“It was in his blood. He spent many hours in the stores with his great-grandmother, his grandmother, mother and several aunts. On Saturdays this was a daily thing being in the mall all day shopping and buying items. Where some people would have been completely tired for being in the stores and malls all day, he thrived on the excitement of being there and not wanting to go home. Over the 7 years he spent at Zara he was able to travel to several stores doing store openings all over the United States.”
READ JAMES’ FULL STORY BELOW.
At a young age James discovered he had a passion for dance and fashion. He started at Center for the Arts at Henrico High School located in Henrico, Virginia in their dance program. From there he was offered an opportunity to join the Richmond Ballet Summer program in Richmond, Virginia. After Richmond Ballet Summer program he auditioned for Baltimore School for the Arts in Baltimore, Maryland to pursue his dance further.
However he was in the 10th grade at the time and Baltimore School for the Arts only held auditions for students entering the 9th grade. He had to get special permission by the school to audition because of their specific criteria’s. He was granted special permission and allowed to audition for the dance program. Upon auditioning he was accepted to the dance program for Baltimore School for the Arts. This was exciting and wonderful news because the school never did this type of auditions. After dancing for Baltimore School for the Arts during the summer of his 10th and 11th grade year he was awarded a scholarship to attend the Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts in Torrington, Connecticut. He danced with this program for the next two summers. Just before the ending of the summer program his 11th grade year he received a scholarship offer to attend Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts his 12th grade year with their year around training program. Life had really begun to open up in the dance world for James.
He went on to graduate from Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts where he received several scholarships and awards to further his dance career. After Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts he won a scholarship to Edward Ellis School of Dance in NYC. Receiving this scholarship only paid for tuition and supplies. Since he wasn’t able to afford his living expenses he decided to get a job back in retail and move in with a roommate. He tried several stores for employment and after going almost everywhere in NYC he got a job at Zara on 5th avenue and 54th street which was their flagship store.
He was experienced because he had worked at Banana Republic at 15 years old being the youngest sales associate who moved up to part time assistant visual merchandiser. At Zara he started off as a sales associate and moved up to head visual manager for the flagship location. He was the youngest visual manger in Zara’s history. Being raised by strong back women with different sense of style he has always had an eye and love for fashion. It was in his blood. He spent many hours in the stores with his great-grandmother, his grandmother, mother and several aunts. On Saturdays this was a daily thing being in the mall all day shopping and buying items. Where some people would have been completely tired for being in the stores and malls all day, he thrived on the excitement of being there and not wanting to go home. Over the 7 years he spent at Zara he was able to travel to several stores doing store openings all over the United States.
He worked with multiple celebs and stylists from all over the world. Zara was a place everyone shopped for the style, current fashion and the reasonable prices. Some of the celebrates that came through Zara that he was able to work with were Traci Ellis Ross, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Veronica Moore, Solonge Knowles, Karolina Kurková and many others just to name a few. He also worked with several publications such as Teen Vogue, Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Vanity Fair and Nylon. While working at Zara he helped style multiple women and men from all walks of life. In his free time he worked with Darius Wobble as his personal assistant for the House of St. Wobble, Tai Chun at Tai Chun Productions and with Her Game II helping produce Harlem Fashion Week. He worked with Curtis Davis who is a fashion industry main point person who does several things in the fashion industry who also has a production company, Adam Group Productions. While working with these fashion industry experts he learned how to do casting calls for runway shows, run front and back of house at fashion shows, style fashion shows and setup and breakdown for runway shows.
After the life and excitement in NYC he decided he needed a change and took a vacation to Houston, Texas to visit his parents. His vacation turned into being in Houston for 5 months which ended up moving there permanent. He found a love for Houston and it really helped that his parents live there even though he didn’t know anyone in Houston. He applied for a job at H & M as a sales associate and was hired. He worked as a sales associate for a few months and was later hired as a visual assistant manager. H & M had discovered he was extremely experienced and was glad to offer him a visual position. Working at H & M allowed him to travel and open many stores throughout several states. He was helpful in opening up over 5 H & M stores and working with 4 designer collections H & M sponsors each year. Some of H & M’s guest collections they sponsor that he has worked with were Alexander Wang, Balmain, Kenzo and Erdem.
Needless to say he was amazing and received much recognition from management. He was offered to join the visual department at the H & M store located on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. This was a result of his working with the guest collections. He then left H & M to pursue his true passion which was styling. He has always been a stylist at heart. His 1st client would be his Mother who had a dream closet with all things a stylist could dream of to work with. He was so talented that everyone began to notice his mom’s new since of styles and people stopped her everywhere to let her know how fashionable she was. He also styled his dad and many of his dad’s customers would always comment on how nice he looked. His dad being so excited would tell his customers it was my son that styled him. One customer in particular asked about who was his stylist. His dad gave his name but was reluctant to give his number to the client.
He was a private person and only worked primarily with his customers at the store or with family. Since he wasn’t working at H & M he wasn’t eager to take on anyone he didn’t know. His dad’s client kept reaching out that she was actually looking for a stylist being new to the area she didn’t know anyone. He set up a meeting with his dad’s client who was looking for a stylist. When she met him immediately they connected. As he begin to talk about what he wanted to do and how he has been a stylist for years she could feel and see his passion in him. Instantly she wanted to hire him to style her and organize her clothes and closet. After he assessed what she needed and what looks she wanted a relationship was formed.
The client hired him for 30 days to see how things would work out. Only to know the client was amazed because she received several complements from work, church and on traveling assignments. His client was featured at the NYSE and was a part of ringing the bell. Her outfit got several rave reviews and many people were questioning about her style. His client loved his work, passion, and believed in him that she decided to invest in his company. That’s where the birth of JS Styles began. Life has many different turns and you never know who you will meet along the way.
His client not only has changed his life but many women will be able to share in his dreams and concepts as a stylist.
Now we have the union of TOFI International and JS Styles. We are excited and can’t wait to see what is next.