With aspirations to work in the music business, Paul Aarrington started as an intern at RCA Records. Shortly thereafter, unsatisfied and unmoved he decided to make the moves necessary to start his own fashion line, PAUL AARRINGTON, INC. In 1996, the company was established and his clothing started appearing in many retail stores, including Macy’s.
As his career in fashion took off by way of fashion shows and working with other prominent designers, he was able to work with the likes of VIBE and TIME magazines. His styling also allowed him to clothe various radio personalities and TV hosts.
Recently, Aarrington established a small factory and print shop, and a media company to expand his brand to elevate his business to another level. THE INDUSTRY COSIGN spoke to the entrepreneur to discuss his beginnings and how he anticipates his business moving forward.
You’ve been running your own self-titled apparel company, PAUL AARRINGTON, INC. for over 25 years. What gave you the inspiration to become an entrepreneur and what keeps you going? What motivates you to continue as you’ve grown your brand over the years?
My motivation to become an entrepreneur was my love for creativity and seeing ideas come to life. I knew how to style and match clothes to wear, yet knew nothing about designing them. As I was speaking with a co-worker at a job I used to work, he would make fun of my name; Paul Aarrington men’s wear with a hint of sarcasm. I said that sounds good and I set out to learn about fashion design, surrounded myself with the right people, and all things fashion. I know this sounds cliché but I have an insuppressible drive to create and innovate new things. My creativity lies within music. House music, disco, and rap are the influences. Each genre gives a different vibe and makes me feel and create in different ways. I used to DJ and produce music some years back. When I enter a store looking at other clothing, the pieces translate into music for me. I can see the pieces being worn at an event with a specific music type playing. Since I am a huge Todd Terry fan, I find myself designing with his music in the background. Some days disco brings me back to a time period that motivates me to look at that era for ideas and inspiration.
You’ve expanded your fashion brand to include footwear, cologne and baseball caps, but, you’ve added another element to your portfolio. Audio and visual services are a part of your forte now. Why did you start to include those services under your banner and what else are you doing that incorporates your apparel company as well?
As times have changed, so have my brand offerings. My motto has always been that however, I expand the brand, that component must also be able to stand on its own, make money towards the whole picture, and not just its face value. I’ve added an audio and video studio to create all our video and web ads in-house along with the music needs for ads and/or commercials. I am fully equipped for production and post-production of any and all media content that the brand requires. The expanded part of the brand is AVR STUDIOS and PIII Media, inspired by my son Paul Aarrington III. I produced our first sneaker web commercial for the brand with our own production. I have a screen print shop, Nexus Print Studio which houses our own printing equipment, embroidery machines, and twelve industrial sewing machines. These give us the ability to design, produce and alter many things while offering the service of printing to other companies. I am very big on ownership so I own all of our facilities equipment. We do in-house photography as well so in my mind there are no limits. Ultimately I would like to produce films that incorporate our own products in these works.
Being a one-stop shop, how are you able to wear the many hats you do and still be able to put out products on top of being creative?
Although I have so much going on here, I find time to be creative by never turning off that mode. I bounce ideas off my wife Yuvelca to get her perspective. I also consult with other people in a team aspect so to speak, getting suggestions on how to make things come together. But for the most part, I live the creative process all day every day. What it comes down to is having a system in place that I know I can just plug in the components and move on to the next idea.
What is the most important characteristic and/or quality that is needed, in your opinion, to become a successful entrepreneur?
Important characteristics of becoming a successful entrepreneur are belief in yourself, determination, drive, and love for what you do. We know belief in yourself is essential. There are many people that will tell you what you can’t do because they believe that of themselves and think it must be true of you too. Let those non-believers become the fuel to move you forward. There will undoubtedly be obstacles that will distract and discourage you. These are only lessons to get to the next level. A labor of love will always carry you further than just chasing money. The money will come if you love and pursue your dream.
With so many tools at your disposal, what should we anticipate seeing from PAUL AARINGTON in the near and distant future? Any particular projects or future endeavors you’re planning?
Having acquired many resources, I totally see my brand expanding into many areas, including licensed goods (home goods, bath and body goods, spas, etc.). My dream at this point is to make the brand a culture not just a name you recognize but something you want to be a part of something you live and breathe. Since music is a big part of my life and creative process, I can see a music division as well. As far as projects I am working on my focus is still on innovative clothing. But to give you a sneak peek into what else I am doing, I am working on a fun but educational show for my son which will nonetheless show him in some of his namesake clothing as well.