In honor of Black History Month, FN is recognizing African-American movers and shakers in the shoe industry. From rising stars to accomplished executives, here’s how they’re making waves and the lessons they’ve learned along the way.
Courtney and Trevor Delmore share more than parentage. The brothers also share a passion for the shoe industry, having held a range of management positions in sales, marketing, branding and product development of footwear for brands including FUBU, Robert Graham, Creative Recreation, among others.
Most recently, the Delmores, along with partners Marc Scepi and Janelle Samson, launched sneaker brand SNKR Project. It was followed in 2017 by the launch of Sole Brothers by the Delmores, a rep and consultancy business, representing G.H. Bass footwear.
What made you want to pursue a career in the shoe industry?
TD: “I was an international civil servant at the United Nations, working with people from all parts of the world. But, I didn’t see myself there long-term since I wasn’t excited or challenged. Courtney was in the footwear industry, and I was always looking at what he was doing. Coming from England, fashion’s in our blood, having been exposed to it growing up. I went [on the road] with Courtney one day and thought, ‘This is not only fun but has great benefits.’ The shoe industry gave me a way to execute my natural talent for art and design, having gone to art school when I was younger. I was able to travel extensively, work on the product and sale sides. I have also been a die-hard relationship builder. It encapsulated all these things.”
What has been the biggest obstacle you’ve faced along the way?
CD: “Prior to putting my picture on LinkedIn, I was getting calls from everywhere for opportunities. One of my friends said, ‘You should put your picture on LinkedIn since you’re a handsome guy and dress well.’ However, as soon as I did in 2012, there was radio silence. Times have changed for the better but still have a long way to go. Regardless of your experience or what you can bring to the table, there are companies and people that are narrow-minded or set in their ways.”
How did you overcome it?
CD: “I stayed true to who I am. I didn’t waiver. I didn’t allow anyone or anything to dictate to me. I always presented myself in a professional manner. I always made sure I was well-versed. People respected that, but it didn’t change the fact if I had to go five miles down the road, I was only allowed to go 4.75. I’d never get all the way through. However, there were a lot of people that vouched for who we were and what we were about. It’s the reality of world today. Even Barack Obama had to hold his head high and stay true to [himself], regardless of all the rocks being thrown at him and do his job to the best of his ability.”
What advice would you give to your younger self?
TD: “I had opportunities to have executive roles over most of my career. Instead [of taking those roles], I would have become more entrepreneurial. I was involved in all aspects of the business, from product design development to management, giving me the experience and desire to be in the know across different areas.”
Best advice for other African-Americans looking to enter the shoe industry?
CD: “It’s important to present yourself in a professional manner and never give up on yourself, never walk in fear or allow anyone to change who you are.”
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