It’s always important that we remember to step outside of the “Howard Bubble,” and learn about other people out there making a difference in the world. 21-year-old Jalil Miles is a graduating senior at Fisk University and brother of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. He is from San Bernardino, California and although he is from the West Coast, his inspirational mindset has reached places all around through his business, Trophy Year Apparel. Not too long ago, he made the decision to create something that could keep people motivated and focused on their goals. Here’s why you should buy your next Trophy Year hoodie:
Asha: How would you define Trophy Year Apparel as a whole?
Jalil: “Trophy Year stems from my line brothers and I talking about wanting to accomplish all of our goals and really just wanting to push ourselves further. We also have this saying “APA” which could be taken as Alpha Phi Alpha, but we also have a saying from it that’s says “Apply Pressure Always.” When we took that saying we really just realized it’s all about doing it. I feel like nowadays a lot of people just talk about how they want to do something, but a lot of them make excuses. For instance, on the back of the Trophy Year hoodies, the first slogan I decided to put is “Make Money Not Excuses.” For me, that was important because at the time I was surrounded by a couple of people who I felt were making excuses as to why they couldn’t survive. Me being the type of person I am, I’ve been in so many situations where I realized at the end of the day, you just got to make it happen. So the whole idea behind Trophy Year is about accomplishing everything you want to accomplish and making sure you’re always applying that pressure when it comes to standing on top of anything. Everyone has their own desires and goals.
Asha: How and when did this business get started?
Jalil: We were talking about it in the end of 2017 in December over Christmas break. My line brothers and I got to talking about it and it really came about. I’m a graphic designer as well so I was making a bunch of different shirt designs and coming up with a bunch of stuff in the beginning of January. I sent it out, got some feedback, and after the first week of January I started to do pre-sales. I just threw up pictures and based off my following on different social media I was able to do pre-sales. I didn’t have any money to start up or put towards apparel. In the span of the beginning of January until like January 16th, I ended up making my website and the website for the apparel. Doing the designs for the presale and seeing what type of feed back I got helped, luckily it was good feedback. That was a blessing. That’s really how it all got started.
Asha: What makes Trophy Year unique?
Jalil: I feel like Trophy Year is unique and it relates to anyone. Who doesn’t like winning? Everyone likes to win, everyone likes to accomplish their goals and being about checking that list off of things that you’ve always wanted to do. I feel like it’s relatable and it doesn’t just pertain to 2018. Every year can be your Trophy Year. I have a saying on the Instagram page that says “Every Year is Your Trophy Year,” because at the end of day if you always have that mindset to win…everything is a result of the mindset that you have. If you don’t believe in yourself 150% then things may fall through. So if you’re wearing Trophy Year and thinking that, you will start to see things align. Even just coming into this year, I kept pushing Trophy Year and I started seeing all these great new opportunities come my way.
Asha: What is your ultimate goal in terms of where this brand can go?
Jalil: I see everyone in Trophy Year. I’m not into sports, but when a football team wins, let’s just say, I can picture them coming out or even going to practice wearing Trophy Year. For Trophy Year, for the movement…I would love to see people really owning up to what they say they want to do and really making it happen. I love it when I see people wearing Trophy Year when they’re doing what they love to do. For instance, the past SGA president of Fisk that graduated last year, he was just like “yo I’m about to go sky diving, I’m a little nervous, but it’s my birthday and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.” It wasn’t really just about the hoodie it was just about him owning up to something he wanted to accomplish. So that’s definitely what I would like to see, people pushing towards their goals and actually accomplishing them.
Asha: What is some advice you’d give to other young entrepreneurs that hope to start a business?
Jalil: Just a little backstory, I haven’t worked for anyone since my Freshman year. I’ve been able to really just focus on myself. There are so many opportunities now for people to be their own boss. You don’t have to have anyone tell you when to come in. For young entrepreneurs that are coming up, I would just say…remain consistent with everything you do. Make sure you don’t let anyone alter the way you want your brand to look. Only you know your vision, you need to stick to that. Stick to your guns. Understand that you can’t please everyone but also understand who your target market is.
Jalil is able to show that not only is it important that we go out and support Black business, but we should be supporting businesses whose goal is to inspire and uplift us as buyers. His message is impactful and important. We are young and we have our entire lives ahead of us, so why shouldn’t we be living to ensure that every year is our Trophy Year?! So you should all definitely take the next step to rep this amazing message, but only do so if you are serious about checking off your list of accomplishments this year and every year. “No Excuses!”