Charismatic funnyman Cedric “The Entertainer” is known for being one of the original “Kings of Comedy” and now he will go down in history as the “King of Hats.” That’s right, Ced debuted his brand new line of designer hats appropriately known as “Who Ced” at this year’s Magic Fashion show in Las Vegas. The debut was a HUGE success thanks to its founders Cedric “The Entertainer” and Gary Garner.
The Who Ced collection offers its customers a large selection of quality designer and casual hats to add a special dash of style to any attire! While Ced was away on business, I got a chance to catch up with co-founder Gary Garner to find out the inspiration behind the Who Ced hat collection. You can check out our interview by clicking on the subtitle above or scrolling below.
So Gary, what inspired you guys to start Who Ced?
Gary: We wanted to do something that leveraged Ced’s keen sense of style. We wanted something we could do “our way” and the high end hat was an obvious starting point. The hat has always kind of been Ced’s calling card and it was something we were both passionate about.
What makes Who Ced different and unique from its competitors?
Gary: Early on in establishing the brand we all put our fingers on every hat. We personally shopped for the fabrics, created the design concepts, and chose the final notions that make our hats identifiable. From creating the name, designing the logo and building the brand landscape we handled even the smallest details ourselves.
We want our product to be authentic and we want people to know it is not a hat endorsed by Cedric “The Entertainer” it is a hat created by Cedric “The Entertainer.” We combine the highest quality materials with meticulous craftsmanship to construct every hat in a way that speaks volumes about the hat and the wearer.
What were some of the biggest challenges you guys faced starting up and how did you manage to overcome those challenges?
Gary: Nothing worth having comes easy. Of course we had our challenges but the core Who Ced team, (Lorna Kyles Angela Wells, Ced and I) all know what it means to work hard. So we never really skipped a beat when faced with a challenge. We had our hiccups with manufacturing, event planning and all the business architecture that comes with any start up. But we were committed to success and unafraid to get our hands dirty. So we worked our way through the challenges by sticking together and being relentless.
What roles do you and Ced play in the partnership?
Gary: Ced is the CEO and I am the President but our roles really overlap quite a bit. We both take a very hands on approach to every facet of the business. Ced has an incredible head for business, but before I really knew him I thought I was just getting a famous face in the deal. Now I realize he is one of the few guys I know that can use what I call the “triocular”, which is a fictional device with binocular lenses on the outside and a microscope in the middle.
It allows you to view your business from a distance to look at the big picture strategy and then zoom in on the details when necessary to break through barriers to progress. I have helmed several companies of my own and played key roles at some of the world’s most successful firms and very few CEOs I have known really know how to use both lenses effectively. This is one of those rare opportunities where I really feel like I am working with someone who “get’s it” at the highest level.
What’s the coolest part about the Who Ced brand?
Gary: Well our celebrity spokes person is a pretty cool cat but beyond that I think it is all about the lifestyle we are creating. We want the Who Ced consumer to join us in living the good life. We encourage people that work hard to play just as hard. We know times are tough right now but we also know there are a lot of people working harder than ever to get ahead and we want those people to know it is okay to treat themselves to finer things on occasion. As a result we will be hosting events to recognize those people and give them an opportunity to roll “our way.”
Is there a certain book or movie that inspires your work?
Gary: Well not directly but I will say when I first met Ced he turned me onto Mad Men and it is one of the few shows I am hooked on…..so I would imagine that the vibe has probably seeped into what we do a little.
As an entrepreneur, how do you use fear to work for you rather than against you?
Gary: I have worked with quite a few companies in a host of industries. Fear has been at the center of everything I have done professionally. When you are an innovator or you are responsible for fostering dramatic change you are often met with a lot of fear based resistance. The key to overcoming that is acknowledging that it exists.
Most people fear what they do not understand. So rather than getting angry when people push back I try to figure out what is motivating their fear. It has been my experience that when you present people with options, educate them about the risks associated and let them know you won’t turn and run on them when the bullets start to fly they will face those fears head on.
I often use the fear of inaction “or doing nothing” to let people know that the status quo will inevitably lead to extinction. If you don’t continually move your business forward one hiccup can mean closing the doors for good and I think in today’s economy that is a fear we can all relate to.
Being an entrepreneur can be a thankless job sometimes. How did you guys manage to stay focused and motivated in the beginning stages of your business?
Gary: Three things really fueled us in the beginning. A Passion for what we do, hard work and having a little fun every day. Not a day goes by that I don’t tease Angie about one thing or another, share the finer points of my hillbilly slang with Lorna and have a good laugh with Ced over something ridiculous.
We believe in practicing what we preach and we are all at the points in our lives where we don’t have to do things we don’t enjoy….So we have a strategy of small controlled growth, strong partnerships and working with people we like to be around. Not only does that help us stay focused but it gives our company a value platform that we hope will remain intact a hundred years from now.
What advice would you give an entrepreneur starting out today?
Gary: I get hit on daily by people with the “next big thing” and I would say I pursue less than 4-5% of those opportunities, because most of them lack the key fundamentals for success. I always say “Ideas are like sex, everyone wants to have them but no one wants to live with the responsibility that comes afterward.” Even the best ideas require, a well thought out plan, a laser beam focus, a ton of hard work, strong partners, appropriate capitalization and undying relentlessness.
My advice for entrepreneurs starting out today is simple, first accept that the road ahead will not be an easy one. Then challenge your idea and if it stands up to scrutiny don’t give up when things get hard….things are supposed to get hard, it’s part of the process. Pushing through tough times is what distinguishes today’s great leaders from those who only have great ideas.
I noticed on your website you have an Egg and Butter Club. Can you give our subscribers some information regarding this club?
Gary: The best way to really appreciate the Egg and Butter Club is to visit the website at www.whoced.com and see the history of the movement and where we came up with the idea. But in short, The Egg and Butter Club is a fraternity of men at the top of their respective games, who get together to treat themselves to the finer things on occasion. We are men who know how to work hard and play hard.
In the next few weeks we are going to make a limited run of product available on our website and then we will be talking about how members can get free hats, attend events or maybe get a chance to kick it with us, and experience the Egg & Butter lifestyle first hand. So we encourage our fans and customers to join the Egg & Butter Club and see what it’s all about.
How does Who Ced Spread Luv?
Gary: Giving back is important to us on a lot of levels and we are all involved in a host different educational initiatives and charities. The two front and center right now are: Ced’s Cedric the Entertainer Charitable Foundation that gives educational scholarships to young people and my Good Will Ambassadorship to the UNs ECOSOC organization VAM (Voices of African Mothers) which provides a full range of educational services to African countries. That’s how we Spread Luv!
Feel free to visit our website to purchase your own Who Ced designer hat: www.whoced.com Thanks for your support!!
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