With $600, Sharene Wood created a custom clothing company in her Columbia University dorm room alongside her business partner turned husband. Since then 5001 Flavors has provided designs for Jay Z, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Alicia Keys LeBron James and more entertainment heavy-hitters. The Harlem-native now has a boutique in the neighborhood and shares her stylish journey to entrepreneur success.
Name: Sharene B. Wood
Title: President and CEO, 5001 FLAVORS and Harlem Haberdashery
Location: Harlem, NY
The gig: I make custom clothing for music, film and TV personalities and oversee Harlem Haberdashery, a retail boutique that sells our signature line of accessories and items from handpicked designers.
The journey: I was pre-law at Columbia University and lived right over the law school. After making friends enrolled there, I realized this was not the path for me. At that same time, my business partner-turned-husband Guy and I started 5001 FLAVORS clothing company in my dorm room with a typewriter and $600. Entrepreneurship has been a blessing. I love watching our brands grow and creating my own economy!
Entrepreneur 101: Get as much experience as possible even outside of your skill set. Nurture your relationships on all levels. Today’s intern can easily rise to be tomorrow’s media mogul. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Sean Combs was an intern at Uptown Records when we first started and I’ve watched him rise to the entertainment mogul he is today.
Confessions of a Black woman in business: Let’s face it: the industries I work in are very visual. You can be propositioned but I am very quick to get in business mode and establish strictly professional expectations. Being able to professionally deliver has been the key to my longevity and success.
Her biggest lesson learned: Since our custom clothing is exclusive, we do not advertise or market. Initially we did not have a strong PR presence to let the public know about our existence, our clients or our successes. Ultimately, we were the entertainment industry’s best kept secret. That is not a great place to be if you want to build your brand to take it to the next level. After 22 years, we have positioned our brand and are getting the right exposure.
Her best time-saving tip: I’m very organized. I create daily to–do lists that are separated for business, personal and family. I organize my emails according to time sensitive matters and file them accordingly. I can retrieve information at a moment’s notice even emails from 10 years ago.
Her mantra: “Lead. Follow or Get Out of The Way.” My old boss gave me a cute coffee mug with this saying. You have to be flexible and willing to adapt as needed to be successful.
Her career milestone: I love that our designs are a part of pop culture image history helping to create images that will live forever. I’ve seen our designs on red carpets, movie screens, on billboards, in magazines and on our clients standing next to the President.
Student loan status: I do not have student loans anymore! This year I am celebrating my 20th college reunion so I have been out of school long enough to finish paying back my loan.
Her stress relievers: I like to relax and spend time with my family and travel.
Her home life: I am happily married to my business partner of 22 years. We will celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary this year! I have several step-children that I consider my own and we have a beautiful daughter Sydney, 6.
Her secret superpower: Ability to effectively balance between work, play and family. I give each the time and respect they rightfully deserve!
Her beauty must-haves: Isotonix OPC3 Vitmans and Motives For La La Cosmetics which I love so much and also sell at www.shop.com/FiveGroup.
Her power style accessory: My beloved Louis Vuitton bag that lovingly totes all that I need to run my business and be a mom and wife!
Her theme song: “I’m Every Woman” by Chaka Khan. I loved that song as a young girl. It made me feel I was powerful and I could do anything and still be a beautiful woman. Whenever I hear this song I getting excited!
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