Brown City Shakers: R. StylR Louison & the AuthentiCatNation
I recently had the opportunity to sit and chat with Life stylist, Talk Radio host, Author, and Pastor R. StylR Louison. With twenty years of experience in fashion and the creative arts, R. StylR sat down with me to discuss his journey to where he is today as well as the AuthentiCatNation.
Originally hailing from Brooklyn, New York his life early on was full of obstacles. With his mother battling addiction, his Brother born with Cerebral Palsy, and his Father off living his own life, R. StylR was a self proclaimed poor kid with a dream to be an entrepreneur. Inspired by the way his Uncle dressed he developed his eye for fashion and as he grew, took that interest and studied and nurtured it. He started taking on and styling clients while working for companies like Gap and H&M where his natural ability to connect and help people, spurred his career as a life stylist.
X : What exactly is a life stylist?
R: Well a wardrobe stylist is someone who goes through a rack of clothing and helps you put together your wardrobe, but a life stylist goes through the rack of your life and helps you make sense of all the things you go through in your life.
X: You are wardrobe stylist, life stylist, talk radio show host, Author, and Pastor. How do wake up everyday and do justice to them all?
R: Well you see, what I think brings a continuity into everything I do, and that's not everything I do. I just try to narrow it down so people get a really good snap shot of who I am, but I do a lot of things. But what brings a continuity is that I'm a people person. I love people. I am passionate about people and what drives me is helping people figure out why they are here. You know that's one of the things that really drives me, it's to help people. The situations and circumstances that I grew up in weren't the best but I made it through and I've learned to live by some principles. I've learned to live by some mantras. I want to do the best that I can to help people figure things out for themselves whether I'm doing it through my radio show, whether I'm doing it through pastoring, whether I'm doing it through life styling, or dressing people, or through my fashion line. However I can inspire someone, is how I'm going to inspire them and that's what really gets me going. I love to inspire people. To motivate. I am a navigator by nature. That's just how I'm wired. That's what gives me the drive. I like to see people win and that's what gets me going and keeps me driven.
X: It's very rare to hear someone who's really living their truth and you are. Your truth is you want to help people. A lot of people want to help people but a lot of people want to help themselves too. You're using your truth to help people and it's not something you see everyday.
R: Yeah and I feel like we're all given one life to live and I'm big on legacy and I'm big on just leaving my foot print. I want my life to outlive me with the things that I produce and the people that I help because again we think legacy is only children, legacy is only our homes, and that's fine. I really believe that legacy is your voice print, if you can inspire someone and leave your voice print, your voice can echo for eternity. I think of my Grandmother who passed away in 2010 from cancer and the influence and the footprint she left on my life is still carrying on. Her legacy was love and she loved people unconditionally. Yes she was imperfect. No one is perfect but she knew how to love unconditionally and for me that is the impression and hand print that she left on my life. So now her legacy is continuing through me. You can only win in life really by helping other people.
X: That is the truth. Now I am going to ask about the AuthentiCatNation. Break it down for me because we all want to be a part of the nation that is AuthentiCat.
R: Here is the deal with AuthentiCatNation, and it's so funny because every year I do a poll on social media and I ask everyone when you think of me, what do you think of? For me, growing up in my twenties, everyone knew me for fashion. The funny thing is, I don't consider myself ground breaking. I'm just authentic. I'm just who I am. I don't wear things that are just like, where did you get that? That's not me. I'm not gawdy. I'm not trying to stand out. I'm just trying to be myself and people always associated me with fashion. So as I began to transition and was transitioning into life styling. I was trying to get away from the fashion and re brand myself but it would not move. I'm putting up inspirational quotes and things like that, and I took the poll and people kept saying fashion. I'm like, I can't shake it. So doing my broadcast, I started calling my followers AuthentiCats. You know because you hear people say you're the realest cat ever. So I'm like hey, my followers AuthentiCats and it stuck for them. They're the one that actually pushed me to do something. They're like, do you have t-shirts? So I'm like, I'm not trying to do fashion right now. I'm not trying to do it. So they're really the ones that extracted it out of me. They pulled the AuthentiCatNation clothing line out of me. That's where it came from. It came from the followers and supporters of the Authentic movement.
X: You see how life just works out? It's funny you were trying to escape your fashion background and it followed you, but when you decided to embrace it ended up being something you wouldn't had thought it to be.
R: Exactly because I was trying to get away from it. My first batch sold out in three days. So I had to prolong the launch because I had nothing to put out. I had no product. This is really nothing that I expected. This is really not something that I wanted to do but it was really the followers, the fans, and supporters. Thank you AuthentiCats!
X: Well, my next question is about the #OneADayVitaminA that you do on Instagam. Where did that idea come from?
