The Lucky Onez athletics and casual wear. Courtesy of Martin Cruz Photography
By Bill Brotherton
LYNN — When Boston Fashion Week kicks off on Friday, Sept. 23, six young men from the North Shore will be sharing the spotlight on opening night.
Marveil Builou, Taiye Owolabi, Eddy Moyeno, Benjamin Tiedra, Eseosa Okunmwendia and Chamberlain Otisi — collectively known as The Lucky Onez — will showcase their Lynn-based urban athletic and casual clothing brand at the “Fashion in the City” show at East End Grille in Somerville.
To say they are excited is an understatement. The annual celebration of Boston style has helped many talented locals move to the next level.
“The support we get is amazing; people believe in us. We will prove that something good can come out of Lynn and make an impact worldwide,” said Builou. “Inner-city kids from Lynn and Peabody and Salem can make it happen. No matter what background you come from or what city you come from, it does not define who you are and that only you are in control of your own destiny.”
Builou, 23, is The Lucky Onez CEO. He has lived in Lynn since he was 2 years old. The 2011 English High grad played football there and was in its ROTC program. He studied criminal justice at Salem State University. His supportive family is from the Congo. “I always have looked for ways to improve myself,” he says matter-of-factly.
Owolabi lives in Lynn with his mom and twin sister. He was born in Beverly Hospital but his family hails from Nigeria. The company’s CFO earned his GED in 2011, attended North Shore Community College and now studies business administration at Salem State. He’s also a songwriter and a devout Christian: “I serve God. Faith is big with me.”
He shares The Lucky Onez philosophy: “You’re different. You’re unique. When someone wears our brand they’re not like everyone else. Everyone has something special about them. Why would anybody want to be like somebody else.”
“Anyone can go to the mall and spend two weeks pay on a T-shirt,” added Builou. “We decided to create affordable, unique apparel that feels luxurious to the person wearing it.” The urban shirts, joggers and hoodies have been a hit with online customers. Most of their sales are from outside Massachusetts, especially Kansas — the guys can’t figure that one out; there must be a lot of self-confident people in the Sunflower State. They ship worldwide; Builou actually mails the packages from the post office near his North Common Street home.
They have just returned from the Urban Lifestyle store on Boston Street in Salem, where the owner has agreed to stock 24 The Lucky Onez shirts. It’s their first brick-and-mortar retailer.
The Lucky Onez is definitely a team effort and its success is shared by its six principals.
The outgoing, energetic Moyeno, who lives with his father in Salem, said “People don’t have to lead an ordinary life. If you put your mind to it, you can make it happen.”
Tiedra grew up in New York, Brooklyn and the Bronx mostly, then moved to Marblehead at age 6 and lived in Salem, where he still resides with his mom, sister and brother-in-law. He and Moyeno attended Horace Mann Elementary together and have been best friends since. He is The Lucky Onez’ photography/video media specialist.
Okunmwendia, one year younger at 22 than his mates, studies business management at Salem State and is a member of the university’s soccer team. He briefly attended Benedictine University in Illinois on a soccer scholarship, but returned here after one semester and transferred to NSCC. He lives in Peabody. “They called me and said they had an idea about starting a clothing business. We decided to do it … We’ve had a lot of bumps. People tell us no. We go forward anyway.” Like Owolabi, he’s from Nigeria; the two bonded at NSCC.
Otisi, 23, who was unable to join his mates for the interview, lives in Lynn and is The Lucky Onez creative director.
Sitting around Builou’s brother’s office on Broad Street, the five tease each other and joke around. But they’re serious about furthering their brand. “We’re not just a clothing line. Clothing gave us the boost, but we are a brand now,” said Builou.
A lot has happened in a short time — 1 ½ years — for these six friends and entrepreneurs, most of whom sold Amway products together until they decided to start their own business. “Amway is a good business … but I got no passion from it,” said Owolabi. “You have to like what you’re doing.”
“We’ve educated ourselves,” added Builou. “The business has evolved and we’ve expanded. We realized we can do it. We’re not afraid to take a leap of faith to get outside Lynn, to drive two or three hours to showcase our brand. It’s a lot of work. Most of us have two jobs, and between work and school and The Lucky Onez there’s not much time to sleep.”
The group shares the philosophy that dreams can come true if you’re willing to work hard, stay positive and keep the naysayers at bay. They want that positivity to carry over to their customers.
Their website proclaims “The Lucky Onez are strong believers in living the healthiest lifestyle and becoming the best versions of ourselves. With a positive mentality, positive surrounding and being consistent with our positive ways of well being; not only can we achieve anything but make others realize that they can do the same.”
Their motto: Live well, Feel well, Look well.
“My advice to younger kids is to always believe in yourself. That goofy kid sitting next to you in class, saying ‘I like Power Rangers,’ can do well,” said Builou.
“Don’t let people tell you you can’t do something. You can do it. We love what we do … we are truly the lucky ones. If you have self-confidence, you are the lucky ones too.”
Check out The Lucky Onez designs at www.the luckyonez.com. For the Boston Fashion Week schedule, go to www.bostonfashionweek.com.