I learned to appreciate dressing well from the man who inspired the name of my company, my great-grandfather, C.L. Nelson. I wish I’d had more time with him, but the years I did have influenced my life. His ways have stayed with me.
My great-grandfather was a true gentleman, a provider, a holy man, and an amazing dresser. He taught me and my oldest brother that no matter who you are - the janitor, or the mayor - you always want to leave the house looking like a million bucks. From grade school until this day I have taken his advice to heart.
My great-grandfather played another important role in my life: he was my rock in a childhood filled with constant waves of change.
Growing up, I had two brothers and a sister. We all had different fathers who spent little time with us. Despite my mother’s seven marriages, most of my life was spent in a single parent home with just my Mom and siblings. My oldest brother was more like a father figure to me, or at least who I looked up to for most of my childhood. We didn't have much, and depended on the Government for food stamps and rental assistance.
My parents didn't really get along, so the early years of my life were highs and lows depending on where they were at the time. Eventually, as I got older, I made the choice to move in with my father, stepmother, and stepbrother, thinking the grass would be greener.
I guess it was about a year into living with my dad when he decided to become a truck driver. My junior year of high school he left to go on a trip, and never came back. No call… no letter… no warning. After a couple of months I came home one day from school and my stepmother said, ”I guess George isn't coming back home. I'm going to need you to help out with some of the bills.” I got a job after school at the local Kroger Supermarket.
I would think about one of my friends whose dad worked for the railroad. My buddy and his four siblings always had food… and consistency. His dad was tough, but fair, and whenever I came over, the family never turned me away for a meal or a place to stay for a bit. I always envied my friend.
I eventually ran into my dad years later, only to find out he had been living just a few blocks away with another family. The strange part about it is, had he told me he was unhappy and wanted to leave, I would have understood. Instead, I was abandoned… his only son, without notice or an explanation. I was glad to have him back in my life, but it was hard.
As difficult as our relationship was, Dad and I always told each other we loved each other and kissed one another on the cheek. He had his demons, and so do I.
Today, I am a father myself. I have two amazing daughters on both ends of the age spectrum: a 19-year-old who's going into her sophomore year of college, and a 5-year-old who will be starting kindergarten next year. People think I’m crazy! But I cherish every moment with my girls.
I’ve had my own rocky road that has affected them. But I’m committed to putting them before my own needs, making sure they are safe, and that they feel safe. I encourage them when they win, and pick them up when they fall. I try to be tough but fair, like my friend’s father, and honest - even when it makes me look vulnerable and un-Superman-like. And, no matter what, I love them like there is no tomorrow.
With God’s help, I can carry on the legacy and integrity of my great-grandfather. I take joy in dressing and styling people, inspiring confidence and instilling a sense of gentlemanly pride. I respect my customers, listening to each of their stories, and I make it my mission to help them through their own life journeys.
Because when you look good, you feel good.
Happy Father’s Day,