In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different. - Coco Chanel
Different is nothing new to our Spotlight of the Week: Sekou Thornell
Sekou Thornell was born and raised in Stone Mountain, GA. Within his first few years of life, he discovered that he had a passion for soccer. For people that are familiar with Stone Mountain, you know that soccer is a much overlooked sport. Despite the unfamiliarity within the community, he decided to join a local all black youth club in called SMYSA. While at SMYSA, he learned more than just soccer. He improved his skills, found some of his lifelong friends, and learned that he was born to stand out.
Being one of the top players on his team did not change after an unfortunate event. Because SMYSA lacked funding, Sekou had to play at two other soccer clubs before getting accepted to Clayton State University. While at the Division 2 school, his work ethic and skill set made sure that he made a name for himself. While at school. Sekou or "Kou" were not the the only two names that his friends and teammates called him. He was also known as "Kitboy". This is because no matter where he was or what he was doing, he always managed to wear a jersey.
How did Kitboys begin?
Kitboys began as a nickname I used to receive from my teammates while I played college sports. They used to call me Kitboy because I wore nothing but jerseys to class and it stuck. I eventually got the idea to make my own soccer kits and Kitboys was the official sponsor name for the jerseys I created. After then I got really expansive and thought of a way this brand could impact people other than myself and made a plan to create something that could benefit all of us.
While having the name Kitboy in college, Sekou was forced to make many decisions that he had not planned. The first decision was whether he should continue playing after he had to reconstruct all of the ligaments in his ankle. This was a hard decision, but his passion pushed him to work through the injury. Even though he kept playing, the injury always was present in his performance. That lead to his second decision. Because of his injury, he finally had to hang up his boots and look for new opportunities.
Being that he was raised to find a way or make one, the search did not take long at all. He decided that he wanted to continue to make a difference in the soccer community.
What did you do to make sure Kitboys was different from other sporting brands?
Really the brand being centered around soccer made the idea different than other sporting brands from the start. Nobody has really fused the scene between soccer and football in terms of clothing and design. I also focused more on product design and storytelling and it really separates the brand because of that.
The Kitboys Club is not your average brand. The difference between them and other sporting brands is that they are selective and unique with everything that they do. The creative brand collectively synergizes design and sport in order to alter the stigmas that surround soccer. Through a combination of product design, merchandising, videography and curated events Kitboys has done business with Soccerbible, Copa90, Atlanta United, WorldSoccerShop, Urban Pitch, and more.
As an entrepreneur, what tips would you give someone starting their own business?
My advice would be to become a niche, learn the art of storytelling and creating emotion, and make sure you have a strong foundation from the start. A lot of the reason my journey was such success early on is because of how niche the idea was and my ability to tell the Kitboys story as a brand. It's the same reason companies like Apple and Nike are such a success, but they do it on a much larger scale. They capture the emotion and focus on branding a specific set of values. Do your research and understand your market's climate as well. Consumers can always sense inorganic or rushed products. Know what it takes and set that as a benchmark. After that understanding the art of goal setting is extremely important to any entrepreneur.
There is a difference between being creative and being a creative. Being creative is a one time thing and being a creative is a lifestyle. Everything that you touch or execute is an original. Sekou makes sure that Kitboys keeps this focus to not stand in but to stand out. This is only the beginning, and they do not plan on slowing down anytime soon. From generating the idea in November 2017 until now, only a portion of his ideas has came to life.
One of his most recognized projects broke the internet. To your right, Kitboys created a Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United jersey collaboration. These two teams play a major part in Atlanta culture, and this jersey took place as a great representation. Catching the eyes of many people was easy, but one person specifically noticed the project and helped take it to the next level.
What project means the most to you and why?
The project I did with Atlanta United still means the most to me. That project reached the hands of Waka Flocka and the club made sure my mom and I saw the MLS Cup front row! That will always mean a lot to me.
It all started with a dream, and Sekou made sure that this dream came a reality. Through different trials and tribulations, he leaned on his support system and business partners. Not only can you not do everything by yourself, but you can't reach your dream if you don't believe. You must have a strong foundation, a niche and a story to tell.
Kitboys is the change in culture that they wanted to see.
What can we look forward to from Kitboys with the next year or two?
What you can expect in the future are some more big names to collaborate with, and a refreshed identity of the brand. Better product and a lot more product range for the future. We are planning to expand on our merchandise and go even deeper in product design. Hopefully, in a year, I will have an office for the team to work out of as well.
Why is it important to endorse in yourself?
It's important to endorse yourself because you are only your biggest fan and biggest critic. Do what you can every single day and you will accomplish whatever you set out to do. You can't do that without that foundational belief in yourself first.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Highlight of the Week : Sekou Thornell Instagram: @47thkou @kitboys.club www.kitboysworldwide.com/ Interviewed By: Bryson Dorsey Be Smart. Be Prepared. BnDorsed