V.S.OP Spotlight: “Cut From A Different Cloth”

The Virtually.Seizing.Opulence (V.S.OP) team is happy to introduce to some and present to others, Mr. Tommie Lark, Jr. the Chief Executive Officer of Superego, LLC. Tommie was born and raised in Massachusetts.Some would say that the odds were stacked against him from the time of conception, as he was born to two teenage parents. Things become harder for Tommie when he was seven years old. His father was murdered, leaving his 24 year old mother with two young children to raise.

Despite the early traumatic loss that Tommie experienced, he excelled as a student and joined the Amherst Chapter of “A Better Chance” (ABC), a college preparatory program. In addition to his success in the classroom, Mr. Lark also experienced great success as an athlete. His prowess as a scholar athlete led to him being accepted into the prestigious Wesleyan University, where he served as the captain of the track team and went on to be a four-time All American Triple Jumper.

While balancing his coursework and a rigorous training schedule, Tommie found time to join the Beta Beta Chi Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated. Phi Beta Sigma is an international Fraternity founded on January 9, 1914, on the campus of Howard University in Washington, DC. As a member of the Fraternity, Tommie utilized the leadership skills that he gained at an early age and served as the President of his Chapter for two years. In an interview with the V.S.OP team, Tommie shares how he overcame the adversities of being born to teenage parents and losing his father to go on to become a college graduate, All-American athlete and up and coming entrepreneur.

V.S.OP: “Tell us about your journey. How did you get into the industry that you are in?”

TL: “I am someone who came from nothing, born in a society where most that looked like me would be predisposed to drugs, violence and poverty. I somehow fell into the fashion industry, but I am using my brand and movement to redefine culture and make sustainable living more accessible to underrepresented millennials.”

Tommie truly believes in the old mantra that “it takes a village to raise a child,” and he attributes much of his success, both personally and professionally, to individuals that served as mentors and role models for him.

TL: “Coming from nothing, I am grateful and know the importance of giving back. I would not be where I am today without the support and guidance of many along the way including the staff of “A Better Chance”, my coaches and the brothers of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated.”

Defining your purpose can often be difficult to do. People spend a great deal of time trying to establish who they are or to make sense of what they are placed on this earth to do. Tommie believes that he is living in his purpose and is using his craft to inspire others to achieve greatness. He also envisions himself as a barrier breaker in the fashion industry and has established lofty goals for Superego, LLC.

Coming from nothing, I am grateful and know the importance of giving back. 

 

V.S.OP: “What makes you do what you do?”

TL: “My purpose in life is to do what I do. I was given a gift, destined for greatness. It is my duty to give back and uplift our youth, paving a path for them to have a more positive future.”

V.S.OP: “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?”

TL: “In 10 years I would like to be a successful business owner that is known for changing the very fabric of reality (making hemp the new standard for t-shirt as opposed to cotton). I would like to have concept stores around the world, connecting the dots and empowering creatives to live their dreams. I would eventually like to start my own foundation or non-profit organization to give back to youth in underprivileged areas.”

V.S.OP: “What legacy do you want to leave behind through your craft?”

TL: “(BE)lieve in (YOU)rself. I want to leave this earth knowing that I have made an impact, knowing that my children and grandchildren will be born “Cut From A Different Cloth.” I want people to feel comfortable in their own skin, knowing that life’s a journey of creating yourself. Do what makes you happy and never let anyone get in the way of your dreams.”

Success is not easily attainable and this is even more evident in companies trying to establish themselves in major industries that have been historically dominated by larger corporations. The V.S.OP team inquired as to the challenges that Mr. Lark has faced as he seeks to “change the very fabric of reality.”

(BE)lieve in (YOU)rself. I want to leave this earth knowing that I have made an impact, knowing that my children and grandchildren will be born “Cut From A Different Cloth.

V.S.OP: “What are some obstacles that you have faced in pursuit of your goals?”

