Dex was raised in Philadelphia before moving to Richmond, Virginia as a preteen. The oldest of six boys, he jokingly described growing up as “eventful.” His mother was big on discipline, so Dex being the eldest, learned early to stand tall and lead by example. He and his brothers all played sports, so he understood the life of an athlete all too well. Dex reminisced, “I was always aware of my appearance, but around those years my culture wasn’t exactly fashion geared. It was all the urban stuff. Roc-a-Wear, Fubu. Sean Jean. So yeah, it wasn’t to this extent, but I always wanted to look presentable!” When you look at Dex’s upbringing it comes as no surprise that he has flourished at the drop of a hat.
Dex and I caught up at upscale hat boutique, Flame Keepers Hat Club, in Harlem, NY. It seemed like the perfect place to meet with a man who is commonly known for his trademark Fedora. Dex is a talented entrepreneur offering brand management and image consulting to professional athletes & celebrities all over the country. Originally recognized by his peers for his own personal fashion, Dex took it as a sign and ran with it. Since starting his company two years ago, multiple fashion publications have covered his influence; Complex, Elle.com, High Snobiety, and Refinery29 just to name a few. Dex demonstrates effortlessly that being yourself and dressing the part is the best way to find success in your life. He’s only just getting started. We present an entrepreneur of one and many hats in this week’s #ShineHard Conversation.
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Who did you look up to as a kid?
Dex: I didn’t really have that many role models growing up, but celebrity wise I thought I was Fabolous. I literally thought I was FAB, bro. With all the throwbacks, the bandannas, he was the man to me, style wise. And maybe Chingy too!
What is your passion and when did you know?
Dex: Well currently, I’m living my passion. Literally, styling and helping people feel better about their image was my passion when I was doing it for free. It may sound cliche, but when you’re not getting paid for something and you’re fine with it, and you wake up and you’re excited about it? That’s how you know something is your passion. That cliche is so true. I mean, I’ve never been this happy… ever! Really since I started my company two years ago. I really enjoy helping people take their brand to the next level.
How did you get started in the fashion industry?
Dex: Around college is when I thought, “Ok maybe I really have something going here.” I got more into the tailored clothing, dressing up and being dapper. People began to associate me with fashion. You know, you went to an HBCU, so that whole homecoming thing and the fashion shows. Those were big moments.
So did you participate in any of the fashion shows?
Dex: Man, I was like in charge of it, in it, everything! I thought I was gonna be a model, but that didn’t work out haha. But you know, it is what it is. Yeah, so right around college, people I guess, took to my fashion choices. From there I just ran with it. I constantly wanted to be the next wave. I think around the time when we were in school, the culture started changing. It wasn’t “sus” to care about clothes. We had the Kanye’s and the Ryan Leslie’s, those were people that were dope, to me in college. It was always like, “Hey Ima do me. I don’t care.”
Tell me about DexRob™ the brand and what exactly are your services?
Dex: Well it’s me, an assistant and two interns. DexRob™ is a company that creates imagery and branding for professionals athletes, but not limited to. We currently work with NBA, NFL, MLB, and MLS players in the states. It’s been two years and our goal is to help athletes create revenue without having to bounce a ball or catch a pass. Knowing the average shelf-life of an athlete’s career, we drive to help set up opportunities post career.
In your opinion, What are the keys to being a successful stylist?
Dex: I would probably say the keys to being a celebrity stylist are being consistent and persistent. A lot of people don’t know that there are different types of stylists. Knowing the difference will help you know what you want to do. Then also, persistence in the fact that you gotta pay your dues. You may have to start low and build your way up. Having a store front for your work is vital too, whether it’s Instagram or a website. Have a place where you can direct people and say, “Hey, this is what I do. I feel like it goes great with what you do, maybe we can connect.” Never forcing it, just leaving the door open for new opportunity.
What is your message and philosophy with clients?
Dex: One of the main things I try to present to my clients is, “When you present yourself better, better opportunities present themselves to you.” A lot of athletes tend to be very lax in their appearance off the field. I want them to understand that when you’re a public figure you really don’t have time to be lax. I really push the idea of, “Always take pride in who you are. A lot of people want to be where you’re at.” I understand it’s important to be comfortable, but it’s 2015 they have fashionable comfort wear too.
Gotta keep in mind these are athletes, you gotta kinda spoon feed them fashion. Styling is more teaching than just playing dress up with people. It’s a cycle; get them, teach them, mold them. If they can keep it going then I’ve done my job.
Who was your first client?
Dex: My first NBA clients were Thomas Robinson and C.J. Miles. T-Rob and I worked together on a shoot he did for Bleu magazine. My first NFL client was Tyrod Taylor. He was with the Ravens at the time and now he’s with the Buffalo Bills. Those are the first people I styled professionally.
Whats been your biggest challenge as a young stylist?
Dex: Constantly fighting complacency. A lot times you can get a client and be like “alright that’s cool.” I could not work for a couple months, but why do that?! Every moment that you’re not working or trying to eat there’s somebody else coming up. The challenge of always staying on your game. It’s very competitive. Never get to a point where you just feel like you’re “good.”
What inspires you to succeed?
Dex: When I get those emails. On a weekly basis I get those emails like, “Yoo, your looks are dope.” I take it humbly, because honestly I don’t feel like I’ve given that “killer” look yet. Most of the people that follow me are there more for my fashion versus the looks I put on other people, but the feedback is always motivating.
What frustrates you the most about today’s culture?
Dex: Our culture today is kinda, I guess you could say, superficial. What people see they feel is the end all be all. Just because someone puts something out there, that doesn’t mean that’s all there is to it. That’s probably the biggest thing, people not being able to see past social media.
At this point in your career, what accomplishment are you most proud of?
Dex: Well it was cool having guys in the NBA All-Star Game and also in the Super Bowl last year. Those are like the pinnacles in those arenas. To have a guy in each game, that was like everything to me! And the second thing was when Kam had his press conference during the Super Bowl, he was like “Shoutout to my stylist Dex Rob!”
What is the #1 factor behind your success?
Dex: Again, consistency is key. Letting people constantly seeing you in the mix, seeing you deal with certain people and in the right places, seeing your name at the top of the list. Just showing that you’re a professional and that you’re good people. At this point, some people may not follow you but they will certainly check your page to see what you’re doing.
What advice do you have for aspiring stylists?
Dex: Perfect your craft. Do your research. Don’t look for the current trend, stay on top of the NEXT trend. Fashion works a season ahead, so you need to be forecasting not reporting. If you’re current you’re late.
Johnny: Dex, keep doing your thing bro! Glad to have you as a member of the @ShineHardFamily!
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