Since graduating from John Jay, alumnus Aki Ashe has become a successful business owner through his fashion company Brooklyn United Ties. We sat down with Ashe to learn more about his journey and the pivotal lessons he learned along the way.
“When you’re a minority, perception is more important. You have to wear the appropriate clothes, so you’re not judged negatively.” —Advice from Aki Ashe’s Mother
Ashe attended John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where he majored in Public Administration and minored in Economics. “My education at John Jay helped me learn to be more disciplined. I had to get to my classes, do my homework and acquire enough credits to graduate,” says Ashe. After graduating from John Jay, Ashe attended Manhattan’s Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) and took courses in: fashion design, importation, exportation, manufacturing, and international business.
After FIT, Ashe became hyper aware of his clothing choices and personal style. That’s why he sprung into action when he opened his tie drawer one morning and noticed that every tie was either overused, wrinkly or falling apart. He went to a retired seamstress and asked her if she could make him some ties. She agreed and Ashe picked the fabric and suggested his own design. When he wore his custom-made ties around family, friends and colleagues, Ashe received so many compliments that he decided to start his own business.
“I see the mistakes that new grads make, dressing too casual for an interview. I want to teach them how to make a strong, impressive first impression.”—Aki Ashe
Ashe’s company Brooklyn United Ties customizes scarves and ties, and holds “Dress For Success Workshops” to help students look more polished and professional. “A tie is a symbol that captures a story, making it an experience within itself, like wearing a work of art or a piece of history,” says Ashe. The company also teaches college students how to write resumes and find appropriate hairstyles for interviews and work. “I see the mistakes that new grads make, dressing too casual for an interview. I want to teach them how to make a strong, impressive first impression.” Ashe aims to do a “Dress For Success” workshop at least once a month for college students.