Born and raised in Atlanta, Farnsworth Bentley is bridging the worlds of fashion and hip hop. He’s a Morehouse man who majored in biology, but quickly realized that working 14 hours a day in a genetics lab wasn’t for him. “We live in a time where a completely new genre was created and I wanted to be a part of it.” He realizes that when people typically talk about hip hop, they don’t talk about its pure art form, but this is the culture that really influenced him. While in college, a lot of the luminaries around him, like TLC and Outkast, were still trying to figure out the game, and many of his associates got messed over on their first deals. These same associates were still trying to figure themselves out, so he knew he had to take a different route into the industry.
This velour slipper-wearing, king of etiquette started working in the Ralph Lauren Polo store in the southeast region and was selling more than anyone else in the area. This was part of his goal to move to New York, the Big Apple. He’d heard a lil’ saying that many of us have repeated before: If you can make it in New York you can make it anywhere. He wanted to prove to himself that he could make it anywhere. His goal panned out when was recruited to work in the Ralph Lauren flagship store in New York. Out and about in the streets of New York City, Bentley was being branded as the “suit guy,” unbeknownst to him. “I wasn’t the Wall Street guy in the grey or black suit at the different Manhattan affairs…I stood out.” It was around this time he met Sean “Puff Daddy/Puffy/P.Diddy” Combs. Bentley played it cool, pretended to be busy for a spell, but later emailed him; and the rest is history. With hard work and persistence he has become a fashion guru, a musician signed to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. music label, and the author of Advance Your Swagger.
But it’s more to this Cool.Outrageous.Lover.Of.Uniquely.Raw.Style than what meets the eye. Recently at the Missouri Black Expo’s Stop the Violence Youth Summit in St. Louis, Derrick Watkins showed a side of himself one would not see on his MTV reality shows. He came off more as a motivational speaker as he encouraged the youth to find their revelation in life. “Youth need less downtime. Life is about building relationships. Get your vertical relationship together and your horizontal relationships will eventually get in place,” he stated. “You being on this planet means you’re a winner and there’s a purpose for you, period. Expand your dream and have high expectations for yourself.” He even shared with the youth that in his downtime he studied women and men’s fashion every Saturday for about 3 years for 6-7 hours each time at the library while attending New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology. Perfecting his craft made him well versed to speak on fashion. This in turn helped prepare him for opportunities such as working for Access Hollywood. He also practiced introducing himself in 15 and in 30 seconds to increase his confidence while meeting the big-wigs of NYC. Being in his position isn’t easy, and hopefully the youth are listening to his advice.
Bentley mentioned that he’s been vibing on a new title for his next book. And if it was up for a vote, I think I know what I’d want his next book to be about. The hip hop nation could be the ones to decrease the violence among the young people and to encourage them to be the ones making a difference in their community.
“The biggest pressure in this industry is to not have integrity and lie to get this and that. I’m not motivated by money. There are million-dollar contracts available from alcohol sponsors and I say ‘no thank you’ because I know youth look up to me. There are other ways to make it.” Who needs the alcohol sponsors when you’re a collaborator along with Asher Roth and Ryan Leslie for Pepsi’s Idea Seminar, a program designed to provide local youth with tools and skills to develop ideas that will have a positive impact on their communities. With an EP dropping very soon, along with his manners, confidence, and style, Farnsworth Bentley will do just that: make it.
Follow Farnsworth Bentley through his twitter page @cooloutrageous or through his blog www.therealmrbentley.com.