If you ask Desmond Attmore, he’s always been a fly guy. Growing up in a single parent household in Jamaica, Queens, NY, Attmore’s mom would never allow him and his brother to leave the house “without being fly." The siblings always had the newest clothes, brands, and sneakers. He carried her fashion sense into his high school years and eventually started Urban Society, his own clothing brand.
According to Attmore, that’s where his dreams of being an entrepreneur and businessman first started.
At the age of 17, he headed to Atlanta to attend Morehouse College. During his first week of school, he met his soon-to-be business partner, Brian Wright. Wright and his cousin, Lavon, had created a clothing line called Kreemo while they were still in high school.
“After seeing his crazy graphic designs, I told him I wanted to help him take the business to the next level. At the time, I didn’t know what service I could provide, so I had to think of things that the brand was lacking, which in my eyes was marketing and exposure to the people,” says Attmore.
There was one problem, though: Attmore didn’t know what marketing was. That didn’t stop him. He began to teach himself everything, including how to write a marketing plan, business proposals and full campaigns.
The result? Kreemo spread like wildfire, making its way onto the backs of celebrities such as Wiz Khalifa and Lil Wayne.
Attmore had found his passion: marketing and branding. Five years later, this Morehouse man is handling marketing for breakout artists such as the rap collective Two-9, servicing private clientele, and creating his own marketing and branding company. EBONY.com caught up with the young maven to see how he handles business.
EBONY: How has New York influenced your perspective on life, and even your business sense?
DESMOND ATTMORE: It seems like everyone in New York is always focusing on how they can make that next dollar, so it was natural for me to pick up that New York hustlers' mentality. Being from New York you get to see the best of things. I feel like it’s the greatest city in the world. New York has taught me there is no [such] thing as second place, and that’s how I look at things in life and business.
EBONY: How did your clothing manifest from your minds onto the backs of loyal customers and celebrities like Wiz [Khalifa] and Lil Wayne?
DA: Wiz actually contacted us because he saw our brand and he really liked it. That was about four years ago, and he’s been a major supporter ever since. We were actually just with him a few weeks ago. We built a strong following utilizing our relationships and influence on campus. When people went back home during breaks, they would tell their friends about Kreemo and the word began to spread rapidly. After seeing this effect, I came up with the idea to have college reps on different college campuses, which took things to the next level.
EBONY: It’s my understanding that Kreemo got its name from the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center, and that this ties to your team’s dedication to represent those who are considered outcasts or a nuisance to society. Why was this population in particular one in which you wanted to create a space and voice for?
DA: It’s easy to follow [others], as we all know. Being different has to be natural. Kreemo was different not because we wanted to be, but because that’s just how people considered us. We wanted to push for more people to not be afraid to be different.
EBONY: Did you always envision yourself having a clothing line and building brands? What was your dream job or career as kid?
DA: When I was a kid, I was like every kid growing up in the hood: I rapped, played sports and got into a lot of trouble. I never saw any of this coming. All I knew is that somehow I had to make it out of the hood. Morehouse has literally changed my life and attending college there is the best decision I have made.
EBONY: In your opinion, what are three key components to effective marketing and branding?
DA: (1) Know your target audience and who you are trying to reach. This makes the entire process easier; (2) Figure out ways to separate your brand from its competitors. Lots of times, I see brands follow other brands and to me that’s boring. If everyone is doing a certain style photo shoot, don’t just do it because that’s the trend; and (3) Think of ways you can be creative and make people pay attention to your brand without having to spend tons of money.
EBONY: As a millennial, what has the journey been like to build a sustainable and profitable brand at a relatively young age?
DA: The whole process is about learning from experiences. Everything we do has taught us lessons. Age doesn’t really matter; the faster you get your business tight and take it serious[ly], the faster you will reap the benefits. I remember one month we released a new collection and in a couple weeks, we made $40,000 from online sales. I literally lost my mind.
EBONY: Well, damn. What is one major obstacle that you all have faced along this journey and how have/did you work to overcome it?
DA: The biggest obstacle is now in our past, which was running a business while going to class [laughs]. Sometimes we would have to miss class to go handle Kreemo business or we would miss opportunities because we had class.
EBONY: So when did you all realize that Kreemo was becoming a successful line and concept?
DA: When stores began to contact us from all over the world—that made me think differently about the brand.
EBONY: What advice would you give to other Black, Fresh & 20-Somethings who are looking to develop a better understanding of branding and doing so effectively?
DA: Study. Do your homework. Find a mentor and look at the steps that they have taken to become great at branding and marketing. [Also,] I think everyone should intern at some point.
EBONY: What’s up next for you, as well as Kreemo clothing brand?
DA: We’re working on a new collection that will be released in the spring. As for myself, I am currently in the process of creating my own marketing and branding company called Studio 24. Can’t really spill the beans on that too much though.
-By Syreeta Martin