We had the good fortune of connecting with Lenny Ross and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lenny, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking.
Taking risks has always been apart of my growth, both personally and professionally. The first major risk that I took was deciding to go to Morehouse College. I couldn’t afford it and didn’t know anyone there, but it was something special about Morehouse and their history that I wanted to be apart of. That risk forever changed the trajectory of my life.
Fast forward to my last year at Morehouse and I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. The 1996 Olympics were coming to Atlanta, so my roommate and I decided to make and sell t-shirts. This was a huge risk, but I knew that I could always couch surf for a few months if it didn’t work out. This was my first attempt at becoming an entrepreneur and I sold the hell out of those t-shirts to start my first business.
As with any risk, when it pays off you feel invincible. Risks have been one of the common themes of my success. Those risks have had less to do with what I didn’t know, but what I did know. I BELEIVE in myself and I have FAITH that God wouldn’t show me something that I couldn’t have. Those early risks helped me to amass the COURAGE and CONFIDENCE to grow. Growth doesn’t come from being comfortable. Growth only comes from being uncomfortable.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
My business is 5 Stripes Merch located in Decatur, GA. and we sell Atlanta United themed merch. I discovered my business purely by accident after going to my first Atlanta United soccer game in 2017. The team was exciting to watch and the fans were rowdy as hell and I wanted to be apart of it. I went to buy my first piece of Atlanta United gear and was pretty dissapointed at the selection. There was no story behind the merch and it was all very generic, just a logo placed on a shirt. I felt like Atlanta United fans deserve better and their merch should be a celebration of Atlanta.
My goal was to create merch that told the story of Atlanta and for that story to be shared between fans. Honestly, it’s been more challenging and rewarding than I would have ever imagined. It would have been easier to just buy the damn shirt out of Walmart like everyone else! My intention wasn’t to create a business, I just wanted a dope Atlanta United t-shirt.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is: Wherever you set your intention, that’s what will materialize. All this time I thought I was working on my business, but I was really working on myself in order to become successful. It isn’t easy by any stretch, but going to a job every day that you hate for a paycheck really sucks! Do what inspires you, even if you don’t know where it will take you.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
This is Atlanta, so there’s no shortage of things to do and see around the city. I always recommend starting out on the beltline at Krog Street. You can literally eat and drink your way through the city on the beltline. A few of my favorite spots are Superica in the Krog Street Market, Beetlecat and Bartaco in Inman Park. Atlanta’s craft brewery scene has almost doubled in the last few years and a few of my favorites are Wild Heaven Brewery West End, Half Way Crooks, and Monday Night Brewing.
I always recommend catching an Atlanta United game and tailgating in the Gulch. If you haven’t been to a 5 Stripes game and sat in the Supporters Section, you don’t know what you’re missing! The Supporters Section stands for all 90 minutes and celebrates a goal with beer showers….only in Atlanta.
You couldn’t possibly come to town without checking out a few other Atlanta staples like the infamous Clermont Lounge, Fox Bros BBQ, mjq, and J.R. Crickets.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
One of my favorite quotes is, “To Whom Much Is Given, Much Is Required.” I’ve been afforded the opportunity to stand on the shoulders of many people to have such an amazing life. I’ve had countless mentors and teachers who saw something in me that made their wisdom worth sharing.
The person that stands out in my mind the most is my dad. As he always says, “I’m your biggest critic and your biggest cheerleader.” Growing up, I didn’t understand the tough love and why he never let me get by with being mediocre. NEVER. He always insisted that we do our best and if we didn’t, we would do it again until we got it right. He wasn’t concerned with being my friend, but being my dad. He taught me the importance of my relationship with God. He learned hard work from his granddad and discipline from serving in the Navy. He always leads by example and to this day, I can still hear him say, ‘You can’t spend your money but one time, make sure you spend it right.” He was dogged about teaching us the importance of money and how to save.. Part of the reason that I wanted to go to college was to get away from my dad and those teaching moments. In hindsight, those lessons served as my compass to help me navigate through life.
As a dad myself, I find myself re-teaching those same lessons that have been passed down to me. It’s an honor and rite of passage to share those same lessons with my daughters. I feel incredibly blessed to have had such a consistent mentor and teacher in my life.
Nominate someone: ShoutoutAtlanta is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.