By Jason Klein
As Seen in Guestbook NY – 2013
Click each individual thumbnail below to read the feature story, exactly as it appeared in the 2013 issue of Guestbook NY.
By Jason Klein
As Seen in In New York Magazine – 4/26/12
When 22 year-old Michael Floyd marches across the Radio City Music Hall stage during tonight’s NFL Draft, he will officially shed his amateur status and transition towards life as a professional athlete. The wide receiver out of Notre Dame – expected to go early in the first round – will hold up his new jersey, flash a smile and pose for pictures with NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell. He’ll do all of this while sporting a designer suit, custom made for the big event.
After all the pomp and circumstance, he’ll slip into something a little more comfortable – something tailor-made for his personal lifestyle rather than tonight’s gaudy Broadway spectacle. Like many of today’s athletes, Floyd will throw on some clothing from Five Four.
It’s the hottest line of apparel you’ve likely never heard of. Its reach covers a wide variety of entertainers, celebrities and athletes. Jay-Z, Dr. Dre, Zac Efron and Larry King have all been spotted rocking Five Four. Top players like Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose, Troy Polomalu and Mark Sanchez wear it too.
Their garb is everywhere, especially in the sports world. I wanted to know why? Why Five Four? Why not Nike, Adidas, or some designer label? When I asked Five Four Co-CEO/Founder Andres Izquieta, his response was simple.
“Our stuff is just cool,” says Izquieta. “Athletes love our brand because it fits comfortably, no matter what size you are, its stylish, and it perfectly represents an athlete’s lifestyle.”
Izquieta and Dee Murthy started Five Four as 21 year-old students at the University of Southern California in 2002. Since its inception, the modern, yet classic-looking “Lifestyle Brand” has been all about setting goals, dreaming big, passion, winning and success – all core values shared by up-and-coming athletes looking to make it on a professional stage.
“Athletes transitioning to the NFL are great ambassadors of the brand,” says Izquieta. “They work so hard their entire life to get rewarded and take the next step. That’s the kind of passion and drive we have at Five Four.”
It’s the reason Izquieta and Murthy teamed up with California-based football agency, Athletes First to create The Graduating Class. It’s a 108-page book profiling twelve NFL prospects entering the 2011 Draft, and their transition from college to the NFL. According to Izquieta, the book gives a stunningly personal look into each athlete, “chronicling their journey through fashion, art, and photography, while they are in the pursuit of achieving their lifelong dream.”
The book is filled with motivational phrases, philosophies, and great photography. There are even hand-written bios from each player, revealing their fears, inspirations, and career goals. Of course, I also noticed each athlete is draped in Five Four. According to Izquieta, they wear the clothes “not because they have to, but because they truly want to.”
Often portrayed as superheroes in the media, The Graduating Classdelicately humanizes each player, peeking in on their insecurities and anxiety leading up to the biggest day of their lives – draft day. Casually decorated in Five Four, each player comes off as a “regular guy” – a concept that helps readers relate to these larger-than-life figures.
Notable members of The Graduating Class 2011 include Von Miller (Broncos), Jake Locker (Titans), and Scotty McKnight (Jets). Five Four will feature twelve players from tonight’s draft, including Floyd, as part of the project’s second run – this time, packaged as part of an online campaign. Other highlighted players include: Keenan Robinson (Texas), Melvin Ingram (South Carolina), Kellen Moore and Doug Martin (Boise State), Ryan Broyles (Oklahoma), Keleche Osemele (Iowa State), Alfonzo Dennard and Jared Crick (Nebraska), Harrison Smith (Notre Dame), Cyrus Gray and Jeff Fuller (Texas A&M)
Though Five Four is primarily a West Coast brand – their one retail location is in Los Angeles – their product is carried in over 400 stores nation-wide and is worn by athletes and celebrities everywhere. This May, they will introduce Five Four Club, a men’s subscription service that will serve as a personal stylist for men. They also plan to introduce a line of footwear this June.
Like many of the young players drafted tonight, you may have never heard of Five Four Clothing. Projects like The Graduating Class are helping to spread the word, and expose it as a brand of choice among many athletes.
Especially players like Michael Floyd, a man who will realize his dream tonight.
When he does, his life will change forever.
His Five Four wardrobe won’t.
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By Jason Klein
Originally Written For IN New York Magazine – 7/25/11
Cappie Pondexter is a dominating force in the WNBA. In just her sixth season in the league, the scrappy New York Liberty Guard has one of the most lethal jump shots in the league, and is among the leaders in most statistical categories. The superstar baller has already won two championships (2007, 2009) and one Finals MVP Award (2007), and was recently nominated by ESPN for the 2011 ESPY Award honoring the best player in the WNBA.
At 28 years old, the former Rutgers University standout is in the prime of her professional career and showing no signs of slowing down. As a celebrity athlete in New York City, she seemingly has the world at her fingertips. However, that doesn’t stop her from looking forward and thinking about what’s next.
“I’m preparing for my future after basketball,” says Pondexter. While I’m playing in the WNBA, I can use that platform to help build awareness for my company.
The company she speaks of is 4Season Style Management, a full-service consulting firm that specializes in helping clients develop their public image. Pondexter started the company in 2010, acting on a lifelong fascination with fashion trends and personal style development.
According to Pondexter, 4Season Style Management helps clients with everything from wardrobe selection, hair and makeup to website and logo design, ultimately creating a personal brand.
It all starts with a simple 30-minute introductory phone consultation and the creation of a “Style Profile” to nail down specific shopping habits, personal sizing and existing wardrobe trends. Each individual client enjoys the same personal attention to ensure a custom evaluation and plan of attack.
Although such detailed care can be rather time consuming, Pondexter takes great pride in her ability to find a balance with her busy schedule on the court.
“I am very involved in the day-to-day operations,” says Pondexter. “Whether it’s researching new designers, assisting with customer service, or reaching out to our clients, I make sure I take a hands on approach.”
Perhaps, running a company is a natural fit for such a competitive person like Pondexter, used to performing in front of thousands under the scorching lights of Madison Square Garden.
“There are a lot of similarities between the two,” admits Pondexter. “In basketball, and in business, you have to have a game plan. In both situations, I want to win and I strive to be the best. I push my team, and my clients, to be the best they can be.”
With that sort of passion and preparation, Pondexter will continue to succeed, and always stay ready for what’s next.
For a complete look at some of New York’s most successful athlete/entrepreneurs, check out Jason Klein’s full article in the August 2011 Issue of IN New York Magazine.
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