Monique Knight – Business owner of RIVET – A boys clothing and accessory boutique. She focuses a huge need in the boys clothing industry. Father and son outfits, formal, upscale trendy, and casual mix and match. Boys jewelry and accessories.
Monique found a real need in dressing little boys for success and as a result thought it her mission to address this need. She comes from an innovation background working in the Innovative team for Yellow Pages from 1999-2007. This ignited her innovation to be creative and has been her passion since.
She has degrees in Masters Community Counseling and Bachelors – African American Studies. She taught social studies in Jamaica for 1 year and thought she would have a teaching career.
Hello we’re back this is the Dr. Nilda Business Foresight show. Today we have with us Monique Knight. Monique Knight is a business owner of Rivet it’s a boy’s clothing and accessory boutique. She focuses on the huge need for boys clothing in the boys clothing industry. There is a huge missing component. She does father and son outfits. She does formal and upscale trendy clothing. She does casual mix-and-match and boys accessories. Monique found a real need for little boys and how to dress them for success. She’s really forming personalities in her clothing and as a result of this she found it to be her mission to address this. She comes from an innovation background. She was in the innovation team of the Yellow Pages, which you know I’ve talked about, from 1999 to 2007 when they closed. This ignited her innovation and creativity and she’s been able to create since. She has a master’s in community counseling and a bachelor’s in African American studies. She has taught. She’s been a social studies teacher in Jamaica for a year and today she is the owner of Rivet. I have questions about that because that’s a field difference. I’ve noticed that oftentimes where we start is not where we finish but we’re also able to use all of that in our lives. I want to ask you with all of this experience that you have why a boys clothing store?
Okay well when I left the Yellow Pages in 2007 between then and now I was pursuing my counseling degree. I actually opened a boy’s rehab center and I did residential care for boys that had been incarcerated and were in the process of leaving the jail system and being rehabilitated into the community. During the 10 years, almost that I did that I noticed that there was a thing that ran through all of the cases and that was that the boys really didn’t have a good strong identity. They didn’t have a good sense of who they were and who they wanted to be. They all kind of had low self-esteem and high insecurity. I wanted to offer something on the forefront when their young that shows how important they are to society, how valuable our sons are to us as parents, and how much we need boys to grow up to be strong men in our community.
And how important they are to society.
That’s amazing. You have a boy’s not just a clothing store but a clothing boutique. Now I especially in my earlier years when I first started working I loved shopping in boutiques because you went in everything was neat and clean and everything was in this area. You have a boy’s boutique which is just phenomenal. What do you have that other stores don’t? There’s a lot of stores that carry a boy’s line not specifically a boy store but carry a boy’s line. What are you offering that they don’t?
We offer those hard-to-find items. We offer a lot of dressy clothes that you’re not going to find in your traditional stores unless you’re paying a lot of money to dress them in a Couture outfit. We offer a place where you can find all of those things and a collection that you don’t have to sift through you don’t have to search from one store to another. We have a lot of items that we import from all over the world. They’re going to look different than every other kid in that class. We bring in things from Turkey, Italy, Spain, Africa a little bit of everywhere. Most of the time people see the collection that we offer and they’re surprised at how diverse it is.
There’s always been boys clothing so what are you trying to get from these boys? What are you trying to pull from these boys through clothing? I mean I see that your background is mental health, you’ve worked with boys, you have boys. What are you trying to pull from them? What exactly do you think you’re going to pull from them with the clothing?
Well my primary goal is to show boys how special they are and to help them to see how they’re perceived by other people. One of my mottos is to change how the world sees little boys and how little boys see themselves in the world. I think that yes there are a lot of big issues facing boys nowadays and appearance is a small part of that but it’s a part that plays a huge role in their perceptions. To have on a t-shirt that says kindness is cool that’s a different tone than to have on a t-shirt with a gun on it or something like that. I’m trying to create an environment for boys to embrace the positive things about themselves. To have on a boyish outfit that embraces something positive stuff like I have shirts that say things like built for success and the next great thing. I want boys to really look for those positive things within them and make that their central focus and not the negativity.
