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I've had a lot of time to think about the person I used to be. I was wrongly called a fugitive by one sports writer and a scammer by another. An ex-business partner, who still "hunts" me and mocks my suicide, has rejected every attempt at amends—even a $1.512M offer—out of pure hatred for my survival, despite me repaying him $195,000.00 from a failed $440,000.00 joint venture 15 years ago. Initially, I was convinced that these men were monsters, and perhaps they are; but perspective has shown me that I must have been a monster too. Because if I had always been good and honest, they would never have had a reason to hold my feet to the fire.

And though many of the mistakes of my 20s have been sensationalized, I did make poor choices as an entrepreneur, leading to homelessness twice. The embarrassment and harassment I faced at rock bottom was often unbearable, making the fight to reclaim my life seem impossible; so I turned into suicide.

Having survived my attempt, anger was my only friend, until I was able to embrace forgiveness. Soon after, I found a little of myself again, secured a good job, and became a trusted ally throughout Chicago. I made new friends and grew stronger both physically and mentally while taking full accountability for my past. It wasn’t easy, but I reached out to every investor from my failed tech company a decade past, seeking forgiveness for the mess I made; repaying many of them, as well as diligently working to make things right with the rest. Only two have chosen not to forgive me.

After questioning whether I’d ever be great at anything again, I discovered a new passion and moved to Des Moines, Iowa. Despite my intention to fade into the background, the community welcomed me openly, regardless of all my flaws. This acceptance has inspired me, and it is why I returned to fashion. My brand exists because of the kindness of others, dumb luck, and a talent I once threw away.  Now, my past mistakes guide me in what not to do, and my successes are validation that I can achieve almost anything. With these experiences, I now see the man I can become and am eager for the world to meet him. 

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