BrownMill Company the lifestyle brand centered on positivity, sustainability, and community
Divinely cut… master tailored… essential to any wardrobe… luxurious… are just a few things that went through my mind when scrolling through BrownMill’s website and Instagram. Since becoming established in 2009 by Justis Pitt-Goodson, BrownMill has since exploded on the NJ/NY fashion scene.
BrownMill named in honor of the legacy of Justis’ grandparents, John “Brown” Pitt and “Mil”dred. It is a lifestyle brand that creates high quality clothing and accessories while bridging the gap between streetwear and high fashion. The brand’s mission is to reduce waste and inspire the world.
BrownMill seeks to accomplish their mission by creating One-of-One tailored pieces that are crafted to perfection. They incorporate salvaged material into their designs to generate entirely new pieces. This provides their customers with the opportunity to have a product that is unique.
Brownmill also partakes in "Urban Upcycling.” Brownmill is heavily in favor of sustainability and to ensure that sustainability remains the pillar of their business practices, BrownMill extracts upcycled materials and uses them to make their new garments. For every fourth item that is purchased, an item is donated to those in need in the community.
I had the opportunity to sit down with New Jersey native Justis Pitt-Goodson to discuss his fashion brand BrownMill Company, his journey as an entreprenuer, and much more!
What inspired your passion?
I was born with a hustler’s mentality, from selling candy as a kid to cutting hair in college… I always created opportunities for myself. As for fashion my passion derives from my entrepreneurial spirit, my personal style, and will to become the best at what I do. Once I had a sense of style, I realized I didn’t want to be or dress like anyone else. I started creating from there.
When did you realize your product could become a business?
I started BrownMill in my living room with a sketchbook and my sewing machine. The first products were accessories… ties and bow ties. I had one friend ask me for one, then another. Eventually, I had had lots of people reaching out to purchase the products. After making a large amount of sales, I bet on myself and began the brand. BrownMill started from ties and bow ties and now the brand offers handmade collared shirts, jackets, shorts and much more!
Describe your day as a business owner.
I wake up really early, usually around 5 am to workout. I have a 2 month old son so my days are tailored around being flexible for him and my family. When I’m not spending time with my family, I’m working on the brand from my office. I spend countless hours studying fashion (what’s new? what’s in style?), creating campaigns, and marketing (what’s the brand goals? are they being met? how can we be more effective?). After the business realm of the brand is settled, I focus my attention more on the creation of product, sketching and designing. After work, I head home to spend the remaining hours of the day with my family.
How important is finding the right team?
Finding the right team is very important. It’s important to find a team that compliments your brand. I was lucky to find a team that allowed me to grow and expand BrownMill. I definitely could not do everything alone, Taha Shimou is the brands graphic designer and Kwaku Agyemang handles finance and sales. For all the self-starters out there, I advise you locate your weak points in business and look for the right talent to help you achieve your business goals.
What challenges have you come across that you didn’t expect?
BrownMill has been a learning experience. With every brand there comes triumphs and the occasional low points. If I had to chose one challenge that I didn’t expect it would definitely be the work that goes into a product release. Most people think creating the product is difficult, when in reality creating the campaign of how to release the product is most difficult. You have to pinpoint an audience, create a price point, then create a marketing plan. It’s a lot of work and forced me to become a stronger businessman and marketer.
What does your clothing have in common with the urban community?
BrownMill is influenced by everything great that is associated with the word urban… community, inspiration, and lifestyle. Community is the pillar of our success, so we honor the community by giving back. Every fourth item we sell, we donate an item to a person in need in our community. We also throw community basketball games. During our very first community basketball game, was our most punctual and enthusiastic supporter, Ryan Garey. Ryan was a close friend to BrownMill and a beloved member of the community. After his passing, we at Brownmill vowed to continue his infectious and positive legacy by keeping the community games going! Despite all of the negativity and turmoil happening in our personal lives and in our environment, only happiness, progressiveness, and unity are present during our games.
What do you think of the Makerhoods mission?
Makerhoods is what the city and many entrepreneurs have longed for! Community, shared ideas, affordable commercial space and inspiration are things I can stand for. When the Makerhoods application becomes available I’m signing up immediately.
What are your business goals for 2019?
I definitely want to end 2019 on a high note. I want to do at least 3 more pop-up events, at least 1 in Newark. I want to continue to build the brand by continuing to establish BrownMill’s target audience. I want to also grow our grassroots support, make more revenue and continue to learn business.
What would you tell your younger self?
Always keep learning. Put yourself in a growing environment. Stay patient!
Anthony Smith, Community Outreach Coordinator
After graduating college and returning back to my hometown of Newark, NJ I became a member of the Newark Makerhoods team. This transformative experience put me in touch with many local entrepreneurs who are all in different business stages, ranging from established to upstart. Newark is a thriving city for talented creators. I'm here to share their stories and launch their business to the everyday public’s eye.