Interview With Taheed Watson of Heed NYC
Recently we had the pleasure of interviewing Taheed Watson of Heed NYC
HEED NYC is a Manhattan, NY-based luxury fashion brand created by designer and founder Taheed R Watson. The company was conceived in late 2017 and the online shop officially launched January ’20. The company produces ready-to-wear, sneakers, handbags, scarves, fragrances, eyewear, timepieces and other accessories.
The company name HEED (/hēd/) NYC is not just an eponymous adieu to the founder, but a statement that our designs will focus on taking note, being aware of and taking heed to a growing multi-cultural society that is driving the evolution of fashion. Our vision is to embrace the diversity; to be unapologetically fearless and to expand our brand footprint worldwide.
HEED NYC has already started partnering and creating LIMITED EDITION COLLECTIONS with Mexican Artist, Producer and DJ GLO MY as well as Iconic/Legendary New York Street Artist Magnum M.S.K. Each product collection is expected to be released online late in’20.
Can you share with our readers how you started your fashion company? What inspired you, and what is your company mission?
The concept of HEED NYC has been something I’ve ideated on for many years. However, I’d say I really started the detailed planning back in 2017 and I officially launched the website in January of 2020. The inspiration has always been centered around creating a high-quality luxury brand that is recognized worldwide. Our mission is to embrace diversity and be unapologetically fearless and aggressive in expanding our brand footprint.
How does diversity play into your fashion company and its mission?
As previously mentioned, the word diversity is literally written into our mission statement. Our vision and identity are to make a statement through our designs that focus on taking note, being aware of, and taking HEED to a growing multi-cultural society that is driving the evolution of fashion. We embrace the diversity we have discovered through collaborations and cultural influences and will continue to expand on this as we grow our brand footprint worldwide.
During the pandemic many people lost their jobs and livelihood. How did your company adapt and pivot during this time to be what it is today?
Obviously unbeknownst and without warning the pandemic came shortly after we launched in January 2020. So not only were we facing similar challenges of any new brand that is trying to establish a name, we also had the challenges of literally being “locked down” and unable to have that necessary person-to-person interaction to help really sell the brand. It also didn’t help that there was plenty of financial uncertainty which had a significant impact on sales. With all that said, the pandemic was a blessing to our young and up-and-coming business. It really gave us time to assess and perfect our brand offering. We paid attention to the climate and impact the lockdown had on everyone. We used the time for R&D and establishing a connection with our potential customers through social media. This helped us fine-tune our product offering and we gained a better understanding of what people really liked and also taught us how to create a better customer experience. During the process, we also removed items that weren’t meeting our required standards. I feel all of this was a positive amalgamation that led us to be where we are today. It’s almost like we were auditioning the brand during the height of the pandemic and the feedback received became invaluable for our growth. Now that we are moving closer to “normalcy” we’re truly ready for everyone to TAKE HEED!
If you could go back and talk to your younger self, what would you tell him and why?
Don’t waste time following your dreams. If we learned anything in recent months, life is short. I think we can end up focusing too long on the wrong things and that can take time away from realizing our true talent and greatness. I’d tell him to focus, work harder than everyone else, be patient, and to quote Steve Jobs “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your inner voice.”
Are there any fashion pioneers that have led the way that you admire?
I personally have an affinity for the stories around Gucci and Louis Vuitton, and the struggles their personal families faced in building their respective brands. It’s amazing how these brands are 100+ years old and still relevant today. I’m also fascinated with the genesis of designers like Tom Ford and Michael Kors and how they helped shape fashion and revived brands like Gucci and Celine. Lastly, I’m highly influenced by the blueprint established in building fashion brand consortiums like Capri Holdings (Michael Kors, Jimmy Choo and Versace), LVMH (Louis Vuitton, Moet, Hennessey, Christian Dior, Givenchy, Celine…) and Kering Group (Gucci, YSL, Bottega Veneta…). It is our long-term vision to acquire complementary brands and build a similar consortium in the future.
How would you describe your personal fashion style?
I actually feel like my style is however I feel for that day. I can be more conservative with a blazer, or it can be jeans and a t-shirt. I think weather and season play a role in what I choose. Fall is my favorite season because it allows me to be the most creative in how I present myself to the world. I love jackets and coats, so obviously it needs to be cool enough to pull off a nice coat.
Can you tell us about some of your collaborations with creative artists?
I have to say that in our short time we have been truly blessed in our collaborations with Artists and Influencers. This is partly due to the fact that we have the best Brand Manager in the business. From providing our signature bags to events like the Soul Train Awards for artists like Babyface, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Wale, Stokely and Boys II Men; to designing custom bags for Kevin Hart, Nelly, Nick Cannon… for their television show ‘Real Husbands of Hollywood’; to providing some of our luxury sneakers to En Vogue, Debbie Allen & Norm Nixon, Denzel Washington and wife, Eddie Murphy and family; to having our brand highlighted on the cover of Industry Rules, featured by Bronze Magazine, and more. We have had great success and feedback with our collaborations. In addition, within the brand, we have collaborated to create limited edition collections with an Iconic New York City Grafitti Artist (Magnum MSK) as well as a collection with a famous Mexican DJ (GLO MY).
Are you working on any exciting new projects now?
Our next collaboration will be centered around our unique, unisex, handmade in Italy, luxury sunglasses. We have received great feedback and a high rate of interest in them, so our plan is to work with major influencers to help with promotion now that they are production-ready.
Where do you see yourself and your brand going within the next year and the near future?
During the next year we will continue to grow our footprint both nationally and internationally by increasing our wholesale business; form additional alliances with influencers for our flagship luxury sunglasses; seek celebrity gifting, advertising, sponsorship, promotion and product placement opportunities and further expand our apparel product line.
How can our readers connect with you on social media?
You can find HEED NYC on Instagram, Tik Tok and Twitter @heednyc, and you can visit our website heednyc.com
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