TL: “I was born to lose, but built to win. Born in poverty to high school sweethearts, losing my dad to violence as a child. Raised by a single mother working 3 jobs to provide for my siblings and myself. I was able to get over all of the obstacles in my way. Currently, a major obstacle that I am facing is building a brand from the ground up and spreading awareness. As a small business, working capital is always an issue, but we continue to work with the means that we have in order to get to the next level.”

Seizing opulence is not only about achieving success, but making an impact while doing so. Those that are living the “opulent life” are individuals that intend to use their personal brands to excel within their industries while shifting the social conscience of everyone that they encounter. Mr. Lark was candid in sharing that he hopes to inspire future generations and create a better living environment for them through his company’s success.

V.S.OP: “What does your craft mean to you?”

TL: “My craft is everything to me, as I am set out to literally change the very fabric of reality. I am introducing a sustainable alternative to the very wasteful fashion industry in a way that makes it ‘cool’. I want to appeal to the youth, educating and empowering them to make conscientious decisions that impact their everyday lives. Through our clothing we are empowering society, the environment, and in turn, our economy.

V.S.OP: “If there is one piece of advice that you could give a young person looking to get into your industry, what would it be?”

TL: “One piece of advice that I would give to a young person looking to get into any industry would be to study the greats and become greater. Complete your goals and value the process. Be patient and persevere through it all! Hard work pays off, so work hard and never give up!”

The V.S.OP team is happy to share that at the time of the interview with Mr. Lark, his company had recently launched a kickstarter campaign to raise $25,000. The campaign was a major success and Superego, LLC met their goal! Mr. Tommie Lark is the epitome of resilience, perseverance and creativity. He is an up and coming leader in the fashion industry and is certainly living the “opulent lifestyle”. Tommie Lark, we salute you for all that you represent and for being “Cut From A Different Cloth!”

For information on Tommie Lark, Jr. and Superego LLC, please see below:

Superego: www.superegoclothiers.com
Twitter/Facebook/Instagram: @SuperegoWorld
Personal Twitter: @TommieCFADC
Personal Instagram: @T_Larkington
Email: TLark@SuperegoClothiers.com

Written By: Tai D. Richardson

V.S.OP Spotlight: Slay Washington The Voice of CT

The Opulent Corner would like to introduce to some and present to others, Mr. Avery “Slay” Washington. In 2007 while attending a party at his Alma Mater, Tuskeege University, “Slay” took a risk and asked the DJ if he could get on the microphone; eight years later, he reigns as one of the hottest names on the Connecticut event and party scene as he is rapidly gaining notoriety throughout the Northeast and beyond.

Avery was born in New Orleans, Louisiana and moved to New Haven, Connecticut as a young child.  The son of a Social Worker and an Administrator in Higher Education, academic excellence has always been at the forefront of Avery’s mind.  Through focus and determination, Avery obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration in 2011. Though he worked hard in the classroom, Avery made sure to maintain balance and have fun.  In an interview with VSOP, Avery shared that his initial draw to becoming a host was the ability to improve people’s experience.

VSOP: “What drew you into your craft?”

AW: “I saw that people had great ideas for events but they were bland and missing the energy and hype elements. I felt that I was the missing link to an event being successful. Before I knew it, I was hosting the majority of the parties at the student union as well as at local clubs in the surrounding area.”

Public speaking and performing in front of large groups of people can be a nerve wracking experience. However, Avery got his start early on in life.  As a lifelong member of the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Avery would often be called to lead the opening prayer or to serve as Worship Leader for Men’s Day Celebration and other church observances. It was evident early on that Avery had a special gift to connect with others, but more importantly, he enjoys the process of interacting with his audience.

AW: “My craft is my passion, I truly enjoy hosting events and seeing other people happy or laughing because I have enhanced the event experience.”

In addition to being extremely personable and professional, Avery has a reputation for putting his best foot forward at all times. He is not bashful in sharing that he seeks to stand out as the best in his field.

