Q: How did you get financing?

A: I got the capital from friends of my parents. I moved to California with about $1,000 in my pocket. My first break really didn't come until 1991 when I hooked up with a company called Cross Colors, which was a well-financed clothing company. They saw Karl Kani as being competition for them because I was up and coming. So they figured instead of having him work against us, let's bring him within, tackle the market together. The first year together in '91, we did $89 million combined in sales. We represented 45 percent of that.

Q: When you first started out, were any big designers targeting the urban male market?

A: None of them. No one even wanted to say there was an urban market. Everyone tried to shy away from that customer. And I saw I was that customer.

Q: Was it scary? Did you feel like it was a big risk?

A: I felt like it was a big risk, but then I also felt like, what else am I going to do that I'm going to have fun doing? Making clothes was really my dream and I love doing that. I love putting things together. And I just love to be able to provide clothing for my people, that's all.

Q: How do you get your ideas?

A: I look through different sporting magazines. It depends what season it is. I try to get inspiration from a lot of different sporting events because (they're) a universal thing and everybody gets into it. I also get a lot of inspiration when I go back to New York, and I look at all the different ethnic races that are there and just the way people are dressing. I get a vibe for what's happening and I just put it all together, put it down on paper and sketch it out. Each season we do a new collection.

Q: Do you find yourself going around to inner-city areas and studying what people are wearing?

A: Yeah, we go to inner-city areas. We also go out to the suburbs too. We hang out at malls a lot. Trends usually start in one particular area and it feeds off of that. So we try to be trend-setters.

Q: Where are some of the places you go around here for inspiration?

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