As told by Kassaundra Shanette Lockhart
Bread Connoisseur, Marathoner, and pen behind www.kassienetteskorner.com
The fabric of our lives is often made up of myriad of experiences, circumstances and opportunities. They can range anywhere from the homes we grew up in to the person who told us we would never amount to much to the college professor who helped uncover our career path to the stranger who helped us pick up our bags we dropped in the parking lot. Each event and encounter has the ability to potentially change the narrative we are destined to live.
Deeply rooted in the fabric of this brand are threads that began intertwining years before the manifestation of the product was a reality. These threads began the cultivation process during the days of Yo! MTV Raps, British Knights, Alf, Nerf, Starter jackets and Nintendo. Unbeknownst to anyone was the fact that the viewpoints that were being formed during these years would lead us to the revolutionary moment we are witnessing today.
Enter Rob, Che and Jay – the brain trust behind the industry’s newest brand phenomenon, Carbon Fibre. In less than five minutes of chatting with each partner, you automatically grasp why their lives were destined for a head-on collision.
I met Rob when we were freshman at North Carolina State University. We were both eager to enjoy the freedoms of college while taking the next steps to begin carving out our career paths. We identified similar traits in each other which has led to an almost 17-year friendship. This friendship is essential as I tell the collective story of Carbon Fibre. It leads to me to want to dig deep into the minds of each partner to uncover pertinent information and thoughts that intrigue you about the men who want to bring change to industries that are hesitant to embrace it.
The paths of Rob, Che and Jay are as different and unique as the collection of sneakers residing in their closets. Rob, who was raised in the South in a single parent household, is a textile chemist by degree. Reared by an Army enlisted father, who passed away when Rob was 20, “education is key” was embedded into his mind at
an early age. Determined to succeed despite the obstacles, Rob has stood firm on the foundation his father built as he is driven by a desire to help and support others so they can accomplish their dreams.
This desire led to a thread between Rob and Che who are related by marriage. Che keyed in on similar goals and aspirations when conversing with Rob. Hailing from the streets of New York City, Che’s path is rooted in a refusal to be boxed in. What started out as an aspiration to become a lawyer quickly turned into a need to be creative. Seeking an outlet, Che directed his focus to the media and marketing industries. Here, he found space that provided him the opportunity to create, develop and implement strategies that have allowed brands to grow and expand.
While Che has been assisting in brand growth, his Alpha Phi Alpha line brother, Jay has been using his unconventional path to Silicon Valley to inspire others. The New York native who is motivated by a passion to reduce the technology divide prides himself on doing the necessary work to reach his end goal. Undeterred by the fact that there are very few software engineers in The Valley who share the same skin tone as him, Jay is determined to be an example of what hard work, focus and resilience can lead you to.
The perfection of this intertwining is evident in every conversation with each partner. All three bring specific skill sets to the table as they collectively create a unique opportunity for three distinct voices from three different parts of various industries to be heard. The beauty of focusing on what each partner brings to the table from their respective backgrounds lies in the fact that they have begun to understand the lessons they’ve learned over the years and can begin executing them as they create the narrative for other brands. From one getting fired from a job to another turning down the dream job he thought he wanted to one being questioned about his future for turning down an internship that would’ve lead to a lucrative career, the brain trust behind Carbon Fibre has overcome mountains of obstacles. When others may have given up, they pressed forward. When others may have walked away, they focused on the next step ahead of them. When others may have decided to parlay in their comfort zone, they saw the beauty in living life outside of it.
These obstacles combined with what they have learned as they have navigated their way through their respective industries is what sets them apart. Driven by a passion to give back, help others find their voice, be examples for young minorities, share the strength of their network and relationships with others, ideate brands and develop non-linear ways from points A to B, is what separates Carbon Fibre the pack. It is evident that they all play very distinct roles and when blended together their flavor is as refreshing as your favorite cup of Kool-Aid on a warm, summer day.
Whether you need guidance with building your brand, finding your voice or assistance with positioning yourself to put as many tools in your toolbox as you can, then you have found the right partners who are willing and able to help you intertwine your thread with theirs.
Go create your magic. And sprinkle some cool on it while you’re at it.