Authors: Caleb Alexander
A NOVEL BY
Copyright 2012 - Caleb Alexander
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First and foremost, I want to thank the Almighty Creator. It would take a lifetime to list all of the blessings that have been bestowed upon me. I know that during the darkest times in my life, it was He Who carried me.
To my loving wife, Jennifer; my wonderful daughter, Cheyenne; and my awesome sons, Curtis and Caleb.
To my mother, Gwen; my father, Charles; my sisters, Denise, Staci, Erin, Syidah; and my brother, Theron.
And a very special acknowledgment to my grandmother, Lillie.
I would also like to acknowledge Deborah and Deshawn for a smoking hot cover. And I would also like to give a shout out to all of the wonderful friends and family members who have blessed my life throughout the years. You know who you are. I owe so much to so many, that it would be impossible to to list all of you. So, I will simply say thank you.
This book is dedicated to Black Love. There is no force on Earth more magical, more nourishing, more sustaining, more fulfilling, than Black Love. It was that love that sustained us through some of the darkest times in human history.
This book is also dedicated to the sisters who make that love so special, so enriching, so worthwhile, so magical. It is the love of a good Black woman that makes her man feel as though he can conquer the world. Thank you sisters, for being our sustainers, our healers, our partners, our inspiration, our motivation, our lovers.
Wolves. No, they acted more like Hyenas. Ravenous Hyenas, eyeballing a wounded gazelle, she thought. Their eyes rolled up and down her body with a lust-fulness that would have made a prostitute blush. She had become used to male executives checking out her goods, but nothing like this. Six men arrayed around a conference table, ogling her body, undressing her with their eyes, and licking their lips was too much even for her.
Kimberly Neel was a professional. A graduate of Princeton, she had been an advertising executive for the past four years, and was quite good at what she did. She had dealt with all the knuckleheads in that male dominated industry, including pulling a three year tour of duty on Madison Avenue for one of the largest advertising firms in the country. She left Madison Avenue when the opportunity arose to join Mocha. Mocha was the largest African American woman's magazine in the world. Six million subscribers, and a world wide circulation of over ten million. In the world of fashion, cosmetics, and entertainment, Mocha was a veritable powerhouse. And now, here she stood, trying to get a bunch of men to buy ad space. Men who hadn’t heard a single word she said since her presentation started.
“And so you see, gentlemen,” Kimberly continued. “Mocha has had similar success in the past. We have increased the exposure of companies similar to yours by two hundred percent, which in turn, resulted in a revenue increase of roughly thirty percent for those businesses. Advertising in Mocha, has been a winning proposition for all of our clients.”
Ken, the vice president of marketing for the company, lifted his ball point pen into the air and posed a question. “I’m really not sure how this will benefit us.”
If you had been listening, instead of staring at my breast you would have understood, Kimberly thought. She smiled politely at the V.P., and then drew in a deep breath.
“Your company has a children’s clothing line also.” Kimberly explained. “Well, who do you think makes those purchases? It’s the women, the mothers, the aunts, the god mothers, the sisters, who all read our magazine. Same thing goes for your male clothing line. A lot of times, it’s the wives, the girlfriends, or the mothers shopping for their high school age children who are purchasing your products. Our magazine can help you reach those potential buyers.”
“I’m impressed,” said Mark, closing his marketing folder. He was the president of the company, and his word carried the most weight. “My only problem, is that Mocha is so expensive. Twenty five thousand dollars is more than we traditionally spend for a one page add in a single issue. We get better rates from Source, Vibe, even XXL. All of them charge less, and they market directly to our consumers. We are an urban clothing line after all.”
He had her reeling. He was right. Mocha was more expensive than all of the others. And, those others did showcase his wares directly to his target market. She had to think fast.
“Mark, what you say is absolutely true, Mocha
more expensive than the others. But that’s because you pay for what you get. Mocha is read by consumers who actually go out and buy things. It’s not read by teeny boppers more interested in rap articles and bling-bling dreams. Mocha is going to market your clothing to a different, more upscale clientele. It’s going to expand your market. You already have the teeny bopper market. They’re going to wear your clothing, because this or that rapper wears it. But to move into the minds of the suburban mothers who buy clothing, is something completely different. Let’s keep it real here. Kids can’t afford your sixty or seventy dollars jeans, but their parents can. Let’s put your brand in the minds of those parents.”
Mark nodded and rose from the conference table. “Kim, we thank you for coming. Naturally, we’ll have to discuss this before we make any type of commitment. But you can rest assured, you have my vote.”
Kimberly extended her hand, and Mark shook it.
“Thank you so much for your time,” Kimberly told him. “Thank you all. I believe that you’ll be very happy with the results that your ad dollars will generate at Mocha, and I very much look forward to working with you in the future.”
“I look forward to working with you,” Ken told her, lifting an eyebrow suggestively.
He made her head spin. Every time she looked at him, he reminded her of Brother man from Martin. Sure, he was Brother man in a Sean Jean suit, but he was a nuisance nonetheless.
Kimberly collected her belongings, and placed them in her Mont Blanc briefcase, as the company executives filtered out of the room. One of them lingered behind.
