K. Michael Turns His Passion For Fashion Into A Brand
Khristian Michael is a New York brother who has found his way into the elite world of eyewear design, which is a somewhat odd feat for an African-American male. His brand Forever K. Michael the Collection is the biggest selling brand of eyewear in Dubai and he’s never even been there. When asked about his humble beginnings K. Michael says, “I was always known for wearing eyewear in the fashion industry. I was an A&R for an independent label and I was doing a lot of events, fashion shows and movie premieres and wearing eyewear was always a passion of mine so when the record industry started to change, I decided to put my destiny into my own hands. I had already worked with artists such as Seal Paul from the YoungBloodZ, DJ Cool of “Let Me Clear My Throat” fame and more. I remember speaking with one of my mentors who was the National Director of Promotions for Arista and Warner Brothers Records for about 10 years and he told me that if I was able to sell myself that I would make a lot of money. I didn’t sing, I didn’t twirl batons, I didn’t play ball but I knew I had a passion for fashion. I knew what looked good so I decided to take my passion for fashion into the eyewear industry.”
K. Michael continued, explaining how how took to passion into practice. “I graduated from college in marketing, advertising and real estate but that had nothing to do with a fashion background. It was a business background. So I began to educate myself on designing. I began going online and researching and then I spent all of my savings on getting product, creating product, having molds made, learning about plastics and acetate, lens, ejection moldings and from that point I got the licensing deal. But it all stemmed from my circumstantial life which made me put my destiny into my own hands. That situation made me execute my passion which was fashion.”
When you come from an A&R background and you have a keen sense of fashion it’s a no brainer as to why distributors NYS Collection took on the K. Michael brand. When it comes to having a connection to music K states, “The artists were signed as brand ambassadors to the K. Michael brand and the K. Michael Collection meaning that they just endorsed the brand. I had those artists endorsing the K. Michael collection and I ended up giving those artists endorsement deals with the brand in exchange for whatever I gave them in contract they would promote the brand, put it in their music videos, in their songs and wear the brand on their tours and things like that.
Most people don’t understand the method to my madness as to why I chose certain people that inspire me like MTV’s Fanny Pack, Cupid “Cupid Shuffle” or Nappy Roots. For me it’s always about me being inspired and now that I have Shaq everybody is coming at me for work but for every artist or personality that I work with there is a personal story or attachment that inspired me to work with those individuals. If I don’t have a personal connection that inspires me I can’t do the deal and as the CEO and President of the K Michael Collection the last word is always mine and before my Grandmother passed I went to a family reunion and when the “Cupid Shuffle” song came on everyone in my family got up and danced so there was the connection for me. The talent is the icing on the cake, but the personal connection is the foundation.”
When asked about the work he did with Southside Jamaica Queens’ own The Lost Boyz, Mr. Michael gladly says, “I just did a video with Mr. Cheeks less than a month ago and we were all over the place Yankee stadium and a lot of other places but when I did the deal with The Lost Boyz back in 2010 everyone said they were irrelevant and they’re not poppin’ right now. To me these guys inspired me musically to be where I am today because I remember getting into my old beat up Grand Am and picking up my girlfriend from high school and putting the tape in the tape deck and we would rock out to The Lost Boyz. So as the President and CEO of my company that was my way giving back. It didn’t matter to me if they were relevant in the music industry.”
As if that wasn’t enough, finally one of the biggest dogs of them all, Shaquille O’Neal, came knocking at K. Michael’s door to work with him and about that experience he states, “I had just signed Fanny Pack from MTV’s ABDC and the agent that put me on to them told me that he had a list of celebrities that he networks with which also included Tynisha Keli who a huge singer in Japan and she’s really big with the Asian crowd. We go to San Francisco and it’s all over the papers that K. Michael is coming. The Agent that got me Fanny Pack calls me and says, “Hey I’m reading the newspaper and I see the K. Michael brand is debuting in San Francisco center is that you?” “I say yea that’s me and he says,” “I’m in the area and I’m gonna come check you out.” He had seen the product but he had never seen the presentation in the mall. I was a little nervous because I didn’t know how high his expectations were. He walks in the mall and sees a big poster of me and Tynisha hanging from the rafters and he says, “Hey man, your presentation is the real deal.” He then tells me that Shaq is his client and that he was looking to launch his eye wear line and that there was a bidding war going on and that he was gonna throw me in the bid. I’m thinking to myself you wanna throw me in a Lion’s den? [Laughing] So, they got a hold of the video that Tynisha Keli and I did in San Francisco and then I get a phone call and they tell me that they’ve seen what I did with TK and the brand and that they also got a hold of the eyewear and they wanted to meet with me the following week. We traveled up to Boston because Shaq was playing for Boston at the time. We met him at the hotel and he loved the presentation and he loved what we did and even though he had a bunch of different eyewear companies he could have went to he assured me he was going sign the deal with me. He looked me in my eyes and said, “I’m gonna sign this deal with you.” We did it on a handshake until the lawyers got involved and here we are today.”
Currently the Forever K. Michael Collection has about 10-11 different styles in 35 colors and the Shaq brand has 7 different styles and 20 different colors. K. Michael is also designing MTV’s Jersey Shore Snookie’s eyewear brand for his distributor NYS Collection and they are currently in 40 different countries and 1500 Malls worldwide.
You can check out the Forever K. Michael Collection at www.foreverkmichael.com and you can check out Shaquille’s eyewear brand at www.dunkmaneyewear.com
Check out the rest of our interview below:
Parlé: What’s your favorite food?
K. Michael: Chinese
Parlé: What’s your favorite drink alcoholic or nonalcoholic?
K. Michael: Vitamin Water
Parlé: Who’s your favorite designer dead or alive?
K. Michael: I’m a fan of myself and Michael Kors
Parlé: What’s your favorite sports team?
K. Michael: Knicks
Parlé: What is your favorite movie?
K. Michael: Braveheart
Parlé: Where is your favorite place to visit?
K. Michael: Europe, London
Parlé: What is your favorite car?
K. Michael: As long as it has leather I’m good
Parlé: What is your most memorable moment in your career to date?
K. Michael: It’s a tossup between sitting courtside with Shaq at the All Star game and going to his home to do a presentation
Parlé: What’s your favorite song?
K. Michael: I’m in to movie scores and I like the Beautiful Mind soundtrack
Parlé: What’s your favorite fashion brand?
K. Michael: I don’t really have a favorite fashion brand but I also big on the Barber and I wish they had some type of branding for that because when I put my eyewear on and I get a fresh cut I feel like I’m invincible.
Written by K.B. Tindal