R: One a day vitamin A. It actually started three years ago. I know there are a lot of people out there on social media are doing the inspirational quotes and videos, but I was out here three years ago. It started out as me jogging near Prospect Park and it was like, you know what, I feel like saying something. It was when Instagram had just got video so I was like let me figure out how to use this because I have something to say. I want to talk to my people and whether people were looking or listening, it didn't really matter. I just wanted to put it out there. That's the thing with out content, you don't exist. Your brand doesn't exist online if people can't find you. So One A Day Vitamin A is all about authenticity and it's whatever inspires me for the day. You know I literally tried my best to plan it out, it was horrible, it failed, because it wasn't organic. So literally it comes out whenever I feel it. Whether it's the first thing I think of when I wake up or if it's at the end of the day after a day of working on projects, whatever inspires me I just talk about it. Just like they say an apple a day keeps the doctor away. I think that an authentic thought a day keep the fake away. So that's what the One A Day Vitamin A is all about. Little seeds of inspiration that I like to throw out there and plant.
X: Okay okay, since you have a foot in everything. What are some obstacles that you encountered that you didn't anticipate and what is one thing that knocked you off of your axis?
R: That's a very interesting question. I think that what's unique about me is that I am a visionary but I also know how to write the vision, make it plain, and then just leave it. Then it's almost like when you're driving in a car at night and your headlights only see about twenty feet ahead of you. You can't see the whole road, but you can see twenty feet ahead of you and that's kind of how I live. I understand that I'm on a road and I'm going somewhere but I try to keep sensors at least twenty feet ahead because what that does is give me room for error. It gives me room to make decisions and it keeps me at a calm pace. The very interesting thing is I rarely have those negative moments when things throw me off and I think it's because of how I'm wired. I'm always open to what's coming and if something comes towards me and a situation happens, then I just navigate it. I don't let it get me down and that's honestly speaking. My Mom thinks I'm an alien. She doesn't understand how I navigate life and how I deal with things the way that I do. But one thing I can say that really did happen to me was my Grandmothers passing. That might not be the answer you were looking for, but that's something that threw me off. Even though I knew she was sick, even though we prayed for her, and we had the best hopes she passed in 2010. I think that is the single most event in my life that really, really hit me hard and sent me into depression because I never had any one close to me die. You know you hear of people passing away and you didn't really know them. I lived with my Grandmother. She took care of me. She raised me. For her to pass that really threw me off of my course. It really put me into a depression for six months to where I was eating myself into an early grave. Thank God I made it through. I had people around who loved me and supported me and they were just there. Sometimes when you go through those things, you don't need advice or anybody to tell you what to do, you just need to be who you are and you need to deal with the reality of what it is. However it comes out, it comes out. Just know that you can't stay there. You're passing through.
X: That was a perfect answer. Everybody deals in different ways. Sometimes you get hit and it really hits you. Sometimes you can navigate it. You're not an alien. You're a human being and there's nothing wrong with that.
X: So you're writing a book, Unlock Me, and you're giving the first chapter away for free, why?
R: Well I have been writing for years, but I think my issue is not that I don't have nothing to write about, but I have too much so I have to keep repackaging. Revamping. Revising. I'm actually still not 100% done. What I did is that I just wrote the first chapter and I said you know what, it's a really good chapter, it's pretty solid and I read it often just to kind of help myself. So I wrote the first chapter just to kind of put it out there, and I decided to give the first chapter of the book away for free just to give people an idea. I feel like there's always a level of introduction and a level of value you have to create first. That's why I do the One a Day Vitamin A so people can see that wow you really have something to say. I'm adding value. So when I present something to be purchased, people will say wow he always has something good to say, this must be good. So when I present the entire book, people will already be accustomed to hearing me talk and hopefully it will be well received.
X: That's a very good idea. A very, very good idea. Now for my last and final question, what does being Brown in the City meant to you?
R: Oh wow, what does that mean to me? Honestly speaking it means everything. It definitely affects me. I mean with everything happening in our world now. On many levels. You know not only being brown in the city, but growing up poor in the city, a young black boy in the city. All of those things they still are a large part of who I am and how I carry myself. It means so much to me. First of all I still walk through a store, whether I walk through the front door or am leaving the store, I always have a fear that the alarm is going to go off. That they thought I stole something. Even though I didn't take anything. Even though I have money in my account or I have money in my pocket I always have that looming fear that the alarm is going to go off and they're going to think I stole something. You know what I mean? Which is so crazy. It is one of the craziest things and I don't know why I think that. It could be in lieu of everything that's happening in the world today. I have siblings that are half white, four of my siblings, their Mom is white, and that doesn't change anything. It gives me a different perspective of what it means to be brown in the city. What is means to be black. What it means to be mixed. I think it is important to embrace your brown-ness. I'm proud of my skin color. I'm proud to be brown in the city. I feel like everything I'm doing now as an entrepreneur, as a creator, as an artist, I'm doing it not only for myself but for the other brown boys in the city. The poor brown boys in the city. It's a hope and I think it's important for us to be a beacon of hope for the next generation. One of my Vitamin A's I says it's important for us to fall and get back up because this next generation don't want to stand on our backs, they want to stand on our shoulders. Which means they want to stand on our victories. They want to stand on our triumphs. We have to be a platform for them and I think being a brown man in the city is a big thing. Being brown in the city is not just being proud of your brown-ness, but what are you doing with your brown-ness? What are you doing with that? How are you making a difference? How are you creating a platform for someone to stand after your gone? That's what it means and I am very proud of it, very proud. That's what I'm doing with my brown in the city. I want it to be on the hilltops so everyone can see and be inspired.