Would it be fair to say that you’re not just dressing them for success but you’re also dressing them for an increased self-esteem?
To see themselves as who they’re being created to be?
I think there’s a lot of messaging in the clothing. It’s not just I’m dressing up for wedding or I’m dressing up for church. I’m dressing so that my self-esteem can be elevated so, that I can feel better about myself and I can prove to others and to myself. Starting with myself because it starts internal. Who I am. So, would that be fair?
That’s my goal and after having worked with boys from all kinds of backgrounds, all races, all ethnicities over the ten years we have had over 300 different boys come through our program. We found that not only boys have been through these difficult challenges that the kids we dealt with were facing but everyday kids are facing so many challenges. There’s so much negative media that they are dealing with. Kids have access to so much information now that they are in the midst of political debates and war talk. There’s all of this dialogue that a lot of them just don’t understand and a lot of them see themselves as either perpetrators or victims in scenarios that a lot of times are overwhelming to them. We just want to show them no we love you. You’re awesome. You are the foundation on which that we’re built. Yes, there has been a time over the past decades where women’s empowerment has been very central as it should be because rights were such a critical part of what we needed to get equal footing. But, I think a lot of the boys they don’t know how to play in that arena. They don’t know how to be in that sandbox when the girl gets to be the leader where she should be able to. How do I cope with that? We didn’t really teach boys yes boys are physically stronger sometimes but it’s right to let girls, not let, it’s right that girls are in charge sometimes. That doesn’t take away from your greatness as a boy. It doesn’t say that you’re less than. How do you play in the sandbox with that?
Right because you don’t want those roles to be reversed and a woman to become the strong one and the boys to become weak.
We want equal play. How do you have equality if you don’t teach the other person how to exist in that arena? We want to kind of to address that.
I have someone here who’s going to be showing a few of the items that you have. I think we should probably do this throughout because I think this is fabulous little outfits here that says find your greatness. I love it this is amazing oh my goodness. Now imagine the self-esteem on a little boy who’s wearing this. How’s he going to feel about himself versus somebody who’s wearing their pants halfway done. Look at the huge difference right here and this is the beginning of developing that success. That successful boy who thinks differently about himself from the outside in.
Even simple things like we love to break the color stereotypes. You know put a little boy in hot pink and letting him feel good about it. It doesn’t change who you are on the inside that you wore
pink. That doesn’t define your greatness. We just want to give all boys all kinds of boys the ability to be themselves and feel good about who they are.
I love your concept. I love your thoughts and your ideas but every business has a challenge. What are the challenges that boys face that your business is looking to impact?
I think the biggest area that we really focus on is helping boys to develop a positive self-image. We oftentimes get kids that come in and their parents have kind of created this model of what
they think that that boy is supposed to be. Even if it’s the old schoolboy stereotypes that he has to be tough and he has to be rugged. He has to be bland in color scheme.
It’s not fair. Can you bring some of this? This is not at all feminine. This is very masculine and very sleek. Look how amazing this is. I love it.
We have this starting in a size 2.
Then you have some baby stuff?
Yes. We also still have some of the traditional casual things. We’re not forcing every little boy into a suit every day. We understand that comfort is key but you got to be stylish with it. I love that some of our brands are very boy centric so this brand is Boys Rock. We want to give boys the option that girls have. They have Justice and Claire’s and all of these brands that market specifically to them. We just want boys to know that they’re not left out.
I just think it’s awesome. What do you think, for boys, is their greatest challenge? In self-esteem because we’re bringing in that mental health part. How do you think they feel when they don’t have the ability to Dress for Success or what is it fake it till you make it? They don’t really have that opportunity because in the stores they just don’t have a lot of that for them.
