Meet James Merritt of Deaf Clothing
The story behind Deaf Clothing starts 10 years ago. When I went to college, I was really an introvert. You would only see me out with friends, then i’d be the one that kept to myself. Music is what helped me break out of my shell. I decided to become a DJ. During the same time I made this decision, I became a homeless college student living out of a Motel 6. Half of the time I didn’t know where my next meal would come from. All of my friends were thriving and I was stuck, so I went into hiding to figure out who I was and what my purpose is. One day my friend Fletch asked me what “Deaf” means to me and all I could say was “Don’t Ever Accept Failure”.
When I came back on the scene, I had new energy and focus. Success started to come as a DJ becoming the first official DJ for LSU, signed with a label, club residencies, and join the radio station as On-Air Personality and mix-show DJ. Every show I ended my set with “Don’t Ever Accept Failure”. People started coming up to me telling me how my mantra was helping them in life. It was weird hearing that, but people encouraged me to keep sharing my story. They would even ask if I had shirts for sale. I knew I wanted to expand my portfolio so I got into real estate in Louisiana and Texas which helped investing into my brand. Then I received a call from the Harlem Globetrotters offering me a position to be their DJ/Show Producer. While touring, I worked a silent plan, invested into my personal brand and apparel.
The message behind the name was helping more people than I realized. It wasn’t until a friend messaged me on Instagram one day asking how much money do I owe 50 Cent. He sent me a post from his personal account where he just purchased some jewelry then flips the camera around and he’s wearing one of my shirts saying “Don’t Ever Accept Failure”. I called my business partner and said let’s clean this up. It’s time.
The road has never been smooth. I’ve come across a number of obstacles. Being homeless, losing loved ones, or even relationships that weren’t meant to be. I embrace it all as one because each of them have taught me a lesson that I can apply to my future. My favorite part of struggle is growth. It’s where we gain strength and knowledge. I wouldn’t change any of the hard times for anything.
Deaf Clothing is an alluring vision created for those who have failed at anything in life but refuse to accept it as their last. We aren’t just a company that wants to sell shirts, we want to help inspire. Although we specialize in shirts, we are growing faster than we expected. Our future plans to consist of adding on a line for women, children, and active-wear. We recently just collaborated with Adidas on some of our hats.
There’s plenty of proud moments. The students at my former Jr. High who live by my life mantra, 50 Cent wearing my shirt, the time someone had Don’t Ever Accept Failure tatted on them. I’m honored by it all because it’s not just about me. My Grandmother lost her battle to breast cancer so when we able to collaborate with Women’s Hospital to create a shirt for breast cancer that was powerful.
Our brand is universal and our team is like family, that’s what sets us apart. Everyone has their specific lane, but our lane is everyone’s lane. We can connect with the athlete that everyone counted out as a failure but goes on to win a championship. The man/woman who failed in a relationship but beat the odds and went to accomplish love at it’s highest form. Then we can connect with the kid in grade school, implanting into their mind at an early age that failures come and go but it’s important to embrace the failure and keep following your dreams. That’s what Deaf Clothing is and stands for.
My definition of success is patience and persistence. It’s seeing things differently even when it doesn’t seem possible. Success isn’t easy and it requires you to make decisions that are extremely hard. Changing your circle, mindset, and stepping out fully on faith. That’s true success. When you can tap into being yourself you can truly be successful. Life is about balance. What I may be able to balance, someone else may find it hard to fathom and that’s okay. My mirror of success isn’t theirs.