We had the good fortune of connecting with Doug Evans and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Doug, how do you think about risk?
I look at risk as taking a chance and betting on self. It’s about being unfearful of putting yourself out there. I’ve never been one to cower from putting everything on the line; especially if it is something I truly believe in. I favor the famous saying, “with great risk comes great reward.” If you never put yourself out there you will never know what you are capable of and can truly achieve. This way of thinking originated from childhood. I watched my father, one of the first and lasting black owners of a YMCA in the nation. Looking at him with his commanding presence and secure stature sitting and conducting meetings in board rooms created a lasting impression in my life. I’ve watched him build his legacy brick by brick, unapologetically, and without fear. A lot of my father’s beliefs, way of life, and handling business was transferred into me. My accomplishments in life and achievements in my career I attribute to him; that innate ability to conquer anything. In the early 90’s people told me that I could never start an apparel line and I took that as a challenge to prove them wrong. I put it all out there, I did the research, had the conversations, read the books, and everything else I thought I needed to do, to take the task on. Here’s the thing, I was already successful in the field of advertising as a published designer and responsible for several award-winning works. However, I was willing to press reset and start from zero. I knew it would take that same tenacity that allowed me to achieve success in advertising was needed to make a mark in the fashion industry. Here I am today, three successful clothing brands, two of which were multi-million-dollar lines, along with two brick and mortar clothing shops on my resume. Now, I’m doing the same thing all over again with Born To Skate. When no one else is there in the dark, and it’s just you, you must believe in you. Gravitate and lean into the uncomfortableness that comes with putting it all out there. I look at pioneers like Robert Johnson, Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos and Daymond John. When others didn’t believe in their dreams, they allowed that to fuel them oppose to silence and stop them from bringing their dream to fruition. That is an amazing feat and undeniably one that takes great character. As a result, they gave the world something, that many thought wasn’t possible.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I make the statement a lot “I’m a graphic designer who designs in fashion.” Meaning, I didn’t attend a traditional school for fashion design. I went to a four-year art college and majored in Communication Design with a minor in painting. I accumulated other degrees and classic training in design as well. Because of my training and education, I have approached fashion with a graphical and design eye; less fabric and silhouette. Let’s be clear, fabric types and silhouettes are important to me as well, very important. However, my primary thought and standard has been how does my piece or product appear to stand out amongst the crowd. If you look at a t-shirt or a jacket that I’ve designed your attraction will be to the graphic before the fabric, it’s made of. Every piece I create has a story. It’s the stories behind the art that connects us. The hope is that the graphic says something to you. That approach is what sets me apart from most. If the pieces I create are unique, especially being in the world of skating, it will allow skaters to stand out. I’ve watched skaters and they have a desire to stand out while they do the things they do; not just in their flips and moves but in their look. The thing I am most excited about at the moment along with new collections that are being released is my pursuit in footwear. I recently started a footwear brand called McArthur set to launch in 2021. The name originates in my family. I’m using all of my years in design and apparel and applying them in the footwear space to create my own style of shoe. One that is representative of me and what my family name stands for; stability and endurance. Being able to go the extra mile and stay the course is what the McArthur brand is all about. My design team and I are working tireless to develop a silhouette that lives up to the brand’s standard. It wasn’t easy to get where I am today. I sacrificed a lot. I’ve never been one to believe that to get what you want doesn’t require sacrifice; it’s part of the game. Relationships, trips, hanging out with your friends, all of these things I had to forfeit or place on hold to get to where I am now. I realized that to be great I had to focus and prioritize certain things in life. It’s a lot of stuff I didn’t do along this journey because it didn’t add up to put me in the position that I wanted to be in. To be honest, it’s still not easy because I have to make the right choices to get things accomplished. How bad you want a thing determines how far you are willing to go. What I want most for people to know about me is that I don’t give up or fold my cards and that I constantly move forward. I don’t stand in place only to look back. I am constantly making adjustments and progress until I reach the place I want to be and achieve the things I want to achieve. My values of forward movement no matter the sacrifice are a reflection of how I built the Born To Skate Company culture. Our mantra is “All Heart, No Pain.” Meaning, your heart has the ability to overcome the pain. If you fall down or get hurt, you know how to get right back up and continue to move forward. That’s not only a metaphor for skating but one for life. I like to say, “We don’t stop, and won’t stop until we get it done just how we want it. We just keep coming and coming and every time we come, we get better and better.” Just like me, my brands are here to stay. It’s always been a thing for me to help others see, leading by action, that they can overcome their fear of others not believing or accepting what they have and constantly going at it every day to prove those individuals and circumstances wrong.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