I think the biggest challenge well one of the challenges that boys have especially when it comes to choosing how they’re going to dress is that there’s a lot of pressure on boys to conform to norms that are set by society. I think that those norms are a detriment to them today. That they don’t have the opportunity to really develop the best of who they are for today’s society. Old values of aggressiveness for example that doesn’t play very well in the corporate arena anymore. When you have women’s CEOs who are bringing in all of this cooperative spirit and there’s all this new development so you constantly have to be in a learning phase. The idea that these old-school macho leaders I know everything mentalities that a lot of society and a lot of older values dictate how boys are supposed to be doesn’t really play well. We want to say okay you don’t have to be any of those things there is no boys will be boys. It’s you can be you and whatever that is. If it’s aggressive and you’re just the king of the hill okay but this is how you play.
They’re doing it in a positive manner not a negative. So, being aggressive or maybe not being aggressive maybe being assertive without being aggressive. I think honestly, I really believe that it all starts with how you dress, how you feel about yourself, so, the outside is an indication or at least it begins to make that change. When you begin to start thinking differently about yourself.
Oh, yeah because you can be strong without being aggressive. You can be a leader without being a bully.
Exactly. So, here’s the next question how are you innovative?
Well we are looking at all types of innovation. We’re looking at changes in the fabrics that we use. We’re looking at sourcing and all over the world. We are having our manufacturing done in countries that are known for manufacturing. We have apps that our clients can use to get points to build up to get free stuff. We’re trying to bring in elements of all types of different things like new textiles, using technology in new ways, and we’re looking for ideas all the time. We know that we’re in an arena that has been here a long time. Brick-and-mortar stores but, we offer online shopping. We’re integrating our social media with our platforms so that customers can be more responsive with us.
Who is this for? Who is Rivet for? We know boys but what boys?
Rivet it’s really for my own boys. I mean I have four kids. I have two girls and two boys. My girls had all these experiences with shopping that my boys didn’t have. I want my boys to feel special and so this is for them. This is where the kids that need a place where they can go and feel special.
It doesn’t matter race or color?
This is for any boy or any parent that wants to give their child or their boy that experience of success?
Yes. This is for the parent that cares about their child feeling good. We have kids of all colors, all heights, sizes, and shapes that come in here and they’re excited about putting on nice clothes. That’s what we do it for. We have the extra skinny kid that’s tall and lanky and never feels good in a pair of pants and walks out of here feeling good. Then we have the husky kid that puts on a suit and for the first time he’s standing with his back straight and he’s not slumped over and pull him on an elastic waistband because he feels good in his clothes.
Where do you see the future of Rivet? What direction do you think you’re going?
I would love for us to expand our manufacturing to more of a global presence. I think that our brand is becoming more known. I think that we want more people to just understand why we do what we do and to buy in with us. We hope to continue to create new especially apps that boys will use that will integrate some of their hopes, dreams, successes, positive things and give them a way to promote the great things that they’re doing. We have some things that we hope to be able to develop that will do that. I would love to one day be in a video game that boys can come in the Rivet store and change their clothes in their video that night and then continue to play.
Where I see that your business has really been innovative and creative is that you’ve taken a lot of different components and brought them together. You’ve taken your mental health background, you’ve taken your teaching background, you’ve taken all this and you kind of incorporated it into developing boys. You’re not just selling clothing you’re developing personalities. You’re developing boys and teaching boys through clothing how to feel better about themselves and to be able to become who they see in that mirror. That’s why I was so bought when I saw your store. What you do, how you do it, and it’s been amazing. I want to thank you for this interview and I look forward to doing several things together with you because I think this is a great collaboration.
Alright so guys this ends this segment and I look forward to seeing you next week with yet another interview so we look forward to talking to you.
#Interview with Monique Knight- “The Evolution of Successful Men From The Outside In”
#RivetBoys #Monique Knight owner of Rivet Boys Clothing & Accessories #Rivet Boys Clothing & Accessories