Steven Burton is someone you might consider to be a revolutionary. In a good sense. The 33-year-old entrepreneur is making waves in the tuxedo and formal wear industry, creating a space called his own with the company he founded-Perfect Tux. In just a year and a half, Perfect Tux has made over $800,000 in revenue.
Buzz about Perfect Tux has circulated so much so that the one stop shop company is featured in films Ocean’s Eight and Pitch Perfect 3. News4usonline Editor Dennis J. Freeman caught up with Burton to ask the thriving business owner about the success of his company.
Dennis J. Freeman: How did your concept for Perfect Tux come about?
Steven Burton: “I worked in the formal wear industry for about 10 years before starting Perfect Tux. I also started my first successful e-commerce business right out of high school. I felt that I could use my in-depth knowledge of both to create a better experience for formal wear customers online.”
Dennis J. Freeman: Explain what is Her Perfect Tux? How does it accommodate women? What events are high in demand for ladies to wear tuxedoes?
Steven Burton: “We carry several items in women’s formal wear, including a tuxedo designed and tailored to fit a women’s body. We’ve had customers buy our women’s tux to attend weddings, proms, and even the ladies of the Emmy-winning award talk show, The Talk, wore our women’s items for their Season 7 promo shoot.”
Dennis J. Freeman: What audience do you try to cater to specifically?
Steven Burton: “Since we do strive to be a one-stop shop for formal wear, we cater to a lot of audiences. From the future bride and groom looking to style their wedding, to the mom looking for a suit for their boy, to all the high school seniors going to prom – we work hard to make the online buying experience an easy one.”
Dennis J. Freeman: Perfect Tux seems to be a one-stop shop with a little bit of everything to offer customers. Do you worry about over saturation of your products? Why not focus on one particular item(s)?
Steven Burton: “I don’t think we offer anything that is outside of the formal wear umbrella. If we’re going to sell you a tuxedo or suit, we also want to sell you a shirt, vest, shoes, and bow tie. Inventory management can be tougher when you have thousands of SKUs, but it’s important to offer a wide variety in this day and age of e-commerce. We aren’t particularly worried about ever saturation.”
Dennis J. Freeman: As a minority business owner, what are the biggest challenges you face? What do you champion as being a black entrepreneur?
Steven Burton: “When I first opened my business checking account at a local bank and set up accounts with vendors, I felt like I wasn’t being taken seriously. Could it be because I look really young or I’m black? Or the type of business that I was trying to open? Maybe they didn’t hear/see that every day. But honestly, things changed once money started flowing in. And actually my confidence grew as well. As I enter my second year of business, I’m looking to grow and will need outside funding. I hope that my first experiences won’t be the same this time around. Being a black entrepreneur, I want to set an example for future generations who want to be owners. I hope to share my story and inspire other minorities as well.”
Dennis J. Freeman: Why are African Americans not taught to be entrepreneurs or owners of a company as opposed to just being workers?
Steven Burton: “I think it’s just something our parents taught us, and their parents taught them. People think that the civil rights act was a long time ago. My grandparents are still alive and they didn’t have the same opportunities I’ve had. So when you couldn’t do anything but try to get a great, stable job, you would teach that to your kids and so on…so on. But I’m hoping my generation takes advantage of our opportunities and then can teach the next generation how to be business owners.”
Dennis J. Freeman: Does Perfect Tux cater primarily to the African American audience?
Steven Burton: “No, we cater to everyone. But what I did do purposely was make sure that all races were represented in our product photos and advertising.”
Dennis J. Freeman: If you have advice to aspiring black business owners, what would that advice be?
Steven Burton: “My best piece of advice would be to think about starting a business in steps. Looking back on my life in the past 5-7 years, it took a desire to improve my credit, that lead me to a desire to make better financial decisions, that then lead me to a desire to build wealth. And by the time I knew what I wanted to do, my now excellent credit along with a little savings allowed me to invest into myself and my business.”
Dennis J. Freeman: What have been the keys to your success-personally and career-wise?
Steven Burton: “Hard work and a desire to learn. What I don’t know, I research and try master it. Also, sometimes you have to take that leap of faith in life. You’d be surprise what you can accomplish when you have that “sink or swim” feeling.”
Dennis J. Freeman: Who or what has been your biggest influence?
Steven Burton: “I can’t name one-but all business owners. Whenever I hear the stories of years of struggle and ups and downs of running a business, and finally breaking through – it’s so inspirational and motivates me to work harder.”
Dennis J. Freeman: We’re seeing more and more black business owners in just about all areas of life. What do you think has sparked this type of progressiveness?
Steven Burton: “Like my answer to why African-Americans aren’t taught to be entrepreneurs, I just feel that there is more awareness about ownership and being a business owner in general.”
Dennis J. Freeman: What motivates you?
Steven Burton: “My family and a burning desire to be the best at what I do and to live the life I would like to have.”