What’s the inspiration behind Benson Watch Company?
I have always been passionate about watches. I got my first one at age 7, and since then I’ve collected about 100 of them. It took me a long time to understand why I was drawn to them—I had to live a little first.
I followed a traditional life path: went to college, then got a job. After a few years, I realized I wasn’t happy. I was trying to fit into a box I was too big for, and I was not living an authentic life. As I began to reflect on how I spent my time and what made me happy, I started to understand why I had been collecting watches all these years.
I started this business with the hope that my journey would inspire anyone who came in contact with the brand. Our slogan is: “Time Should Be Spent Doing What You Love”. I wrote this as a reminder to myself, and every day I’m committed to making it someone else's reality as well.
These watches are more than just jewelry—they are reminders to remain in pursuit of your passion.
How do you handle risk and competition?
Doing what we love is our birthright. Remaining authentic is the single most important way of handling competition and risk.
I stay aware of what’s going on in the market, and I try to maintain my authentic self through it all. Offering watches and accessories in an unconventional way is my superpower. The story of our brand and what it represents is powerful—and it resonates with people from all walks of life.
Has the Black business community played a role in the success of your company?
Yes, the Black business community has played a huge role in the success of the company. Early acknowledgment from outlets like Black Enterprise and Rolling Out magazine helped us gain exposure we would not have been able to garner on our own. Many of my first customers were Black people who just wanted to ensure that I stayed the course to win.
Why did you decide to raise from the crowd via Republic?
I looked around the industry and didn’t see any notable brands that looked like me. I wanted to change that. With the proper capital, I believe we are uniquely positioned to scale our business—and I wanted to give those who know and love the brand the opportunity to grow with us.
What has been your experience as a Black entrepreneur and founder?
My experience as a Black entrepreneur has been one of having to rely on myself and the community for exposure. It's been one of advocating for my community in every opportunity that I receive. It's about believing that my story and success can make it slightly easier for the next generation of kids that look like me that may have a cool idea.
How can we help create a more diverse and inclusive startup ecosystem?
We can create a more diverse and inclusive ecosystem by spending more time holding dialogue with people of the Black and Brown communities to get a better understanding of the culture. There also need to be more people of color in positions to make decisions about the company's future. We need representation or we'll be left out each time a decision is rendered.
Companies often get written off because they may not be relatable based on someone's limited point of reference, but there's a whole world of people that love and resonate with what Black people bring to the table.
What’s your team culture like?
Our culture is centered around the belief that time should be spent doing what you love. Each person that works with the company has something else that they are working towards. While they are committed to their job, they have dreams as well—and we support and foster that. We have developed an ambitious and caring culture by prioritizing our mission.
What's your advice to Black entrepreneurs looking to start a company?
We are uniquely positioned to be incredible in business. Our life experiences are rare, and in many ways they set us up for the grit, resourcefulness, and outside-of-the-box thinking that entrepreneurs rely on every day.
Use your life experience and start now. Don't wait—you'll learn as you go. Stay focused, keep learning, and start from where you're at.
Do you have any unusual routines or habits?
I freestyle in the car in my drive time to process the day—think Issa Rae in the mirror freestyling on HBO's Insecure.
If you could give yourself one piece of advice 5 years ago, what would it be?
Don’t try to please everyone!