We got to sit down with “Boys On The Superior Side” Entrepreneur Miles J. Davis!
Miles J. Davis is a young black entrepreneur from Baltimore County, Maryland. He currently attends Lehigh University for his Master’s Degree concentrating on Sustainable Development. Davis has started two companies, both have served to enlighten and expand the mind while selling streetwear and natural skin care products!
Tribe Culture Media: So tell us about your companies and how did you come up with the names?
Miles: So my first company is called “Boys On The Superior Side”. My business partner and I started this idea in 2011. Growing up, we were into streetwear like Stüssy, Diamond Supply, The Hundreds, etc. We thought we might as well start making our own stuff. We were very ambitious kids. When we got older, we started learning about ourselves and the world. Through our growth, we began to understand that it’s not about making clothes better than anyone else or being superior to others, it’s about being superior to ourselves and who we used to be — having a superior mindset. A lot of our branding is based on blackness and the universe. We blend those things together and for what it means to be black and how does this relationship work within the universe? “Boys On The Superior Side” to me means to really know my Self, and to understand that keeping a superior mindset allows me to create and inspire. A lot of our clothing designs can be a bit esoteric/existential, but the main concept we want our customers and supporters to understand is to really see their superior selves.
Tribe Culture Media: Wow, so was there a specific event that made you want to inspire others?
Miles: Well, I think I was always inspired by my family members, especially my mom. She was so influential to me the way she gave back to others and was so caring for the development of the younger generation. She instilled that “role model” characteristic in me, and I carried that throughout my life growing up. Later in life, a specific time was when I became a member of my fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated. We are about service and love for all mankind, and the lessons I learned through that experience really inspired me to contribute to society as best as I could. As Boys On The Superior Side, I wanted to make sure some of these lessons were intertwined with our outlook as entrepreneurs. We were working as summer camp counselors at my mom’s children’s edutainment center in Baltimore County called, Sweet Potato Kids, and we would mentor the kids there. We wanted to break down knowledge for them and rebuild their knowledge for their betterment. We wanted to teach them about their history, about themselves, and inspire them to positively impact the world.
Tribe Culture Media: Would you say it’s important for us to teach our youth about black entrepreneurship?
Miles: It’s extremely important for the newer generations to learn about entrepreneurship and to become entrepreneurs. My family has always taught me the importance of entrepreneurship, and I see those effects bearing fruit. I think nowadays there are so many black people labeling themselves as creatives or creators, and using that for their entrepreneurship, and I think that’s a beautiful thing because through slavery when our land, our language, our culture have been taken away from us, all we have left is to create. So we create opportunities for ourselves through our creativity and have a need to own our creativity and opportunities to serve a greater purpose. I think black people are innately creative and entrepreneurs, and I think the youth need to know that.
Tribe Culture Media: And have you noticed an increase of black entrepreneurs?
Miles: I do notice now that there are more black entrepreneurs, and I think that’s an effect of social media. Social Media has shown us how creative we are as black people. People are taking the time to learn more about themselves and what they can provide for themselves and their families. People really have so much that they’re capable of doing and I think entrepreneurship brings that side out of them.
Tribe Culture Media: In terms of business and social media, do you think it helps or hinders entrepreneurship?
Miles: I think it helps. It sometimes can be saturated with the same content, which can be overwhelming and can deter you from doing your work. But it’s important to use what you consume wisely and for a step in a positive direction. That overwhelming sense can come if you just consume and don’t produce. I think there needs to be a balance. I think you need to be a conscious consumer and use what you consume to inspire you to produce.
Tribe Culture Media: Is college something that is essential for the modern-day entrepreneur?
Miles: For me, college has been extremely useful for building a great network to market my brand, have pop-up shops on campus, be published in articles and establish long-lasting connections. Plus, my university has invested in my ideas. However, I wouldn’t necessarily say its essential for everybody. Some of the skills come naturally. Whenever I go to Ghana, I see people on the street selling their goods, whatever they have, or have shops on the side of the road. That’s entrepreneurship! Black people kind of do alchemy in a way, and turn nothing into something.
