If I’m being honest, despite being in AP Literature and Honors classes throughout my school years, I never have been much of a writer. I’ve always been more of an oral curator (fancy word for talking a lot), sharing my knowledge, experience, and point of views with anyone that would listen. But as I have gotten older (tear) and become a father, I’ve realized that part of raising a child is helping them to not simply understand the destination, but recognize the journey required to reach that goal or destination. So that’s why I’m here… to share my experience of the #TeamMiller journey in creating Young King.
Before we get into 2020, a brief reflection of what made this all possible...
To know my wife Cora is to know that she is calm, reserved, somewhat mild-mannered, and one who does not frequently get angry (besides me leaving the kitchen a mess- sorry love.) In our 11 years of dating and marriage, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Cora as angry as she was when she couldn’t find any hair products for our son that met her standards. One day, probably after 1-2 glasses of wine, she abruptly turned to me and declared that she wanted to make our own brand and product for Kade and boys just like him. What followed was a series of awkward looks, and questions to one another like:
“Can we really make our own?”
“Should we actually do it?”
“How in the hell can we do this in addition to our 2 demanding corporate jobs?”
“Wait, you really want to pour our savings into this?” and
“How in the world do we make sure people love it?”
While we shot these and thousands of other questions at each other, I literally sat back and had a moment of clarity... creating a business and launching a brand was no different than what I do every day at work - fulfilling consumer needs, understanding their wants and desires, and creating a unique solution. I’ve been blessed and fortunate for my experiences. I’ve managed billion-dollar brands and launched numerous new products that have driven millions of dollars of profitability for my employers. All the doubt and questions went away because in that moment, I believed in what we could create and the lives we could impact, simply by fulfilling the needs of our son Kade.
Over the coming months, there were numerous long nights, planning sessions, falling asleep on the couch, disagreements, waking up with keyboard face (painfully uncomfortable), talking to multiple mothers and fathers, going through and refining more than 50+ prototypes, reviewing designs, doing consumer research, etc., etc., etc. The journey was tedious, but we remained steadfast in the knowledge that we were on to something and that if we were going to do this for Kade, we had to succeed.
My motivation for Young King is simple… in 16 years when Kade turns 18, I don’t want to hand him a job application, I want to hand him a brand, a company, and a legacy that was all built by and for him!
This motivation made today possible - 45 days post launch and sharing our babies (Kade and Young King) with the world. The support and feedback we have received from family and friends, parents and Young Kings of all ages that now have products representing them and the crowns they wear, has been the best gift we could have dreamed of. All of the sacrifices were worth it to know that we can positively impact so many lives.
So 2019… THANK YOU! It was the year we decided to stop providing lip service to our ideas and moved with a bias of action. We were non-complacent with what was simply out in the market; instead we poured our hearts into making what we felt was needed for all black and brown boys: Young King Hair Care. While 2019 was amazing and rewarding, my dreams are even bigger and more ambitious for 2020. I’m excited for the grind (hopefully with more sleep this year!) and the dividends it will pay off.
Here’s a the picture that will go in a future memoir about how it all got started (think Jeff Bezos Amazon garage photo with a little more swag in it, lol.)
Happy New Year and remember #KeeptheCurlsPoppin!