VSOP: “What does opulence mean to you?”

AW: “Opulence is being the absolute best at what you do. Opulence is when your worth is your wealth.”

VSOP: “Where do you see yourself in the next ten years?”

AW: “In ten years, I see myself on a major television network or radio station daily hosting a show or program.”

When thinking of a word to describe “Slay,” the first one that comes to mind is versatile. Not only can he hold down the mic at a club blazing the latest in R&B, hip hop and reggae, he can also serve as the Master of Ceremonies for a fundraising gala, fashion show, wedding or a black tie affair.

Slay doesn’t only seek opulence as a small business owner, he also excels at his full time job as an educator in the New Haven Public School system.  When he is not hosting events or spending extra time with students, Slay can be found serving his community as a proud member of the Chi Omicron Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated.

 

VSOP: “Tell us about Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated.”

AW: “Omega Psi Phi is a brotherhood that is well respected in the New Haven community and all over the world for our service and uplifting African American males. We are celebrating 104 years of brotherhood.”

Avery has dedicated his life to improving the conditions of others.  Whether it be through community service or by him making an event come to life with his uncanny ability to use wit, humor and charisma to get the crowd to “turn up”. Avery is a firm believer that iron sharpens iron and suggested that up and coming event hosts seek out professionals in the field as mentors.

VSOP:”If there was one piece of advice that you could give to someone looking to get into your industry, what would it be?”

AW: “Find the person that is most popular or the best at what you are interested in. Follow that person and their art form. Also, seek a conversation with that individual in order to understand their motives and ideas.”

The road to success is not always navigated through a straight path. When seeking opulence, one must have faith, determination and a love for the grind. Slay Washington exemplifies all of these traits and more; as an educator, community activist and one of the hottest names of the hosting scene, he is truly living the opulent life. We salute Slay Washington for who you were, who you are and who you will become!

 

 

Slay Washington can be reached at:

Website: www.slaywashington.com
Instagram: @SlayWashington

Now there’s only one question to ask, #AreYouVSOP?

V.S.OP Spotlight: “The BARMAIDE”

Joiah “The BarMaide” Ladson

Its a pleasure to have our first of many Opulent Spotlights to be a close friend to the VSOP fam, Ms. Joiah Ladson. You might remember her as one of the best mixologists in the tri-state area, but now she can be found mixing it up as she ascends the fitness circuit traveling with the BarStarrz and matching the most effective workout regimens for her clients as a personal trainer.

Joiah was born and raised in Queens, New York, and was an active child as her parents ensured that she was engaged in organized sports. She left New York to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Forensic Science with a concentration in Biology which she received in 2011 from the University of New Haven. While attending UNH, Joiah participated in many clubs and activities, but according to her own admission, her favorite activity was drinking. She shared that though she had amazing nights while under the influence, it took a toll on her well being.   In an interview with the VSOP Team, Joiah shares how she overcame her bout with alcohol and transformed from bar waitress to the “Barmaide.”

VSOP: “Tell us about your journey. How did you get into the industry that you are in?”
JL: “For years I struggled with alcoholism, it was taking a toll on my life and the people around me. I was spending too much money on alcohol and neglecting my bills. When I wasn’t drinking at my bartending job, I was drinking at home or at some other Happy Hour. In addition to drinking, I also had terrible eating habits. These habits included Doritos, fried chicken, Chinese food, daily trips to McDonald’s, bar food and non stop snacking. Within a few months I was at my heaviest weight, my stress levels had skyrocketed, bills piled up and I determined that it was time for a serious change. At this time I stopped making excuses for myself, signed up for a gym, cleaned up my eating habits and reached out to a few of my personal trainer friends that could help me get my life together.”

