For third-generation entrepreneur Michael James, grooming is not just a business, it's a lifestyle. The creative architect behind Frederick Benjamin (named after his grandfather), a high-end line of products catering to the hair care needs of the 21st century man, James wants to be able to walk into any barbershop across the country and sell the concept of the impeccably trimmed and clipped gentleman. The Morehouse grad's goal seems well within reach: With more than 10 years experience working with such corporations as Revlon and L’Oreal, James is one of the few men of color tackling grooming solutions in a grassroots and affordable manner. He sat with US to talk about upcoming projects, recent discoveries, and the calming effect of Baoding balls.
REFLECTIONS: Hometown: Columbia, S.C. * Age: 42. * First job: After a short stint on Capitol Hill after graduating from college, I joined the Peace Corps as a volunteer in Iten, Kenya. * Advice would you have given yourself 10 years ago: Life is too short to put your dreams off for “the right time.” Start today and don’t be afraid to start small. * Most valuable life lesson learned: Life is about playing the hell of out the hand you are dealt. Giving too much thought about the hand of the next man takes focus away from what is important...you and your family. * Most valuable business lesson learned: Having the right business partner--one who shares your goals and matches your hustle--is critical to your overall success. You can’t do it all yourself! * Words to live by: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind.” --Dr. Seuss.
DIVERSIONS: Reading now: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, Chasing Cool by Noah Kerner and Gene Pressman, and industry magazines such as Entrepreneur and Advertising Age online. * Reading next: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. * Recently discovered: I discovered a long list of hypo-allergenic dogs this week from my 6-year-old daughter. She checked out a book from the library, built a list, and started lobbying hard for a dog. Currently, she has two fish she barely feeds, so a dog at this point is a stretch, but I am proud of her effort! * Last fun purchase: Baoding balls. They help ease my mind and improve my focus.
PLAYING FAVORITES: Hotel: L'Ermitage, Beverly Hills. * Getaway: Oak Bluffs, Mass. * Entree: Herb Roasted Australian Rack of Lamb at Steak Frites, New York City. * Meet for drinks: Catch, in the Meat Packaging District. * Last time I went out I ordered: South West Steak Salad at Harlem Tavern.