals. The tradition of times past has been one goes to school to obtain a degree, then works a job for roughly thirty or more years until retirement. Today, young people are looking to be their own bosses and embrace their entrepreneurial spirit. Comparatively, even in Christianity, young people are realizing they can be committed to their faith and not be full time in ministry.
Terrence Charles is one such young person who is living his faith outside of the church walls and has started two separate businesses (Gospel Unplugged, PocketSquared NY). Terrence took some time out to share his experience and words of wisdom for those seeking to journey down similar paths.
AB: Why and how did you start Gospel Unplugged? When did it officially launch?
TC: Gospel Unplugged was started because I felt like local talent from New York did not have a voice. They could not find ways of putting out their music without tapping into the larger circuits and big names, like WLIB. YES like WLIB (laughs). So, with Gospel Unplugged it is about giving everybody a chance to put out what they do. The initial thought came about November 2009, and our first event took place April 2010.
AB: What reservations did you have before launching G.U.? What has been your greatest lesson learned from running G.U.?
TC: They was really no reservations, just the 'doing'. I have always been taught by my dad that if you have an idea and you believe in it, run with it to the best of your ability. The greatest lesson as a Christian business owner is that you still can't do anything without the help of God. No matter how dope your idea is, if you have all the plans in place on your own power. If you don't spend time with God, ask Him questions, and listen to what He has to say to you; NOTHING is going to get done.
AB: How do you intertwine your faith with your business practices?
TC: As a Christian business owner, not every opportunity you have are you going to be able to talk about Jesus and quote John 3:16. But, you need to make sure your integrity is in tact. Do not compromise yourself or your faith for anything or anyone. Always remember you are a child of God, so don't turn up, don't get an attitude even if someone acts crazy in person or via email. They will remember that one off email you respond with, aside from the other 10 emails you sent before that one.
AB: What do you have your degree in and from where?
TC: So (laughs), I have a half degree from Five Towns College. I have my associates from Five Towns and 12 credits left to complete my bachelors. However, I left because God said my time was up here. My scholarship had ran out, I wasn't able to get a loan. I prayed about it and God told me that it was not meant to be, highlighting that He blocked all avenues. I was fed up and angry, because I was so close. But, I can't complain because I believe I went to Five Towns to meet awesome people with whom I've had great relationships with. God did certain things for a reason so my life could be what it is now.
AB: Do you consider yourself a fashion expert?
TC: I don't know, I don't think so. I love fashion, I don't think I am a fashion expert yet. I am still learning, there is still a lot of things I am learning. I try to learn something about fashion every day.
AB: What inspired your latest business venture PocketSquared NY?
TC: Before I got married, I had a whole idea called "Terrence's Tip of the Day". It would delve into fashion, spirituality, faith, manhood; just tips to make men become better men. But, planning a wedding supersedes everything that you are doing and I put it on hold. A week after we came back from the honeymoon, I was in the shower and I heard God say PocketSquared NY. I was in there like "What?!" And it further fleshed out as a men's accessory line called PocketSquared NY. So, that was the inspiration and I just ran with it.
AB: How are the two companies similar and different from your perspective?
TC: Similar because we aim to service and please people. They are different because G.U. is more gospel music and event based, while PocketSquared NY is just about fashion. Styling for men and women, YES women can wear pocket squares too!
AB: How is it balancing two companies and being a newlywed?
TC: Its actually not that bad. My wife Celeste is an awesome support. She is my business partner no matter what. We go to bed discussing idea and we wake up discussing ideas. She actually inspired me to do something with the fashion line the other day. So I was like "All right, Thank God for marriage!" (laughs). Because if we weren't together I would have never gotten the idea.
AB: What goals do you have for both companies for the year?
TC: Well, for PocketSquared NY the goal is to have consistent sales. Primarily sales seem to happen on the weekend, I guess that is when folks have time to shop. But definitely more consistency with that. For G.U., consistency as well and to make every G.U. event the best darn event you ever went to.
AB: What advice can you give young entrepreneurs looking to start their own businesses?
TC: Three things: Faith, Belief in yourself, Having the right people in your corner to help you with your goals.
AB: What is your support system entail and how vital is that to being successful?
TC: Your support system is this, if people see you have a heart to do something and people see that you love to do it they will support you. I have countless examples of sharing with people what I am passionate about and have garnered their support. My personal support system consists of firstly my wife Celeste. After Celeste, I have our two close friends Jaime and Kim Sayers. The rest of my support system includes people like Daryl, Nicky, Matt T, A-Minor and Danielle, Chris Jackson, my parents, my brother, my pastor...and a few others. They are the steady support that always check up on me to make sure I am alive and sane, because they know I can get crazy sometimes.
Terrence's parting words for all budding entrepreneurs were to always believe in yourself. He emphatically pointed out that his belief in himself through God's leading allowed him to; leave his job by faith, and venture out full time with Gospel Unplugged and PocketSquared NY. The strength and confidence in one's self allows folks to gravitate toward you and come alongside you to push you to your goals.