Limitations do not exist for Robert Jones. His story is inspiring, his goals are precise and his presence comes with a powerful message. Just at the age of five, he lost his mother and father in the most unfortunate circumstances. Now just 15 years later, he is on the journey to become an influential speaker, content creator and style expert.
Using his misfortunes to empower others, he has carefully curated a social media presence and platform following the guise of affordable fashion. His men’s fashion YouTube channel, GentStyle, combines the upscale with the inexpensive while covering a plethora of topics such as grooming guides, accessory reviews, and relationships tips. With only a year under its belt, GentStyle has successfully delivered a fresh perspective gaining viewers from different walks of life and putting Robert one step closer to his long term goals of creating his own foundation and men’s accessory line.
Khaila King: What’s your story?
Robert Jones: The big thing that I use to tell my story is my childhood, because when I was five, I lost my parents in a murder suicide. It’s a bad thing that happened, but what I’ve learned is that you can use something that is bad as a way to impact other people in a positive way. Basically, I share my story. I’m into fashion so I have a men’s fashion YouTube channel and my focus of the channel is affordable style. A lot of guys think in order to dress nice you have to spend a lot of money on your watches, your clothes, your jackets and stuff, but what I want to do is prove that you can dress nice and do it on a budget. I also work at the Boys and Girls Club as my day job, so I get to talk to the young kids about style and how to dress nice with many other different life lessons that I’ve picked up over the years. It’s pretty fun, but I guess if I had to say “who’s Robert Jones,” I would say I’m a guy who likes style. I’m a guy who wants to share my story because I think it could help other people.
KK: Tell me about building your platform.
RJ: When I was in high school I was in an innovations class and it is basically a class where you get to come in and do all these different things that spark your interest. So if you want to start a clothing line you can do that, if you want to make a board game you can do that. I had a podcast with one of my buddies. We made videos along with it. We would record videos of the podcast and I was like “I kind of like filming stuff.” My brother was also in that class. He needed something to work on and people were telling us that we dress nice all the time so I was like what if we start a YouTube channel and so we started what was then called The Fashion Brothers, which was our first YouTube channel. Then he decided he wanted to continue with school and make that his main priority and I wanted to make video my main priority. I still go to school, but the videos I feel are my calling. I started GentStyle about a year ago and over the past year I think I’ve of really improved, because when I first started the quality of all my videos were pretty bad. Stuff didn’t look good, but now everything is in focus and everything is in high quality so I’ve just continued to make the videos and I’m going to see where it goes.
KK: What originally motivated you to start GentStyle? How do you find content to keep viewers interest and what avenues do you take to promote your brand?
RJ: I started the channel, because I was trying to think of a way to showcase my affordable style and I had all these tips and stuff that I heard over the years. I’ve read books on how to dress nice and that kind of stuff, so I wanted to have kind of a base, or a set place where you can go and find out all of my information. I’d have to say that the easiest thing is buying the equipment and knowing how to make high quality videos. That’s something I just figured out over time, but the hardest part is marketing and reaching more people, because people ask, “why don’t you have sponsors,” and it’s like you have to have a certain number of subscribers. The sponsor is not going to want to have just 500 people who see your videos they want 50,000 or 500,000. The big part now is building that base, building that audience.
KK: What first peaked your interest in the fashion industry?
RJ: When I was a little kid, my grandmother dressed us really nice; we wore suits and stuff. I always liked going to church, because we got to wear really nice stuff and when we were younger, we’d go to school and we’d always have Jordans or nice shoes on. Since the beginning, I’ve always been like “I’m going to dress nice.” I’ve always worn cologne, like when I was in kindergarten I wore cologne. These are just things that added up over the years, got me to where I am today and developed my love for style and fashion.
KK: What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced and what have you learned from it?
RJ: I think the biggest challenge that I have faced with my YouTube channel is being consistent. You can slack off but people stop clicking on the videos and you get less views. You have to stay consistent. My biggest thing is that I have to stay consistent with the uploads, but it’s kind of hard. A more recent challenge that I am having, is that it is really hard to come up with fresh ideas. When I first started the channel, I had a bunch of ideas that I already knew what I was going to talk about and now it’s like I’ve discussed everything that I wanted to talk about so now I have to keep trying to find more stuff. That’s probably the biggest thing is coming up with ideas.
KK: What advice would you give to aspiring content creators who are struggling with building their platform?
RJ: The first thing is making sure that all your videos are in focus. Make sure all your pictures are high quality. No one wants to click on something that doesn’t look good or sound good. That’s another big part, if you’re making videos you want to make sure that everything sounds good because if it’s peaking and hurting their ears, they’re going to click off the video. That’s the main thing and the second thing is to be consistent.
KK: What are your short term and long term goals for your brand and your platform?
RJ: I make lists of stuff that I want to accomplish. On a given day it may include taking this many Instagram pictures or recording this many videos before this time. Those are probably my short term goals, just to have my stuff done and be consistent. Long term is eventually launching my own line of men’s fashion accessories, going and speaking to colleges and their graduating class about how to dress, and going to schools and teaching kids things about style and sharing my story. One thing that is really kind of long term that I want to do is to have some sort of foundation or just have my own company helping underprivileged guys who need clothes for job interviews or graduating. I want to raise funds and use that money to take these guys shopping and getting them a wardrobe so when they graduate and they start their first job they can dress nice and look like the rest of their counterparts.