IN CONVERSATION WITH...
WARAIRE BOSWELL, Designer
“I can’t live without me. I love everything that I make. I have to make my own stuff so that’s just what it is.”
…a spectrum. There are so many things: Entrepreneur, Businessman, Father, and Man of God.
I am LA born and raised. Before becoming an entrepreneur, I was in the famous William Morris Agency training program. Being there was a whole new world and experience that required not just mental toughness, but also great style. Daily, I watched some of the most powerful representatives in Hollywood come and go in great suiting. Some even had their tailors come to the office to fit them. These men stood out. Their clothing was a calling card, one that I knew I wanted. However, if anyone knows a thing or two about the program back then, you know it paid less than $400 per week. Couple that with a 6’3” tall and lean, not off-the-rack build and I had to get creative. I started making my clothes—a shirt here, pants there. Executives within the office took notice; my peers took notice, but even as my interest in becoming an agent waned I was not ready to jump into what came so naturally to me, so I joined actor Wesley Snipes’ production company. Almost immediately there were a number of signs alerting me that this job was not meant to be.
My sister was the first person to speak on this and encouraged me to take the leap of faith on myself, which many of us are often confronted with, but all too often go the way of convention for fear of the unknown. She said, “If not now, when,’ and loaned me some start-up capital. With her encouragement and a newly emboldened spirit to finally be the boss of my life, I bought fabrics and accepted my first orders. WARAIRE BOSWELL INDUSTRIES was born. From that moment on my movements were deliberate. I never went to design school. I am self-taught and a firm believer that clothes are a representation of oneself. I studied each garment’s construction, asked questions, and surrounded myself with the best pattern makers and manufacturers here in downtown Los Angeles. I made certain to be well-versed in the appropriate fit and cut of fabrics and patterns. My ethos is to work smart instead of working hard.
Pleased with my work and the compliments they would get around town, those agents told executives and directors. Those same agents also told their clients, athletes—who were similar in build to me and not able to buy suiting off the rack. Soon, I had a business strong hold with some of the most fashion forward and stylish athletes and entertainers of today: LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Chris Bosh, DeAndre Jordan, Will Smith, Ellen DeGeneres and Robin Roberts (GMA).
Over the years we have grown our collections through various collaborations and strategic placements. A corporate partnership with McDonald’s to redesign their uniforms, and last year’s GQ spread with Colin Kaepernick being one of the most important to me. As a black man, a father, and a conscious brother on this planet, how can we not support all that he is doing and sacrificing in the fight against social injustice?
The MANTRA (Voice in My Head)
"Haven't I shown you?"
There are things that happen in your life, maybe not to everybody, but to me specifically that have yanked me back to really dialing into (my) spiritual focus. And as an entrepreneur, a level higher being, and an African American entrepreneur nothing is promised at all. People are playing for keeps and they don't care if you win or lose.
So even when I've been very close to defeat, I rise to my feet because of a very die-hard faith level that resides in me. But, even at that faith level, sometimes I'm looking at situations through a worldly eye because when you get bills they don't come in spiritual form, they come in black and white natural form. Whenever they come, at the very last moment, it always works out. And I always hear that voice from the Lord telling me, "haven't I shown you? Haven't I shown you? Haven't I given you enough reason to believe me?"
So when that bread gets low, I'm so steadfast and my faith is so strong because I know this is going to work out. In addition to me knowing that, I'm still working. I'm not just at home twiddling my thumbs, I'm out here working.
"Haven't I shown you?” is the mantra.
6:30AM I’m normally up. Generally, both of my sons are in our bed sleeping so my neck is hurting super bad because I slept crazy. Once up, I meditate. For the most part, what I love to do is sit in one spot for at least 10 minutes of quiet and I have a timer on. I find when I do that it sets the tone for everything. There was a time I would wake up and I would be daunted by all the tasks in front of me and it would give me anxiety. That's just where I was at that point in my life. Now I'm at a different point where there’s no time to be nervous, there's no time to have anxiety, and even if I do have anxiety it’s squashed pretty quickly because I have grown responsibilities of which I need to take care. Grown responsibilities meaning making sure there is a roof over our heads and making sure we have savings to have a very well balanced financial portfolio. There's just no time to be in the house nervous. You gotta get up, go out, and get it.
After meditation, I focus on getting the children prepared for school. My wife will take one of the sons and I’ll take the other son, and then I’m headed down to the office.
7:30AM I'm not really a breakfast person. For the most part I'll have green apples in the morning. That's like the jump off. Then, I'll have a little smoothie, but it's not like I'm sitting down with eggs, steak, sourdough. Nah, I'm not doing that.
8:00AM It takes me 20 minutes to get to my son’s school and another 15 minutes to get to my office (Downtown LA). So about 35, 40 minutes round trip.
9:00AM Once I get down to the office, I’m meeting with staff and talking about what needs to happen that day, what projects are pending, which ones are due, and also what are we doing to generate new business. Then it's an execution of those things.
My Work Day Flow
The most interaction is with my executive assistant. The two of us discuss what needs to happen in terms of which clients are coming in, what business needs to be tended to and also what new clientele needs to be facilitated. After those conversations are had, it's pretty much the execution of those things.
