I’m sitting in the waiting area waiting for Darrick to arrive, the doorman has informed me he’s running a little late but that’s typical Darrick. As I take in the ambiance of the building, I look at the vaulted ceilings, the large chandelier, the oversized stain glass windows, and the colorful pop art iconic of Andy Warhol, it all fits the personality of an artist/designer.
Darrick soon walks in and he’s not dressed in the classic Brooks Brother’s blazer or Tartan Scottish kilt with a boater that he would wear to a trendy event like the Veuve Clicquote Polo Classic. Instead he’s wearing a pair of Nike boots, with navy blue utility pants, a navy blue shirt with a sweatshirt covering what appears to be his uniform. Now the image of the Instagram famous bow tie man is altered. He’s a workingman, like many people starting a small businesses. Darrick just finished working sixteen hours as correctional officer in New York City and he doesn’t look the least bit unhappy to be doing his job.
He quickly goes to his apartment to change and meets me on the roof of the building where he catches me taking in the skyline. The interview starts and he offers me a glass of champagne and we sit and begin the interview. Mind you, he is now wearing a Missoni Robe, t-shirt, sweats, and Addidas slippers.
Q: So why make bowties? I mean, why not suits or blazers or shoes? Why specifically would you start creating a line of bowties?
A: If you ask anyone who truly knows me, I’ve always been interested in the details. While I appreciate designer labels, I think the complete look needs something that sets it a part from the next person walking out of the store with the same expensive outfit. It took me a while to realize what that piece could be. I like accessories that stand out and compliment a look, but don’t take away from it. Then it hit me one day, out of the blue, you should make bowties.
Q: So, a bowtie makes the ultimate accessory? That’s interesting because I’ve known you a long time and I’ve never saw you as a bowtie guy.
A: Bowties make the ultimate accessory! You can dress it up, dress it down, women and men, boys and girls, the rich, the middle class, and the ones that wish they had more can wear it. It’s a universal piece, culturally speaking. So once I realized that, I just had to make a DLeak Bowtie.
Q: What’s A DLeak Bowtie? Would you say you have a signature look or appeal and who would be you customer if you were to describe them?
A: A DLeak Bowtie is edgy, simple, sophisticated, textured, and compliments anyone who wants to stand out and be seen. The outfit doesn’t make you, but your outfit and accessories can make someone do a double take and everyone deserves to have that feeling of being fashionably recognized. When I see my bowties on celebrities like R&B singer Tank I feel the same sense of worth when I see a groom wearing my bowtie on his wedding day, or the young college kid trying to make a statement at an event. That’s how I know I’ve found my calling because I know I’m giving people something really special and it doesn’t matter who they are, if they can reach out and order a bowtie I’m game to make it happen. I say this because, people think you change when you get some publicity, but DLeak started out as a ripple in New York City and now folks all over the world are ordering bowties.
Q: So how big are you trying to be in the fashion industry? I think some people think that’s cocky or ghetto to put your name Darrick Leak on a product that isn’t mainstream or high fashion. By using your name its almost as if you are reaching a bit too high with that approach, but I’m asking for clarification.
A: I just hope that I continue to make small ripples and turn it into a big splash someday. The thing is, I know I will because I’ll never forget my vision of keeping the details alive. The D in DLeak is not for my name Darrick. It stands for Details by Leak and that’s always been me…always more concerned about the details never about the brand name. You can take a very cheap outfit and dress it up with very good accessories. Your shoes, hat, a scarf, pin, bracelet, and a bowtie!!!!! lol can make the look.
Q: How does DLeak give back to his community? You grew up in Brooklyn, NY and have made a business that many people respect you for and have inspired so many people to want to pursue creating a business. What advice do you have for those people?
A: I give back by helping young people growing up in the hood to start their movement…because I know I’m a real life example of beating the odds. The give back comes from my sponsorships and charity events where I donate. But on a deeper level, I look for the kids that I see myself in and I give them what I didn’t get. Mentorship. I would tell anyone who is trying to start a business in this day and age to just think outside the box. What isn’t already on the market? What would you want to see someone wearing or doing that you haven’t already seen? Don’t be afraid to try new things. Most importantly, be consistent in your work. People are not always going to like your ideas, but as long as you’re consistent they will respect you.
We ended the interview with a toast, to brotherhood; to continuing to grow and for the many opportunities we have had to see each other progress in life. Remember, if #blacklivesmatter then #blackbusinessesmatter.