Benjamin Gilbert is a senior Sports Medicine major from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the creator of the clothing line CustomTaylorred. The line was inspired by his sister Taylor Patrice Gilbert who took her own life months after graduating from Howard University in 2015. The two shared a love for fashion, which gave Benjamin the idea for the line. The brand’s logo pays homage to a picture Taylor took in front of the Colette Miller Wings mural. We got the chance to sit down with Benjamin and discuss his sister’s legacy, the Custom Taylorred brand and its Breast Cancer Awareness campaign. Check it out below:
Sonniya: How do you balance designing, promoting, entrepreneurship, school, and work?
Benjamin: I plan out my days, and list objectives along with weekly and monthly goals. It is important for me to prioritize, so that I can work on what is most important at that moment. I like to get my schoolwork out of the way early even though it doesn’t always work that way (jokingly). And I try to hold myself accountable. It can be challenging at times but I aim to keep a clear mind and knock out my daily goals one by one.
Sonniya: Some of your clothing has the number 33 on it. What does that represent?
Benjamin: My sister was born at 3:33. 33 was her basketball number and her favorite number too. 33 is also a common number I see a lot. When I moved into my room sophomore year, there was a sticker in the bathroom with the number 33 on it. When I repeatedly see 33 it reassures me that she’s watching over me and proud of what I’m doing in her name.
Front and Back of Custom Taylorred Breast Cancer Awareness crewneck. 15% of proceeds go to Sisters Network, an African American breast cancer survivorship organization.
Sonniya: You said your sister’s passing inspired your line in which it takes a platform for living life without being held back by social restraints. Any advice you could give to anyone feeling held back?
Benjamin: My best advice is to just block out the negativity and strive for what you truly want because life is so precious. So, why not do what you love or what makes you happy? It’s about being free to live the life that you envision for yourself. And that’s our slogan. She [Taylor] would write “Be free” in her notebooks and that’s where we got it from. Whatever you’re passionate about, go after that fearlessly and block out the negative opinions of others. People may try to hold you back because they feel that they personally couldn’t do it so they inflict their own doubts on to you. I also want people to know that If you’re going through something, there is always someone you can talk to or an outlet you can express yourself through. Like I said, just bring your dreams to life and create your reality regardless of what other people say have to say about you.
Sonniya: You have a breast cancer awareness special collection. What inspired you to do this?
Benjamin: I just try to help out and donate to as many meaningful causes that I can. I thought it was important to help create awareness for the most commonly diagnosed cancer amongst women in the U.S. and use this collection as an opportunity to raise funds for women who’ve suffered from Breast cancer. On Tuesday, October 31, 2017 in Blackburn from 12pm-4pm as a part of our breast cancer awareness initiative, we will have a table where people can write letters of encouragement to those who are currently fighting breast cancer.
Sonniya: Anything else you want to share with public?
Benjamin: We’ve all been through something in our lives. It’s about how you respond to these hardships. You can either grow stronger or crumble. Use your experiences to build character, and share your light with the world. Whatever you want in this life go after ambitiously, and with passion. And through this rollercoaster that is life, try your hardest to not stress. Remind yourself of all the reasons you have to be grateful. Be Free, and bring your visions to life.