For many people, fashion isn’t just a customary approach to dress. It’s a living art form that allows one to visually articulate who they are. The only limitations that can be placed upon this creative mode of expression exist solely in the human mind. If the sky is truly the limit, then a fashion designer with vision is one who has a mind conceived beyond the restrictions of our earth’s atmosphere.
Louis Narcisse, 39, has all of the makings of one such individual. Eight years ago Narcisse launched Pharaonicorp, a men and women’s clothing line inspired by the artwork of the Nile Valley’s ancient civilizations. “I find the art and architecture of Kemet very regal and inspiring,” says the Haitian A-Moor-ican by way of Flatbush, Brooklyn during a recent interview with Mind Glow Media. “For me, just knowing that it was one of many African cultures that helped to civilize and teach the world makes me proud to be a part of it and represent the African Diaspora.”
While many designers resign themselves to simply crafting the hottest clothing, Narcisse is busy tailoring his dream, which is your imminent return to greatness.
When did you initially realize that you had a strong appreciation for fashion?
Well, from a very young age, I would say. My mom always had a great sense of style and always instilled in my siblings and I that one should always be presentable and mindful of their appearances because it’s how the world judges you. How you dress should be a reflection of the pride you have in yourself. It stuck with me when I started working in my teen years. I remember my mom getting upset that I spent most of my money on clothes and shoes, but she made me that way (laughs).
Why is fashion important to you?
Fashion is important to me because it’s how we define ourselves as individuals, groups and alliances! I’m an artist who has used his talents, personal style, and interests to combine them all into my business, which is Pharaonic Brand Designs. I don’t know if people realize the power fashion has on a global scale, but being in the industry, I see it through a different set of eyes I guess.
Pharaonicorp’s universal selling point is that it inspires its patrons to “Get Back to Greatness.” There were many ancient cultures that can encourage people to do that. What made you decide to incorporate ancient Kemetic (Egyptian) iconography in particular as your personal reference point for that greatness?
I’ve always had a calling to Kemet and many other ancient cultures. I guess it comes out of a sense of curiosity and a genuine feeling of intrigue as to how our ancestors achieved so many feats of greatness. It takes a high level of intellect and understanding of universal laws and sciences to achieve most of what many cultures of Africa have done.
How were you first introduced to the ancient history and culture of the Nile Valley?
I was drawn to it from a very early age, around 3-years-old, to be more exact. That’s around the same time that I started displaying my artistic abilities. I used to draw triangles on blank paper that my mother used to bring home. She used to take us to museums, where I would see all of the ancient artifacts and artwork. From then on, I was fascinated with African culture, especially that of Nubia and Kemet. But I’m amazed by all of the great civilizations throughout the continent and I’ve done my best to learn more about them.
I understand that you recently left your day job with the intention of pursuing your business full time. Was it a difficult decision for you to make? What challenges did you face?
Yes it was, especially with the uncertainty of today’s economy. The corporation I left, I was there for 12 years and a lot of my co-workers grew into family. This industry is changing, and I felt that I learned enough to go out into the world and see what it has in store for me. I believe in what I’m doing and have a great support system of family, friends, and customers who have helped me to realize that it’s now or never! It’s a leap of faith that anyone should take when they are passionate about something.
But as far as the challenges go, you have time management, because before when I was in the corporate world I worked five days a week from nine until whenever. I knew I would be in the office doing what I was paid to do, but now, although free of corporate bondage, I still have to keep that discipline and be sure not to waste precious time and energy. As they say, time is money. Only now, it’s my money and not a corporation’s money being wasted if I don’t use my time wisely.
Also, balancing between family, friends and the business is not easy. I know that opportunity waits for no one, so I make myself accessible whenever opportunities arise. It took some time for family and friends to understand that. I take a time out from it whenever I can, but I know that the sooner my business has legs to stand on it’s own I can devote time to my family and friends. That’s why I Grind for Greatness! I’ve spent many years building Pharaonicorp and Pharaonic Brand Design, so I am mindful of who I collaborate with and make sure that it does not conflict with the message the brand is conveying.
Are you pursuing this business endeavor on your own, or do you have other business partners?
Brother, I started this venture in 2003 and just until this year, I did everything myself. I got to the point where the brand’s reputation and popularity was growing and could not do it all myself, so I called on two good college friends, Ira Davidson and Monique Siders. I had to recruit the help of people who I knew could get the job done, and since I already know and trust them, there were no “walls” to break down. Ira handles Pharaonic Brand public relations, while Monique is the brand’s technical designer and production sourcing coordinator. Now that Team Greatness is in place, it’s easier to build on new ideas and have different perspectives on current and future endeavors. I am looking forward to the company’s growth with the help of my friends.
What is the best piece of business advice that you have ever received?
Hmmm… I’ve received so much useful business advice. The one that always seems prevalent is “Never give up and when success finds you, never forget who you are.”
How would you describe the response that Pharaonicorp has received?
For what started out as a sketch on a post-it note, to what it is now, overwhelms me even today. I think one of the most gratifying moments is when I get a message from a customer or supporter thanking me for what I do because my designs have helped them empower themselves to get through some of life’s difficult moments. The fact that Pharaonic Brand Designs touches people on an emotional level is worth more than all of the gold in the world.
There is someone out there reading this article who has an incredible talent, but they are afraid to apply it and face the uncertainty of going into business for themselves. What advice would you give them?
I would say have no fear, because we are all destined for greatness! That is what Getting Back to Greatness is all about. Do all that you can to make your dreams a reality. There is a wealth of knowledge right at your fingertips. Research what it is you want to do, take classes, inquire about apprenticeships or internships. Also, you may be as self reliant as I am, but you will still need a strong support system behind you. It makes the journey not so lonely.
Are there any new campaigns on the horizon for Pharaonicorp?
We have so much in store in the coming months and have been pacing ourselves so that we can time and calculate every move that we make. Now that I have a team in place, for the last several months we have been working on the back end of the business and making sure that we will be here for a very long time.
I have some design collaborations I have been negotiating, as well as some new Pharaonic Brand collections we will be introducing for next year. Our focus is on expansion and global recognition. By 2012 I want greatness to be on everyone’s mind as well as on their bodies (laughs).
I just want to thank the creator and all of my ancestors who guide my hand and thoughts. Thank you to all of my friends, family and all of those who have supported Pharaonic Brand over the years. I appreciate you all for believing in what we do.