JEZIGN: ENLIGHTENED ARCHITECTURE

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INTERVIEW: CHRISTOPHER “MIC HANDZ” ROGERS [@MICHANDZ]

VALIDATED: DO YOU REMEMBER WHEN YOU FIRST BECAME AWARE OF FASHION?

JEZIGN: I WOULD HAVE TO SAY PROBABLY SOME TIME EARLY ON IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL. THAT'S WHEN I REALLY BECAME AWARE OF HOW INFLUENTIAL FASHION CAN BE. WHOEVER YOU HUNG AROUND IS WHO YOU WANTED TO FIT IN WITH SO WHATEVER EVERYONE ELSE WAS WEARING IS WHAT YOU EMULATED. IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL WAS WHEN I FIRST NOTICED THIS.

VALIDATED: WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START YOUR OWN BRAND?

JEZIGN: WHEN I FIRST CAME UP WITH THE IDEA FOR THE ILLUMINATED SHOE, WE REACHED OUT TO DIFFERENT WELL KNOWN FOOTWEAR BRANDS IN AN ATTEMPT TO LICENSE THE TECHNOLOGY. WE GOT CAUGHT UP IN ALOT OF RED TAPE DEALING WITH THEM. I DECIDED AFTER THAT THAT THE IDEA WAS TOO GOOD TO WAIT AROUND ON THEM SO I STARTED MY OWN BRAND.  


VALIDATED: WHAT MAKES THE BRAND AND IT'S DESIGN UNIQUE?

JEZIGN: WELL, IT'S BEEN IMITATED BY SO MANY AT THIS POINT BUT WHAT MADE IT UNIQUE WAS THE WAY IN WHICH WE INCORPORATED THE LIGHTS IN THE SOLE OF THE SHOE. UP UNTIL THAT POINT, SHOES WITH LIGHTS PRIMARILY HAD THE LIGHTS IN THE HEEL AND THE LIGHTS WOULD ONLY BLINK OR FLASH WHEN YOU TOOK A STEP. WITH OUR SHOES, THE LIGHTS WERE IN THE THE MAJORITY OF THE SOLE OF THE SHOE AND STAYED ON CONTINUOUSLY AT THE PUSH OF A BUTTON. THERE IS NO BLINKING OR FLASHING OF THE LIGHTS IN OUR FOOTWEAR. YOU CAN TURN THE LIGHTS ON OR OFF AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION. THIS WAS WHAT WAS EXPLAINED AND SHOWCASED IN THE PATENTS WE RECEIVED FROM THE GOVERNMENT FOR THE IDEA. ALSO, WE TRIED TO COUPLE THE ILLUMINATION WITH NICE FASHIONABLE SILHOUETTES THAT PEOPLE WOULD WANT TO WEAR EVEN WITH THE LIGHTS OFF.


VALIDATED: HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START?

JEZIGN: I MET MY FIRST ANGEL INVESTOR WHILE ATTENDING CLASSES AT HOWARD UNIVERSITY. THAT INVESTMENT GAVE ME THE SEED CAPITAL I NEEDED TO REALLY GET THINGS GOING ON A FASTER COURSE.


VALIDATED: DESCRIBE YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS. IS IT FROM THE SNEAKER DESIGNER APPROACH OR FROM THE TECHNICAL ENGINEERING PERSPECTIVE?

JEZIGN: EVERY IDEA STARTS IN SOMEONE'S HEAD. FIRST, WHEN I COME UP WITH AN IDEA, I FINE-TUNE IT AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE IN MY HEAD BEFORE EXECUTION. THAT WAY YOU HAVE A CLEAR GOAL OF WHAT YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE BEFORE EXECUTION. IT MAKES THE ENTIRE PROCESS SMOOTHER.   


VALIDATED: WHERE DID YOU STUDY ENGINEERING?

JEZIGN: I STUDIED IN THE SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE AND ENGINEERING AT HOWARD UNIVERSITY.

VALIDATED: WE HEAR THERE WAS A LONG JOURNEY TO THIS DAY INVOLVING PATENT INFRINGEMENT AND VARIOUS PRODUCTION DEALS. HOW HAS THIS JOURNEY SHAPED THE BRAND AND THE MAN BEHIND IT?

JEZIGN: YES, GREAT IDEAS ARE ALWAYS IMITATED. THEY SAY IMITATION IS THE HIGHEST FORM OF FLATTERY. WE, UNFORTUNATELY, HAVE BEEN INVOLVED IN LITIGATION AGAINST SOME OF THESE INFRINGERS. A PATENT GIVES YOU THE RIGHT TO EXCLUDE OTHERS FROM MAKING, SELLING, AND IMPORTING PRODUCTS THAT ARE COPIES OF THE INVENTION YOUR PATENT PROTECTS. MORE OFTEN THAN NOT, COMPANIES DO NOT RESPECT THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS OF OTHERS. AS A RESULT, WE HAVE BEEN FORCED TO SUE NUMEROUS BRANDS. AS MENTIONED EARLIER, WE BELIEVE THAT ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR OUR GREATER GOOD. WE KNOW THERE IS A PURPOSE TO EVERYTHING AND THAT IT WILL HELP US IN THE LONG RUN SOMEHOW.