“Hey,” Nelson called out to her. “Nelson Robins, Vice President in charge of purchasing and acquisitions.”
Kimberly shook his hand. “Pleased to meet you.”
“I was thinking,” Nelson continued. “How about discussing your proposal over a nice quiet dinner?”
“I’ve already discussed the proposal,” Kim told him. “You were listening, right?”
Nelson shrugged. “We can go to dinner, and discuss my support for your ad proposal.”
“And if we don’t go to dinner, I’m sure that I’ll have your support anyway, right?” Kimberly asked, lifting an inquisitive eyebrow.
Nelson shrugged. “I wouldn’t bet the house on it.”
“That’s what I thought.” Kimberly lifted her briefcase and turned toward the door. “Nelson, as far as your chances go, for taking me out to dinner…”
“I wouldn’t bet the house on it.” She turned, and exited the room.
Old Palm Gold Club was one of the most expensive, most luxurious, and most exclusive golf clubs in the country. The club was home to an exclusive Raymond Floyd Signature Design 18-hole championship golf course, while the clubhouse itself was reminiscent of Palm Beach’s “Golden Age.” The old world Mediterranean architecture bespoke of an elegance and distinction that was timeless. Luscious travertine and marble floors, hand-fired clay tile roof, massive stone arches and fireplaces, and hand-forged wrought iron chandeliers could be found throughout the establishment.
It was on the ninth hole where Sterling Williams, owner of men’s fashion powerhouse, Vespasian, was golfing and meeting with his best friend and legal counsel, Wilson Wealth.
“I still say, we should launch our women’s casual and formal wear lines within the next twelve months,” Wilson suggested.
Sterling swung his three iron at tiny Titlist ball, missing it by a couple of inches. “Shit!”
“You did that on purpose,” Sterling said with a smile.
“I didn’t tell you to swing,” Wilson protested. “Anyway, would you just put the club down and listen to me.”
“What’s the rush?” Sterling asked.
“Have you seen the numbers?” Wilson asked. “The numbers for women’s fashion are way up, and continuing to rise. While our existing sales, are climbing only slightly. Right now, we are in the beginning stages of growing stagnant. We are going to be known as maker of expensive suits, for stuffy old businessmen. While Sean Jean, Calvin Klein, D&G, Armani, Ralph Lauren, Prada, Versace, Brioni, and Kiton, are going to control the young, hip part of the men’s fashion industry.”
“And what does this have to do with launching a women’s clothing line?” Sterling asked with a smile.
“Right now, we only make women’s dress shoes, handbags, purses, and business suits,” Wilson explained. “We need to become a full fledged fashion house, attracting both sexes, and generating some heat across our entire lineup. For Pete’s sake, Sterling, on our men’s side, we only make business suits, polo shirts, and black tie attire. We don’t even have our own line of dress shirts, socks, or ties! We need to expand our men’s side, and launch a full fledged women’s line.”
“And you want to get this up and running within a year?” Sterling asked. “We don’t have any designers on board, we don’t even have anyone in mind to help put this thing together and run it. Do you know how long it will take just to get a staff together, to run a women’s fashion house? That alone will take six months to a year. And then to get the designs picked, finalized, and to the manufacturers?”
“Sterling it’s simple,” Wilson said, exhaling. “We either expand, or the company dies. We need the young hip market, and we need to capture the women’s market. It has to be the next big thing to rock a Vespasian purse, or some Vespasian knee high leather boots. Imagine Mary J. Blige walking on stage to pick up an award, while rocking a pair of thigh high Vespasian leather boots and a Vespasian form fitting sweater dress, or a matching Vespasian leather dress. Imagine millions of young teen age girls running to Saks, or Neiman Marcus, or Macy’s to pick up the latest Vespasian purse with colorful ducks or crayons, or colorful V’s on it.”
“When I invited you down to Palm Beach, it was to golf, and go fishing with me on my yacht,” Sterling said with a smile. “Not to spend the entire weekend talking business.”
“Can’t help it.” Wilson shrugged.
Sterling shoved his golf club into his custom crocodile skin golf bag. “When I get back to the house, I’m going to relax by my swimming pool, have the masseuse give me a relaxing massage, and fall asleep until my plane leaves for New York. During that time, I don’t want to hear another word about business.”
“In that case, I better get it all in right now,” Wilson told him. “I had Natalie pick up the new Vespasian leather handbag from the manufacturer’s office before I left.”
Wilson went into his golf bag, and pulled out a brown leather handbag with gold V’s printed on it. He handed it to Sterling, and then pulled out a second handbag. This one was white, with green, red, yellow, orange, and blue V’s printed all over it.”
Sterling examined both bags and nodded. “I like. The only problem is, the mutli-color bags are out of season.”
“Yeah, but not these,” Wilson said with a smile. He flipped the multi-color handbag inside out, revealing the fact that it was reversible. The outside of the bag was now lavender, with glow-in-the-dark multi-color V’s printed all over it. “We are going to own the teen age and young adult market with this bag.”
Sterling threw his head back in laughter. “I knew there was a reason why I pay you so much money.”
“Sterling, this is just the beginning.” Wilson told him. “Go along with me on expanding our men’s line, and on developing a full fledged women’s line, and we are going to dominate the market.”