OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The Midlands African Chamber is on a mission to help minority-owned businesses in our area succeed.
The chamber is holding a competition called Pitch Black. Small business owners or people with a business idea pitch their business plan to a group of professional judges. The winner will take home a grand prize.
For the next few weeks, we'll be introducing you to some of the businesses that have made it to the semifinals of the competition. 3 News Now Anchor Serese Cole begins with an adult clothing business with a strong and edgy message.
Fashion is James Buckley, Jr's passion.
His style-savvy started in high school.
"We started a sneaker line called Fake Fly Kicks Every day. What that showed me was I can grab something like clothing and push a narrative and make a living off it. As kids we would grab hoodies and sell out in two days," Buckley recalled.
But as he grew older, he noticed how he was being perceived for some of his own fashion choices.
"I had dreadlocks. I think having dreads with the combination of style and things of that nature pushed a narrative where people thought maybe this guy isn't somebody that I can talk to or maybe this guy does this or that," Buckley reflected. "I just realized that I was always judged by my perception and how I looked. I'd have a lot of negative energy based on my appearance."
James's message is it's not what's on you, it's what's in you that matters.
That is what propelled him into the clothing industry.
He decided to change the narrative and create his own clothing line.
"We are a high-end streetwear brand. We are very indicative of being gory and pushing the narrative of F.C. Clothing. Do your research on that," he explained.
His apparel can be found inside The 365 Store on 15th and Farnam.
But it's not for kids.
"Oh, it's edgy. It's living on the edge," he laughed.
There are shirts, hats, jumpsuits and jackets.
"It's high-end streetwear, but it's still in a pocket that's affordable," Buckley shared.
Hyenas are one of his brand's trademarks.
"If you look in the wild, who moves in a unit? The hyenas. They are deemed not as successful by themselves, but together they are powerful," Buckley said. "That's how we are at F.C. Clothing. Together as someone who generates the product for you, together we can push this narrative and do some dope things in the world."
After more than three years of owning his own fashion business, it's happening.
His big break came when his clothing line got the attention of the popular online boutique, Dolls Kill.
"We are on multiple high-end platforms. Dolls Kill has 3.5 million followers on Instagram so we went global," he said with pride.
Buckley said it's just the beginning.
"Where do you want to go from here?" asked Serese.
"To the moon, to the moon and back," Buckley said.
While there are no limits for his clothing creativity, the goal remains the same.
"It's really for everybody. In the store, you'd be surprised at who I sell to. I sell to people who feel judged. That's really who I cater to people who feel judged," Buckley said.
People who just want to be seen, no matter what they wear.
Buckley said if he wins the competition, he'll invest that money in marketing for his company and then reach out to other small businesses in the metro and help them succeed.
To see his clothing line, you can stop by The 365 Store at 1517 Farnam Street or go to www.dollskill.com.
The Pitch Black winner will receive $10,000. The 2nd place finisher will take home $5,000 and the 3rd recipient will walk away with a $3,000 prize. The 4th and 5th place winners will both receive $1,000 to help their businesses grow.
For more information, visit Midlands African Chamber's website.