Most of my friends come from other places to visit. I would have to say the primary place my friends would want to visit is a true staple of Atlanta and that would be the gentlemen’s club. That would be the classic spots, Magic City and Blue Flame. Gentlemen clubs in Atlanta are featured and mentioned in so many great Black American films and television series. You go in, have a good time, drink, laugh, and dance. At least that’s the case for the people I know. Before arrival to the club I would take my guests to Char Korean Bar & Grill located in North Highlands. I frequent this spot often for the great food, drinks, and personal Hibachi style tables. It’s a cool vibe and great mix of people. The last stop of the evening would be at my favorite cigar lounge near Midtown, Jay’s Cigar Shop. The owner keeps the place in pristine condition and impeccable customer service makes you feel right at home. The dim lighting, leather couches, airy space, coffee and his stock of every kind of cigar that you can think of will have you there for hours. For my sociable friends who like to “burn the midnight oil” and stay up until sunrise I would add one additional spot. That would be one of my favorite night clubs like, Gold Room, Opium, Crush, or Suite Lounge. Any club where Mark “Biddy” Barnes is promoting a party will accompany one of the best parties in the city of Atlanta. As a caveat, if my friends come during certain times, I can always add in a concert or annual staple event like One Music Fest. No matter what, I will show them a good time. When my friends come for a visit, they never want to leave!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would have to say a shout out and recognition in my story goes to a tribe; my tribe. Along my journey there have been integral members in various phases of my life that helped me get to where I am presently. Those that really saw what I was capable of before I even realized. One of the first was Kent Matlock, the founder of a more than 30-year standing agency, Matlock Advertising. He was the first person that saw my talent as a designer and creative leader and gave me my first real shot in the field of advertising by hiring me as an Art Director. He showed me the inner workings of the industry and how it really worked. He afforded me the opportunity to be the creative person that I am. Under his guidance I worked on national accounts like BMW, Publix Supermarket, Levi’s Jeans, and Bellsouth before they were bought out by AT&T; to name a few. Being on these accounts opened the door for my work to be recognized and win awards for ad campaigns that I created. Without question his role was key into jumpstarting my career and path of design. Munson Steed, community pillar and founder of a legacy platform, rollingout is also a member of my tribe. He gave me a shot by allowing me to hone my craft naturally and design across various mediums on an international platform. As I veered the path and ventured into fashion apparel, the forerunners of Outkast clothing, that was started by Big Boi and Andre 3000 mentored me and showed me some of the ropes in the fashion industry. I would be remiss in not shouting out Jeezy and Jay-Z for giving me a chance with the clothing line, 8732. That gave me an opportunity to take what I was seeing in the streets every day and express what I saw to represent the people via a major conglomerate like Rocawear. I couldn’t have gotten as far as I did without those individuals giving me a chance. During my tenure at 8732, Ronnie DeMichael, former COO/CFO of Rocawear now President at Paper Planes, was the one who really schooled me on the business side of the apparel industry. He had me look at things and take them at face value, assess situations accordingly, and make wise decisions for the long play, not the short one. What Ronnie imparted in me always stayed with me while I was working at 8732 and even today. One thing I recognized in my opportunity with 8732 was that I must always be ready. I had to ask myself, before saying yes to that deal, Was I ready? I had to be, they were about to trust me with millions along with leading individuals and teams to accomplish the goals set before us a brand. My best friend Michael Smoak also played a major factor in simply pushing me like no one else, encouraging me to just “give it a shot.” He is a man of action who showed by doing. Kudos to him as I watched while he put himself out there, push reset to start brand new in opening his first restaurant in less than a year ago, Smoak N Bones. There was also Don Rivers, of Rivers Production. He was a major concert promoter in Georgia during the early 80’s to late 2000’s. He was the first person that paid me to design a logo for monumental event, Freaknik. I’m sure I’m leaving some people out, but those were some of the key individuals that really helped me along my path and gave me the tutelage at pivotal moments. All these core individuals showed me what it really means to put yourself out there. To always be ready, be on your shit so that when those life-altering opportunities arise you can cease them and allow them to catapult you into a new level.
Sadie Domineck (IMG_6291.JPG) Henry Green (IMG_2850.PNG)