Tribe Culture Media: What’s some advice you have for people who want to become entrepreneurs?
Miles: If you want to be an entrepreneur you just have to do it! Whatever idea you have, do what you can to materialize it. A dream without action is just a dream. I think once you begin with your idea, you won’t want to stop, you’ll just want to keep going to keep growing and expanding your brand.
Tribe Culture Media: Has there been any time you’ve met adversity in business?
Miles: I have definitely met adversity in business. Being challenged is a part of business, and it’s all about how you deal with those challenges. You can either give up and quit, or stay strong and continue upon the journey. I think some adversity we face has to do with the saturation of the market we have entered. Fashion is very competitive, and it’s always like, what differentiates your brand than the next one? So with that, it comes down to marketing and getting our points across. I think for us, we have to find our niche market because mass marketing doesn’t work for us — we’ve tried that. Our designs speak for themselves, but who pays attention to those designs and who are those designs made for? That’s the challenge and adversity we face. How do we meet that target audience so we can get over and get through this adversity?
Tribe Culture Media: What is your second business?
Miles: My second business is called Superior Shea, sticking with the superior branding. I was doing research on shea butter processing for my Master’s thesis, and I received a research grant to go and study the production of shea butter in Ghana. I learned about the tiring process the women go through to make it and how little they are compensated for their work. So when I left Ghana, I wanted to bring the shea butter that I made back with me to the States to try to see if I could find a market for it. I packaged some samples and within the first weekend I sold out! From that I was like, I have to make a business out of this. So we scaled up production and now we’re selling Superior Shea!
This past winter I went back to Ghana, and my business partner and I registered and started this cooperative with the women who make shea butter in the Upper West region called Sissala Shea Cooperative. The idea of the cooperative is to have a more collective impact that would benefit the whole community of women involved. What Superior Shea does is reinvest 50% of our profit back to the Sissala Shea Cooperative, and have these profits go toward getting machines to make their process more efficient and less laborious, and to get a borehole to bring clean water access directly into their village. Moreover, in the future we want these profits to also go towards paying for health services for the women, and school materials for their children. In the offseason when they aren’t making shea butter, we want to be able to plow an acre of land for their farms.
Tribe Culture Media: That’s so awesome, that is truly great! How many times have you been to Africa?
Miles: I’ve been to Africa five times. This is my fourth trip to Ghana. Each time I go it is a different experience. I usually go through grants awarded to me by my school to work on projects or to do research.
Tribe Culture Media: Okay cool. last question. Can you talk about some of the spiritual experiences you’ve had in Africa, being in the motherland?
Miles: Most definitely. There are a lot of times when I feel truly connected to the Earth and to the ancestors when I’m there, revitalizing my higher self and my spirit. One time I remember, we were outside all day. I was outside eating fresh fruit while earthing and physically rooting myself in the ground, and soaking up the African sun. I was reading a book, Light from Ancient Africa, by Brother Dr. Na’im Akbar, that awakened my consciousness and provided that Afrocentric lens and perspective. There was this Rastafarian guy there, and he would talk about our past as Africans — that we come from Queens and Kings and stuff like that. That was a really special time for me because most of the time I am in Ghana I am working a lot, you know, I’m always moving. I don’t get time to be still for that long and just listen, and feel, and be… There was another time when I was working on the Shea Butter Cooperative and we were going out to the bush to see the shea trees. Then it hit me. I was on the back of a motorbike riding through the African savannah feeling free. The sky was clear, the sun was shining, the curls in my hair were blowing in the wind, and I was safe — even though there was a chance of being bitten by snakes or stung by scorpions. It was peaceful, and I knew God was there, so I was extremely thankful for that.
Tribe Culture Media: That’s truly a great story!
Miles: Word up, thanks, dude!
Tribe Culture Media: So where can people find your clothing shop and Shea Butter products?
Miles: You can find all of our products at www.bmoresuperior.com
You can find me on Instagram @IG:Flyerrrmilesj
Tribe Culture Media: Miles it was awesome to have you on Tribe Culture, please come again, you are always welcomed!
Miles: Most definitely I had so much fun. Thank you!