Every father should remember that one day, his son will follow his example, not his advice.—Unknown
This past Tuesday, November 13, 2012, I had one of the most thrilling experiences of my life: the media preview of the Alfred Edmond Jr. Bow Tie Collection for Windsor Neckwear, held at Garmento Lab in New York City’s Fashion District. Co-presented by Garmento Lab, Cole Media and Chambord Vodka, the preview brought together journalists, fashion industry professionals, bloggers and supporters as I joined with Windsor Neckwear Co-Owners Michael McPherson Jr. and Mace Neal III to introduce my new line of 15 limited edition silk bow ties.
I will cherish the evening for many reasons, not the least of which is the attendance of so many people who have poured blessings into me and my life over the years. They included many of my colleagues at Black Enterprise, where I have been privileged to spend most of my professional career, including my brother from another mother, Editor-in-Chief Derek T. Dingle. Also in attendance were my two most important role models and beloved mentors in the magazine business, Sheryl Hilliard Tucker (along with her husband, Roger) and Audrey Edwards. Also present were those who have been consistent cheerleaders of mine over the years, including Cole Media CEO Sakina Spruell, NAACP Corporate Development Director Renau Daniels, and New York Urban League President and CEO Arva Rice. Garmento Lab Owner Sharon Lawrence went far beyond the call of duty as a gracious and engaging host for the media preview. And I can hardly put into words my love and appreciation for my life and business partner Zara Green, who worked diligently to organize the media preview and served as vivacious mistress of ceremonies for the affair.
On top of all that was a priceless blessing: two of my four children were in attendance. The presence of my oldest daughter Monique (better known as the multifaceted artist, media personality and entrepreneur Mo Brown) was fitting because, in so many ways, her example of creative entrepreneurship helped to inspire my outreach to Mike and Mace to create the Alfred Edmond Jr. Collection. It is a true blessing to be able to say that a child of yours is as much a role model to you as you are to her.
But the most cherished memory of the evening was sharing a first with my only son, David—seeing him in a bow tie. A young man literally a month away from his 21st birthday, he’s spent his entire life hearing my views of what responsible manhood is about, as well as watching me as I’ve tried to model—not always successfully—what I’ve preached as an example to him. In so doing, I’ve made it a priority to do what my father was not present to do for me: Guide me through the elements of menswear. As my mother did for me and my brother, I taught David how to tie a straight tie when he was still in elementary school. Since then, I’ve been able to impart style lessons that my mother was not able to impart to me; things I didn’t have the opportunity to experience until well into early adulthood, such as wearing pocket squares and cuff links, and owning a tuxedo. It is was beyond moving to see him wearing a hand-tied bow tie for the first time at the media preview, a full six years younger than I was when I first did.
But that wasn’t even the best part. It’s one thing when your child behaves as he is made to behave. It’s another for him to emulate you by choice. The next day, as I dressed for work, my son called to me from his bedroom. “Dad,” he said, as he stepped out of his room in an ensemble carefully selected to match the A.E.J Enterprise Stripes bow tie in his hand, “can you please help me to tie this? I want to wear it to work at my internship today.”
I could not have been more proud.
My son has yet to master tying a bow tie without help. But seeing him bitten by the bow tie bug at the media event, and watching him experience the looks and nods of appreciation from those witnessing the rare sight of a young man wearing a hand-tied bow during our shared commute to work the next morning, are memories I will always treasure.