By and large, the lion’s share of my clients come to me. I'll measure them up. They’ll choose fabrics and I'll execute their order. It’s well balanced. It's not just you come and pick it up and you leave. We're sitting down, we’re talking about what they ordered, why they ordered it, and what they could have done or what I could do to make the experience even more enhanced than it is already. It's really hands-on.
A lot of times whenever I'm doing something for a client, I know exactly how the piece is going to look. When I look at a swatch, I know exactly how good it's going to look on them. But if you’re a doctor or coming from another discipline professionally, you don’t know how this is going to look so you might be nervous. So, it’s like the big reveal when a client actually puts something on and it exceeds my expectations. Then they as clients say, "oh wow, well this is the reason why we come to you, because you know this stuff." It’s very gratifying.
LUNCH I need to be more diligent about lunch. I eat macrobiotically so 9 times out of 10 I’ll bring my lunch with me. I have this thing I say with my staff: when it's time to eat, it's time to eat. And I need to be better in terms of my regimen of eating. It would be great if every day at 11:45am I go to lunch, I'm sitting down to eat at 12:05pm, and I'm eating till 12:48pm, but it doesn't work like that. Sometimes I'll eat at 11:30am, sometimes I'll eat at 10:15am, sometimes I eat at 3pm. It's a moving target.
If I bring my lunch, I bring vegetable dishes. With eating macrobiotically, you have a bean dish, a rice or quinoa dish, and you do that with a vegetable dish. Sometimes I'll go down to Umami burger downstairs and have the beet salad with goat cheese, almonds, and a burger patty medium well on the side. I do that maybe once every 2 weeks; that's not something I do consistently.
3:45-4 o’clock. I typically leave the office to pick up my sons then go home and get them situated. If they have tutoring, I’ll drop them off at tutoring or if they need to be picked up from a tutoring session, I’ll pick them up. If there is an event later that night, after I get them home and situated I'm preparing myself for that.
7:00PM My wife cooks for the most part. With the macrobiotic eating, I have a week’s worth of food- lunch and dinner. She's not necessarily cooking for me; she's more so cooking for herself and the children. She has a meal service that she gets because she works full time as well. If the kids are hungry and the wife isn't there, it'll be me cooking a little something, but I'm not chefin’ it up and making truffle ravioli. It's not that type of party.
9:45PM I’m usually watching Viceland. I like The Untitled Action Bronson show and Desus and Mero. I'm a big fan of Desus and Mero and just to see what they’re trajectory has been from when they were the Bodega Boys to where they are now is amazing. I also watch Jimmy Fallon. So that's generally how the night will end.
The MEDITATION (when you think Legacy + Heritage)
The main goal is financial freedom because when you're financially free it’s not the answer to everything, but it allows you the ability to sideswipe a lot of BS because you don't have to deal with it. You just don't. However, if you're beholden to someone because you're in debt from student loans or credit cards or business, you have to unfortunately deal with a lot of things and a lot of people you wouldn’t have to ordinarily deal with. The main thing for me is financial freedom for not only myself, but also for my children.
My father would always tell me, “do not spend time building someone else's legacy. Put that energy into building your own. Nobody is going to look out for you better than you will. So, if you don't look out for yourself and you’re broke in the end, you have no one to blame but yourself.” When he was sharing this with me, I didn't really understand it.
In addition to being financially free, my sons can side step all that foolishness. Listen if you want to go be a musician, go be a musician. You got all this bread right here kickin’ it. If you want to be a culinary chef and you want to go to Zimbabwe to do your internship, go do your thang.
My father, naturally. He wasn't perfect—he was a man, a human being I should say. He's no longer with us, but he would always say, “you can learn something from everyone. But from me, you'll learn what to do and what not to do.”
There's another person in my life: his name is Mr. Davis. I went to high school with his son. I'm very close with him and he's someone off which I bounce ideas. He's one of the very first African American men I knew who owned his home.
When I am traveling, W magazine, The Economist, Variety, Home Reporter, Ssenseand Mr Porterare my reading staples.
If my life were a soundtrack, it would start with “The Lord Will Make a Way” by the SCI Youth Choir and it would end with “Ease on Down the Road.”
There are a lot of artists that I like. I love Marvin Gaye’s music, but I like Suga Free too. I like INXS, I like Sting, Elton John, and the Isley Brothers. My father owned a record shop when we were growing up and he exposed us to so many different types of music. I also listen to Dram as well. Dram is like everything. I love Dram.
5 Things I Can’t Live Without
My items will probably be a lot different than a lot of people. I saw a saying that said, “a lot of people think that when you have everything peace will come and everything will fall into place. It’s actually the reverse, have PEACE and then everything will fall into place.”
I definitely need FAITH because it's a big part of what I do. A big part of what I do. To God be the glory.
And I need my FAMILY because that's one of the main reasons why I'm getting up and working smart every day, not hard, working smart every day.
And my STAFF because nobody achieves anything extraordinary on their own; you need your staff to do those things. I treat people the way I want to be treated. If it ever comes to a point of me getting on someone's head and screaming there must be really something wrong. I didn't like when I experienced those things when I worked at the agencies and production companies. I didn't like being talked at or talked down to so I just make sure not to do that and it just makes for a healthier environment.
Also since I make all of my clothing, it's me. I can't live without ME. I love everything that I make. I have to make my own stuff so that's just what it is. I don't even have five things, it's more like four things.
As told to Christyna Pourhabib