Richard Johnson, affectionately known as “Mr. I Sell Things,” and his fiancé Danielle McDaniel are the entrepreneurial power couple behind Borgata luxury clothing line, the Black-owned business that’s been offering high end apparel for men, women and children; swimwear, shoes and hair at affordable prices since 2019.
“I worked to bring it to the masses because I believe in dreams big time,” COO Johnson tells Sheen. “The sky is the limit.”
And for the dynamic duo who’ve successfully built their business from the ground up, its name has a significant meaning. “It means the empowerment of one’s self,” Johnson explains of the moniker, which he says captures the essence of the pair’s personal and professional brand.
Based in Little Rock, Arkansas, Borgata is also home to Johnson’s now iconic slogan “I sell things,” the three words he said which garnered massive attention when he appeared in a COVID-19 vaccine commercial earlier this year. Borgata now offers trendy $30 T-shirts complete with the famous tag line and more.
But through the years, Borgata luxury clothing line has become more than a brand. Its successful launch also marked the beginning of a joint entrepreneurial journey for Johnson and McDaniel. Their combined expertise, coupled with their unwavering drive, has helped lay a lucrative foundation to their expansive business empire. With Borgata and their additional ventures, the CEO and COO aim to build generational wealth for their family and create jobs for fellow community members.
Just in time for Black Friday, Johnson chats with Sheen about the strategies he’s used to advance Borgata. Plus, he reflects on his journey and gives advice to aspiring entrepreneurs.
With generational wealth at the core of your personal brand, how important is it to have multiple enterprises? Why do you think serial entrepreneurship has become a trend?
The average millionaire has at least seven streams of revenue. I want to make sure that if one thing is slowing down, another is speeding up. I want to feed my children, that’s why it’s important to me [to have multiple enterprises]. I’m a family man and by the sweat of my brow, I’m going to make sure my family eats and lives the life they deserve based on me being a father and provider. I put forth the effort every day.
How do you hope to improve the narrative of Black business owners looking to start luxury clothing lines?
I always encourage people to believe in your dream, create a viable product and stand behind it, keep the faith and push forward. Don’t stop until you get to the finish line and when you get there, remember it’s another race to the next finish line. Make sure everything you do is quality and always [prioritize] quality over quantity. We, at Borgata, are known for our quality and luxury.
What I don’t want to be known as is any color. I want to be known as Black, but I need it to be known that regardless of being Black, white, Asian or Latin, for me the vision of the Borgata luxury clothing line and the narrative that matters is having a luxury clothing line comparable to Chanel and Gucci that is affordable to the masses. We added Afterpay to our website to make it affordable to everyone. Consumers need to be aware they have options. You can buy a T-shirt or a $500 quality item.
What were some of the challenges you faced when starting your own clothing line?
The main challenge we faced was finding the correct vendors to create the clothing we wanted. We already had the logo, but we needed the correct vendors to make the proper quality. Shipping and delivery are a very important aspect of online shopping and it was important to partner with shipping companies that could deliver at the quoted times. Our demand is great, we have a demand and we’re selling to the masses because they are demanding Borgata. Now, we’re in a position where we have to take pre-orders.
With mental health being a major conversation in the Black community, how have you been able to stay grounded mentally throughout the pandemic after it changed the ways consumers do business?
I pray and talk to God every morning when I wake up. The moment I wake up, I’m thankful because there’s nothing else that could go wrong after. I woke up and God gave me another day and another chance. When people ask me “How is your day going?” I say, “I woke up this morning.”
What’s your best advice to aspiring entrepreneurs battling odds stacked against them?
Understand that there’s no such thing as “odds.” Once you understand that concept and that everybody was born with infinite ability, you can do anything you want. The only person who can stop you is you. Figure out what you want to do and don’t stop running until you reach the finish line.
This feature was edited by Darlene Aderoju
Featured Image by Design 360