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art in real life

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I'm mortally afraid of being bored.  I like to write about learning, making, science-ing, thinking, and creating.

Community Leader and Entrepreneur: Roosevelt Jackson, Jr.

Entrepreneurs are fascinating people, and the successful ones are brave, resourceful, and driven.  Roosevelt (RJ) Jackson, Jr., owner of RJ's Custom Clothiers, is a successful entrepreneur with a passion for giving back to his community.  Spend five minutes with RJ Jackson and you will understand artistry.  Like all successful artists, RJ is a man who remembers where he comes from, knows who he is, and is dedicated to his craft. 

Just like a nice pocket square or beautiful tie, RJ's Custom Clothiers is tucked into the Poplar Plaza shopping center near the intersection of Poplar and Highland in Memphis, Tennessee. RJ has been curating custom tailor-made suits, dress shirts, and ties since 1995.  

Roosevelt Jackson, Jr.'s Rules for Life
1.  Allow God to be in charge.
2.  
Remember where you come from.
3.  Remember those who have less than you.
4.  Strive to make your community a better one.

Before retiring, RJ's mother was a tailor and seamstress. So unsurprisingly, RJ was a snappy dresser from a young age.  During his middle school years, his favorite wardrobe piece was a blue corduroy jacket with brown elbow patches "I even wore that thing in the summertime!" (That's dedication to style in Memphis where summer temperatures can reach over 100 degrees!)

"I always dressed nicely.  Even in high school, when it wasn't cool," Jackson says.  Ever the fashion bug, RJ fed his need for flair in high school by working at Greg's Store for Men.  With discipline, RJ saved enough money from working at Greg's to buy his first car at age 16, a 1972 Cutlass.  

Money can be a servant or a master.  
It’s up to us to decide which.
— Roosevelt Jackson, Jr.

"I actually had to borrow $70.00 from my dad to buy that car. He made me pay it back, too!  My father taught me to respect myself, respect others, and try to do right by less fortunate people since you never know when you might be the less fortunate one," says Jackson. 

Nowadays, RJ is committed to provided a highly individualized client experience.  He will even make house calls or office visits to take measurements and discuss wardrobe preferences.  "I'll go wherever my customer needs me.  Once I understand my client's preferences, I can easily choose patterns and styles that will make that person feel confident," Jackson says.

RJ bought his first custom-made dress shirt in 1987, the same year he graduated from Whitehaven High School (Memphis City Schools). And although he has always had a passion for the nicer things in life (cigars, cologne, cars, etc.), his career path has always included service to others and outreach to the wider community.

Now RJ participates in the Shelby County Sheriff's Community Outreach program.  Every other Tuesday, he dons a Shelby County Sheriff's uniform and drives a squad car to visit and assist with the unique needs of elderly Shelby County residents.  

"Mostly, I just sit with them and talk.  Sometimes these folks feel forgotten, so the best gift I can give seniors is time and conversation.  They need to be recognized and loved," Jackson says.

Life for RJ has not always been easy.  He tells of harder times and nearly going broke more than once.  RJ said humbly, "Yes, I've gone through rough times.  I've even had cars repossessed.  Looking back, I realize that those difficult times reflect my own immaturity.  I was going beyond what I needed.  Money can be a servant or a master.  It's up to us to decide which."

Like an entrepreneurship maestro, RJ enjoys traveling across the country to attend men's retail clothing conventions not only as a chance to grow his business, but also because he gets a chance to guest-preach at churches along the way.

Faith in God is very important to RJ.  When he is home, he serves as a preacher and minister for King Solomon Baptist Church in Memphis. Pastoring, it seems, runs in the Jackson family.  RJ's father, Reverend Roosevelt Jackson, Sr. was the pastor of New St. Paul Baptist Church (West Memphis, Arkansas), as was also a national pastor and evangelist before he passed away September 1, 2008.

I encourage to you pick a day to drop by RJ's Custom Clothiers to chat with RJ.  In addition to exquisite ties and custom clothing options, you may catch him watching Young and the Restless or Sanford and Son re-runs on TV while in between client phone calls.  RJ might tell you about his new chocolate labrador puppy named Buster Douglass Jakcson.  If you are lucky, he might mention the love of his life, Ptosha, and how he met her in high school, but didn't marry her until 2007.   Know this: whatever RJ says to you, listen carefully.  His life story is inspiring and he has wisdom to share, as well as exquisite custom-made shirts, suits, pocket squares, and ties.

Visit RJ's Custom Clothiers at  3479 Poplar Ave., Memphis, TN 38111 or call the showroom at 901-324-1150. http://www.rjscustomclothiers.com/