Alcoholism is a serious issue to face, and it controls many people’s lives. It is not uncommon for alcoholism to lead to bouts of depression and other life altering conditions. Joiah was able to replace the bottle with an outlet that not only improved her health, but also, her well being and her wealth.
JL: “I saved about $400 per month by eliminating alcohol purchases, and I gained an amazing body in return.  After about six months of working out on my own and with friends, I hired a personal trainer for some extra fitness advice. My personal trainer saw my drive and dedication which led us both to believe that I had a career in personal training. I decided to get into training because I realized the joys that fitness brought into my life. I knew I’d be able to connect with my clients on multiple levels because of what I had been through. I wanted to let people know that happiness and longevity are just a workout away. Exercise and healthy eating have the same addictive qualities as alcohol and drug use, except the results are much more rewarding.”

 

Many people would be satisfied with facing and conquering their demons, but this is only the beginning for “The Barmaide”.  Just as anyone who is seeking opulence in their lives, Joiah has goals and big goals at that.

VSOP: “Where do you see yourself at in the next 10 years?”
JL: “In ten years I see myself still involved in health and wellness, but more so as a brand.  I want to produce literature, digital apps, clothing and do motivational speaking that help promote my message.”

VSOP: “In regard to your message, what legacy do you seek to leave behind through your craft?”
JL:  “The legacy that I’d like to leave behind is that everyone struggles but that shouldn’t deter us from seeking better. You don’t have to be a product of a negative environment because life is so much easier when you’re happy. When you’re in a negative mind state, opportunity knocks but you’re too busy sulking that you won’t get up to answer. Once you change to a positive outlook on life, opportunity just walks right in.”

 

Opportunity is what many are waiting for, but just as Joiah stated, if you are not ready it will pass you by. As you continue to grind toward your goals and aspirations, remember that obstacles and barriers are meant to teach us lessons.  The road from bartender to “The Barmaide” has been riddled with obstacles, but Joiah has faced each challenge head on with intensity, and she has learned from what she has endured to get to where she is.

JL: “Throughout this journey I’ve faced some health and financial obstacles that slowed my process but never stopped me. Participating in Spartan Races taught me that obstacles are meant to be overcome. I’ve been in the hospital for severe dehydration and starvation, ruptured ovarian cysts and emergency wisdom tooth extraction. Unexpected car/medical issues that I didn’t budget for would take away from my grocery and gym membership funds but I always found a way to pull through. Besides the medical and financial issues I was still battling my addiction. For the first few months into the journey I had to really convince myself that I did not NEED alcohol. I embrace everything I’ve been through because it lets me know that I can overcome challenges. If I had to do one thing all over again I would alter my spending habits and budget more wisely.”

VSOP: “What advice would you give a young person looking to get into your industry?”
JL: “ To the young person looking to get into personal training and all around wellness I recommend that you do your research. When I started working out I wasn’t familiar with the science behind it. I currently hold three different certifications which allow me to better assist my clients in reaching their goals (Certified Personal Training, Performance Enhancement Specialist and Corrective Exercise Specialist). Use your resources and understand that even after studying the science portion you’re still not the smartest person in the world. There is a constant exchange of knowledge in this field that will allow you to excel. Practice what you preach. On a number of occasions I’ve seen trainers advise certain workout and meal regimens but they’re overweight with poor eating habits. Just like the airline oxygen mask principle, you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else. Let it be understood that your body is your business card and your lifestyle is your resume.”

VSOP: “In your opinion what is opulence?”
JL: “Opulence is health, because health is wealth. The greatest luxury I can ever obtain is a fit and healthy body that can perform the way a body should.”

 

Life is an ever changing path with many twists and turns. One that “The Barmaide” herself has traversed and is still progressing along with a far more positive outlook. With her drive, passion, perseverance and know-how, Joiah has defined her opulence and is certainly seizing it, truly living the VSOP Life. Salute to “The Barmaide” for who you were, who you are, and who you are becoming!

Now there’s only one question to ask, #AreYouVSOP?

Joiah “The BarMaide” Ladson

IG: @The_Barmaide
Twitter: @MamaJ_UrHiness
Email: jlads19@gmail.com