By Reginald Williams,
Special to the AFRO
By day, professor Floyd N. Bronson is a restorative justice program coordinator. But by nightfall, the 25-year education veteran transforms into “The Professor of Fresh,” serving as CEO of FatBoi Fresh.
Established in 2023, FatBoi Fresh is a lifestyle brand offering a selection of quality clothing for fashion-forward men with wide or tall body frames.
“Our collection features a unique combination of streetwear and modern elements for all seasons, making us a perfect destination for men’s sizes extra-large and beyond,” explained Bronson. “At FatBoi, we believe big men like to be fresh too! As a big man, all too often, there are limitations with clothing brands that fit our body type and budget. That is why we design our products with comfort, style, and price points in mind.”
Living in a society that often appears uber-sensitive with identity labels, it is interesting that Bronson named his company FatBoi, a play on the derogatory term of “fat boy,” used to make fun of men who are heavier and larger than the average male body type. The Paterson, New Jersey native explains the name is birthed from childhood experiences and his sense of fashion as an adult. He refashioned those insulting experiences into an emerging enterprise.
“As a child, my peers would call me ‘FatBoy Floyd.’ Despite not liking the name, I was in fact, a little fat boy,” Bronson said. “Thinking about that experience, using my initials “FB” and my desire to maintain a fashion-forward wardrobe as a ‘big man,’ I created FatBoi Fresh. I rebranded “FatBoy” to “FatBoi,” a modern spelling of the word. The “B” in the logo is a silhouette of a big man adorning a crown.”
FatBoi Fresh represents one of the new emerging Black businesses. Research reveals that nationwide African-American businesses grew by approximately 100,000 between February 2020 and February 2022. From 2014 to 2018, African-Americans launched businesses at a rate of 20 percent, roughly eight and nine percent higher than White and Latino populations, respectively. The more than two million Black-owned small businesses represent about three percent of all small businesses, earning roughly one percent of all gross revenue.
Beyond creating a clothing line that fills a fashion void, Bronson’s larger mission is ownership.
Invest in yourself
“As you move about, you don’t even own your time,” explained Bronson about being employed. “As a result of not owning your time, you’re always exchanging time for money. My current situation
[as an educational coordinator
] forces me to be in a situation where a lot of man hours are being dedicated, but I’m only perfecting other people’s crafts. With FatBoi, this is me taking ownership of my next move. This isn’t about FatBoi but, what comes as a result of the success of FatBoi. This is establishing a legacy for my children.”
Although entrepreneurship in Black communities continues to rise, rudimentary nine to five job offerings continue to offer economic stability for Black families. Regarding the 40-hour work week, Bronson believes the talents of Black folk often serve a greater advantage to their employers.
Despite a spending power of $1.6 trillion, economists suggest that Black people own one-sixth the wealth of White Americans on average. Black spending power is as much as the gross national income for Russia and Brazil, and greater than Australia and Spain. The intersection between Black earning power and deficit in the wealth gap serves as a source of inspiration for Bronson.
Recognizing the prominence of African-American entrepreneurs like Madam C.J. Walker, Jeremiah Hamilton, and Mary Ellen Pleasants, who understood the value of business ownership and its effects on the Black family and community. Bronson knows that building an enterprise and following the ancestral footsteps will not occur trying to accumulate wealth through employment or academia.
] down education. I don’t knock education—I’ve earned four degrees,” explained Bronson. “As an educator, I’m always an advocate for education, but when I think about those four degrees, they’re only receipts of completion. They didn’t come with guarantees. I’ve already invested $247,000 into the American education system. Imagine if I had invested $247,000 into FatBoi Fresh. Imagine if I had invested $247,000 into Floyd Bronson. Imagine if I had invested $247,000 into
] Jadyn Bronson and Jordyn Bronson. Now I’m going to bet on myself. If I had invested that money, I would see more than the six figures I earn a year as an educator, even with making business mistakes.”
The painstaking obstacles of entrepreneurship
The joy of commerce is often met by barriers like insufficient time, funding, and unexpected setbacks that spur emotional pain. Many aspiring entrepreneurs view challenges and setbacks as the enemy of building an enterprise. But Bronson sees those obstacles as a part of the process.
In his efforts to secure the launching of his summer line, Bronson suffered several unfortunate setbacks. The relationship with his original vendor soured and delayed production, but he shared that the lessons learned were invaluable. Bronson invested thousands of dollars in securing a new vendor only to procure products that failed to meet his satisfaction. Even after finding the right vendor, he experienced problems receiving his product because of holiday delays, religious observation delays, shipping, and customs delays. Each impediment caused the FatBoi Fresh CEO to miss delivery dates promised to customers and challenged his confidence.
“As a small business, there are setbacks and things have to be adjusted,” explained Bronson. “But that’s no excuse not to see it through. We see all the high points and wins, but folks are unwilling to share the downside.”
FatBoi Fresh’s summer line had a soft launch in late May. They are preparing for the release of their entire summer line and fall lineup.
Bronson, with his fashion-forward mission is cultivating a legacy for his children, Jadyn and Jordyn.
“With FatBoi, I’m positioning myself so that my children won’t feel the impact of what I felt
[perfecting someone else’s craft
],” said Bronson. “FatBoi is freedom: not just for me, but
] my children.”
Reginald Williams, the author of “A Marginalized Voice: Devalued, Dismissed, Disenfranchised & Demonized” writes on Black men and Holistic Health concerns. Please email [email protected] or visit amvonlinestore.com for more information.