VALIDATED: WHAT'S YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY INVOLVING ENGINEERING? WHAT MADE YOU APPLY IT TO SNEAKERS?

JEZIGN: MY EARLIEST MEMORY OF ENGINEERING AND SNEAKERS WOULD BE WHEN I CUT THE SPRINGS OUT OF MY MATTRESS AND TAPED THEM TO MY SNEAKERS IN ORDER TO TRY TO JUMP HIGHER. I PLAYED BASKETBALL AND BEFORE MY LEGS WERE STRONG ENOUGH TO DUNK ON MY OWN, THIS WAS MY SOLUTION AT 11 YEARS OLD. LOL


VALIDATED: WHAT IS THE LONG TERM GOAL YOU HAVE FOR YOUR COMPANY?

JEZIGN: WE WANT TO CONTINUE TO INNOVATE. WE HAVE OTHER NEW IDEAS THAT WE WANT TO INTRODUCE AND BRING TO MARKET THAT WE BELIEVE WILL BE JUST AS REVOLUTIONARY.


VALIDATED: WE HAVE HEARD THAT YOU ARE A VERY SPIRITUAL PERSON, DOES THAT PLAY A ROLE IN HOW YOU CONDUCT BUSINESS OR HANDLE YOUR TEAM?

JEZIGN: DEFINITELY! IN BUSINESS, PROBLEMS AND UNEXPECTED SITUATIONS WILL ALWAYS COME. AS MENTIONED, I BELIEVE THE BIBLE TEACHES THAT PROBLEMS WILL COME BUT THAT ULTIMATELY EVERYTHING IS FOR YOUR GREATER GOOD. I DEFINITELY SEEK GOD'S GUIDANCE ALWAYS. IF IT WEREN'T FOR HIM, I WOULD NEVER HAVE TAKEN THE FIRST STEPS IN CREATING MY IDEA AND THE BRAND.


VALIDATED: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNG DESIGNERS?

JEZIGN: I WOULD TELL THEM FIRST AND FOREMOST TO NOT LISTEN TO NAYSAYERS AND BELIEVE IN WHAT IT IS YOU'RE DOING IF YOU'RE PASSIONATE ABOUT IT. HATERS WILL TURN INTO IMITATORS AND I'VE EXPERIENCED THIS FIRSTHAND. YOU CAN'T PAY ATTENTION TO THEM. PRETEND THEY DON'T EXIST. ALSO, TO REALLY GET NOTICED, TRY TO DO SOMETHING THAT HAS NEVER BEEN DONE OR DO SOMETHING THAT IS BEING DONE AND DO IT BETTER.


VALIDATED: WHAT'S YOUR MOTTO/RULES TO LIVE BY?

JEZIGN: KEEP GOD FIRST!


VALIDATED: WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST DIFFICULT ASPECT OF GETTING YOUR BRAND OFF THE GROUND AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THAT?

JEZIGN: INITIALLY, IT WAS CAPITAL. I HAD THE IDEA FOR YEARS BEFORE I WAS ABLE TO REALLY GET THINGS INTO MOTION. THAT MOVEMENT DID NOT HAPPEN UNTIL WE MET OUR FIRST ANGEL INVESTOR. JUST LIKE A BABY NEEDS FOOD AND NURTURE TO GROW, A COMPANY NEEDS SEED CAPITAL TO GROW. JUST LIKE A SEED IN THE SOIL NEEDS WATER TO SPROUT, A COMPANY NEEDS SEED CAPITAL TO SPROUT.  

VALIDATED: WHAT ARE TWO ASPECTS OF BUSINESS IN WHICH YOU BELIEVE A NEW BRAND SHOULD INVEST RESOURCES?

JEZIGN: I WOULD SAY TO INVEST IN GOOD PEOPLE TO JOIN YOUR COMPANY WHO SEE AND BELIEVE IN THE VISION. I WOULD ALSO SAY TO INVEST VARIOUS WAYS TO MARKET AND GET YOUR BRAND RECOGNIZED. BRANDS NEED TO GROW TO BECOME SUCCESSFUL AND THESE TWO INVESTMENTS ARE INSTRUMENTAL IN THAT GROWTH.


VALIDATED: WHICH CELEBRITIES, IF ANY HAVE BEEN SPOTTED IN YOUR SHOES?

JEZIGN: CHRIS BROWN, PAUL WALL, LLOYD, ZAB JUDAH, AARON CARTER, ADAM LEVINE, LIL SCRAPPY AND WU TANG CLAN TO NAME A FEW.


VALIDATED: WHEN IS THE OFFICIAL RELAUNCH OF THE BRAND?

JEZIGN: WE HAVE ALREADY RE-LAUNCHED AND PEOPLE CAN NOW PURCHASE THE SHOES ON THE WEBSITE WWW.JEZIGN.NET AND IN SELECT RETAILERS.  


VALIDATED: WHERE CAN OUR READERS FOLLOW YOUR BRAND ON SOCIAL MEDIA AND PURCHASE YOUR CLOTHING ON THE WEB?

JEZIGN: THEY CAN GO TOWWW.JEZIGN.NET FOR LINKS TO ALL OF OUR SOCIAL MEDIA. THERE ARE SOME FAKE JEZIGN SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS OUT THERE BUT THE REAL ONES ARE ALL LINKED FROM OUR WEBSITEWWW.JEZIGN.NET.