Growing up multiracial many years ago wasn’t viewed as a good or positive thing in some circles because a person had, in theory, two identities that defined them.
But one New York City woman refused to allow other people’s perceptions to stifle her growth or take away from who she is. Hoop88Dream‘s Shara McHayle has knocked down every obstacle she faced as a multiracial woman operating in a male-dominated industry.
And she did it at a time when people of color weren’t respected or their voices weren’t heard. However, McHayle managed to still thrive and become successful as an entrepreneur.
BLACK ENTERPRISE got the chance to speak to McHayle about how she broke into fashion, how the influence of both cultures she inherited helped shape her entrepreneurial spirit and what she is doing currently to keep that going.
Getting involved in fashion at an early age, how has your experience back then helped shape, not only your fashion taste, but your business acumen, and what keeps you going in terms of business?
For me as it comes to business acumen, I have taken every success and failure, both my own and others and extrapolated the lessons. I work daily to apply them to my current structure and approach. It’s a privilege to have been able to start in this business at an early age. The foundation of my fashion taste was established before I got into the business of fashion. I took who I am into fashion.
You were influential in one of the earliest fashion brands associated with hip-hop, PNB Nation. How did you become involved and how were you able to penetrate through a male-dominated field at that time?
I was moved by a T-shirt produced by PNB in 1991. The style name was ” three names” or rather “hello my name is.” It was a T-shirt graphic that listed Phillip Pannell, Michael Stewart, and Eleanor Bumpurs as a front graphic who were murdered by police violence. The back graphic was an upside-down pig symbolic of dirty cops. My brother Brue McHayle was producing this tee with his crew, co-founders of PNB Nation. I was working, going to FIT and I was like no way, the world needs to know about this brand. Fashion and style for me was the next level of what hip-hop music was doing. Which was telling stories of experiences or observations happening in our neighborhoods. I saw the lane that the guys were creating in style and fashion. The social commentary of what is happening in our communities and what was culturally relevant to us. I asked to join the brand as an intern so I could prove to the guys what I could do in the area of sales and marketing. It was and still is not easy to penetrate through a male-dominated field. I believe my strong work ethic, my demand for respect, not taking things personally, and not allowing myself to be objectified allowed me entry and success in the space. Those key aspects were important for me. I went from intern to equity partner within three years.
Being the co-founder of Hoop88Dreams, what inspired you to start this company, and what aspirational goals are you aiming to achieve?
I saw a void in the market for something I wanted to see as a consumer. So that is the entrepreneur in me. The inspiration comes from hip-hop’s golden era in which I was coming of age and when I was personally introduced to gold hoop earrings. So for me, I wanted to be honest about the inspiration and celebrate the style that influenced me. My goal is to create a profitable global brand again rooted in our culture and the story of style we created in the inner city via hip-hop. The energy and philosophy of Black Wall Street burn inside me.
Growing up multiracial, born to a Jamaican father and Chinese mother, how were you able to use either and/or both cultures to become successful in your field? How influential were the cultures or did they play any part in your fashion and business decisions?
I grew up in the housing projects in Brooklyn in a predominately black neighborhood during the ’70s and ’80s, raised by my Chinese mother. My experience there and observation of style that I later adopted and now celebrate is the essence of my personal success. I created a whole business model around it. My work ethic and ability not to take no for answer, wraparounds, strategy, figuring out points of entry is very much the Chinese in me. So my culture has been very influential. My father always said, “Shara, you have the best of both worlds.” I never could wrap my arms around it, but today I see how I truly manifest that concept in my day-to-day life translating culture.
Being a Black woman entrepreneur, what advice would you give to anyone who wants to follow their passion and live out their dreams when it comes to owning and running a business?
Create your business model, get incorporated, lock in your social media handles. Always be a student, run your race and look for your community. Understand why you are working 100 hours for yourself instead of 40 hours for someone else. When you understand and are committed to this, don’t give up and don’t give it away. The success will be inevitable.