In 2020, JT launched Empire Xclusive, which is a luxury retail store that is known for having the latest urban streetwear brands from your favorite big-name and local streetwear brands. With much success, Thomas and his fiance/business partner Brandi Yvonne set forth to keep building an “empire” by expanding to multiple locations and other business adventures

Can you tell us more about who is Jared “JT” Thomas?

If I was to describe Jared “JT” Thomas (myself) in short, he would be a visionary and serial entrepreneur with an amazing work ethic.

Tell us about how you overcame homelessness to now owning several high-end streetwear clothing stores?

Overcoming homelessness and countless other childhood disadvantages have been quite the journey. But for me, life has always been about perspective. So, I learned early on to focus on the things I could control. That is what led me to launch my first business (Auto Detail Spa) at 14 and later develop what is now Empire Xclusive.

Can you tell us more about the company, Empire Xclusive, and your motivation to launch it?

Empire Xclusive is a fast-growing multi-location upscale streetwear Boutique. We specialize in providing an upscale shopping experience intertwined with High Fashion streetwear and the latest most desired footwear.

What was it that made you and your fiancé/business partner, Brandi Yvonne, know that when the pandemic hit it would possibly be the best time to launch this company?  

To say it was planned for the opening to fall during the pandemic would be stretching the truth. The pandemic honestly resulted in losing the first 2 initial Empire store locations. But I can say that the pandemic showed us that no matter what, the one who wins are the one who never quit!

Did you find it difficult to get major designers and brands to opening collaborate with your company, especially being new to the scene and fashion industry?

This has actually been the most challenging part of launching Empire Xclusive. There are so many politics and relationships between brands and existing stores that it makes it hard to nearly impossible to have reputable brands open up accounts with a new business. But like anything else in life, it’s about perspective so our approach has been adding value and allowing our work to speak for itself instead of allowing the no’s to deter us from pushing forward.


Can you get a few tips on how to ensure that your business is pandemic proof?

In my nearly 20 years of entrepreneurship, I’ve learned that the most important component in business is self-branding. Consumers consume brands (people). The more effective You are at making yourself and the service or product you provide unforgettably, and customer-focused the higher your chances are of overall success during a pandemic.

What advice could you provide to other that are currently where you’ve been and desire to make similar moves as you have, but are not sure how?

My advice would be to understand that life is so beautiful because it’s truly controlled by you. You only go as far as your education focus and work ethic will take you. It doesn’t matter ethnicity or starting point you can end the mission wherever you chose but with the education of your desired field combined with laser focus and Kobe Bryant like work ethic you can do anything you set your mind to

What can we expect from Empire Xclusive in the future?

Outside of the major expansion plans, you can expect Empire to keep a really high focus on customer service and making sure our core and new customers understand that they are priority 1 and essentially FAMILY

How can people connect with you to learn more, as well as continue to follow Empire Xclusive?

We are currently filming a How-To YouTube channel to show future and current entrepreneurs how to create and scale a business as well as BTS of the raw unedited footage of the process.