This Black Designer’s Custom Lapel Pins Are Being Featured In Kimpton Hotels
By DeAnna Taylor
Buffalo, New York native Jeremiah Allen has always had an affinity for men’s fashion. His mother eventually moved him and his brother to Massachusetts where things were a lot different.
After having a somewhat rough childhood, he knew that he wanted to make a better life for himself once he got to college. So, he decided to head to Charlotte, NC to attend Johnson C. Smith University.
Jeremiah is now the owner and creator of Rook and King, a custom lapel pin business that has made its way into some of the nation’s best hotel brands.
We spoke with him to learn more about the business and what inspired him to create it.
Travel Noire: What inspired you to begin crafting these custom lapel pins?
Jeremiah: I come from a tribe of men that were suit and fedora gentlemen. As a child, I’d throw on one of my uncle’s wide brim fedoras and pretend to be an adult. That aesthetic made an impression on me. With that being said, I grew to love gentleman accents and lapel pins ranked high, but I couldn’t really find the type that really spoke to me. While going through some pretty formidable depression, I began making my own as a kind of meditative therapy. They were really intended to be just for me but then people began asking me about them and the rest is history.
TN: How do you come up with your new designs?
Jeremiah: World culture truly fascinates me. I also love symbols and use them to fuel my creativity. I start with the centerpiece and allow the vibe to carry me.
TN: Tell us about being asked to create pins for the Kimpton Hotel in California.
Jeremiah: At the time I had this deep dish owl pin. A Kimpton location out in Palm Springs California stumbled upon my little online shop and loved the design. They asked if I could make them a batch for the staff to wear in lieu of nametags.
TN: How did you begin working with the Kimpton in Charlotte?
Jeremiah: Less than a year later, the organization approached me again, only this time they were asking if I could design a hornet pin, which coincidentally was a location here in Charlotte. I asked if it’ll be ok if I delivered them in person. I met with the general manager and we had a nice long meeting and kind of hit it off.
TN: What challenges have you faced being an entrepreneur?
Jeremiah: I haven’t run into any direct obstacles other than my own internal pressure to perform at a high level. I stress over people loving my designs once in their possession and really aim for longevity in the pins.
TN: Any advice to our readers who have aspirations to one day get their creations in front of big brands?
Jeremiah: There’s only one you. I really advise just focusing on striving to be the highest quality version of yourself and the rest kind of follows. People are drawn in by authenticity. Kimpton saw this in me and wanted to partner with me. I still have a very long way to go but I’m humbled by the love and appreciation I’ve received and that in itself is motivation for me to proactively continue to seek ways to evolve as a man first. Business after. A good friend and fellow entrepreneur always tell me to “chase success, not money. Money follows wherever success is.” I carry that jewel with me everywhere.
TN: Where can we find you online?
DeAnna Taylor is a criminal defense Attorney turned travel blogger, author, and writer. While Charlotte, NC (her hometown) is her base, she's always somewhere on a plane. Catch her on IG: @brokeandabroadlife.