Interviews

Published on December 22nd, 2019 | by Percy Crawford

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Patrick Young Of “Sharp Men,” Non-Profit: Suiting New Orleans Men For Success

With upstart funds from Kevin Hart, Patrick Young starts, “Sharp Men” non-profit organization in New Orleans.

After serving nearly 14-years in prison, Patrick Young made the conscious decision to not only turn his life around, but influence the culture around him and his city, New Orleans, Louisiana. “Sharp Men,” is a non-profit organization designed to help men in need of a suit or business attire specifically for job interviews. The importance of looking professional could be the difference in being hired and not being hired. Whether you are at risk youth, recently released from incarceration or simply have fallen on hard times, “Sharp Men,” is able to help and get you sharp, so that you could get back into the workforce. Every job begins with the interviewing process, and unfortunately statistics show that for some men, employment has been hard to obtain in the south. In some cases, the potential employee doesn’t show for the interview simply because they don’t have the proper job interview attire. “Sharp Men” is here to change that

“Sharp Men,” CEO tells us about the importance of looking sharp during the job interview process through the company’s motto, “Look sharp, think sharp, stay sharp.

 How are you?

Patrick Young: I’m good. Just trying to stay busy. Everything is good though. I can’t complain.

Talk to us about, Sharp Men and what made you embark on this non-profit organization, which helps men, get a job interview appropriate suit?

Patrick Young: I was working to help people get jobs. One of the things I found was that, when it was time for the interview, they have, “Dress For Success,” for women, but they didn’t have anything for men. I would tell people, “You should start an organization that helps men get clothed for job interviews.” And I started looking around, and there was no one that provided these services; not only in New Orleans, but in the south period. My wife works for, Kevin Hart, and one day I was talking to him about it and he just gave me some money and told me to go get it started. So, it’s been on ever since then.

The job interview process is stressful enough and can be intimidating as well. It changes the mindset and attitude to walk in there confident because you look to par.

Patrick Young: I know numerous situations where people didn’t even show up for job interviews because they didn’t have the proper attire. But it’s not just that. There was a report that was recently released that stated how the economy is doing well. Jobs are there, but there are more men out of work now then there was 20-years ago. Men aren’t getting those jobs. They are finding that 65% of a job interview is decided by attire. When we start to get into the points around it, women are winning, and men have stopped competing and stopped looking for the jobs. They just don’t show up because they feel out of place when it’s time to go for an interview because they just don’t have that assistance. If we look at what happened during the 80’s and look at how incarceration affected the young man, but now those kids are grown, and if their dads’ were incarcerated… there is a big generation gap of no one teaching you how to tie a tie, how to put on a shirt or simply look good for an interview. And if those grandfathers aren’t there, there is a missing piece where young men aren’t getting that hands-on training on how to look professional, dress professional and show up for the expectation of the job.

Young people… anybody really, must understand the importance of appearance when you’re showing up to interview for a job.

Patrick Young: It’s really three levels, look sharp, think sharp, stay sharp. The look is just the personal branding. Teaching them how to dress, but like you said, that’s how you brand yourself. The proper attire is important. When Apple releases a product, they don’t just put it into any packaging. They brand it a certain way. So, that’s the look sharp. Now how does it operate? Once you get through the interview and you get the job, what’s the next thing, how do I get promoted, get on boards and into certain communities? Now you’re thinking strategically on how to improve. So, that’s the think sharp. And then the stay sharp is health and wellness. That’s dealing with men’s health and financial wellness. Are you taking care of yourself physically, and are you taking care of yourself financially? Because many times we don’t have that literacy of, now I got my check, what am I doing with it? You shouldn’t be blowing it; you should be investing it.

Obviously, Sharp Men is a non-profit. How do you obtain these threads to dress these men in need?

Patrick Young: So, right now, it’s really just word-a-mouth. Partnering with different organizations. To date, my biggest partnership is with Macy’s. Being able to get 80 to 90% off of a suit; The Greater New Orleans Hotel & Lodging Association, all the hotels coming in and donating suits. Different organizations who are just digging in and realizing this is a great thing. Once those suits get in, I can show you the immediate turnaround. There is such a demand. I didn’t expect… I knew there was a need, but it was bigger than I even anticipated. Like AARP, I didn’t anticipate AARP needing suits, but then again, if you have older gentlemen who are getting back in the workforce, they are going to need suits. Veteran’s, I thought the VA would take care of that, but the VA doesn’t provide attire. Giving to the homeless shelters. Another thing I just did was, I gave suits to all of the youth and the Youth Juvenile Justice Center. I bought a suit for every young man at the Youth Study Center. Again, because when they are released… when you’re arrested as a juvenile, you go home in the same clothes that you came in with. So, I bought a suit for every last one of them, so that when they are released, they go home in suit because we want to change your thinking. If I can change how you look, I can probably change your outlook.

That’s awesome. Especially for someone who has been incarcerated because you must present them in a way that someone would deem as hire-able.

Patrick Young: So, the best way I can design it, if you give someone an outfit for the streets, they can do well in the streets. If you give someone an outfit that’s suited for success, they can go be successful. It’s found even in sports. Those guys show up to play sports however they want to dress, but they have to put on a uniform to compete and play. If you want to be in business and be a professional, you have to show up and put your uniform on to compete and play. If a suit, shirt and tie is what you need to compete and play, then that’s what you need to put on. So, many times it’s really not explained why it’s needed. Sometimes people just say, “Just put on a shirt and tie.” People don’t really understand that you’re in competition and this is the uniform of the professional. When you put it in context like that, it kind of gives a better understanding. It’s like when you go to prison, they give you a uniform to be an inmate. One you start changing the context and understanding, people will adapt real well. Like Deion Sanders used to say, “If you look good, you feel good, if you feel good, you play good, if you play good, they pay good.” That is a true statement. I did 13-years and 9-months, and it was enough time for me to really see what I wanted to do and what I wanted to become. I just wanted to be different as far as not being the expectation but being the exception.

That’s a long time, brother. It’s a pleasure speaking to you on these terms knowing how far you have come.

Patrick Young: Thank you. So, my daytime is I work for, New Orleans Business Alliance. We have four centers I manager in the city of New Orleans; Urban League, TCA, Job One and Goodwill. Last year we got 890 people employed.

What is the process to someone in need of a suit obtaining one from you guys?

Patrick Young: The best way now is to contact us through the website. We will set up an appointment. Right now, we’re talking to the city council. Shout out to, Jason Williams who has been super supporter; him and Jared Brossett. And even the mayor, Mayor Cantrell has been helpful too. We’re trying to find a building to where we can house it. This is new. We are less than a year in, and we are just looking for the right location. Until then we just move by appointments only.

This is an amazing organization and props to you for doing this for young men all over the city. Is there anything else you want to add?

Patrick Young: Just to follow up, man, when we launched, we did this even, “Sharpest In New Orleans,” to highlight community leaders who are doing things according to our motto; look sharp, think sharp, stay sharp. We launched the first ever, “Bourbon and Bowtie Brunch,” for men. So, it was a brunch held by the Windsor Court. From that brunch, we were able to buy the suits for the youth. We are looking forward to doing a, “Wine and Wingtips,” where we teach men about wine. We just really want men to really get back engaged as far as not only supporting one another but looking at how we could excel together without as many meetings. We shouldn’t have to keep meeting and meeting and meeting. We should be able to come together collectively and make immediate impact. I appreciate all of the support that I have been getting so far. I’m excited about getting men back working together for a common cause and good within the community.

Be sure to check out the site at: www.sharpmen.org.

 


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