…This a time for us as business owners to use our networks, and skill sets to collaboratively work together and change the world in addition to our efforts to be successful entrepreneurs. We decided early on to create PPE especially knowing that there was an obvious and immediate need for an item that we could easily create . When the local leaders begin to loudly express the shortage of PPE we knew we could help alleviate the local shortage.
I had the pleasure to interview Sharene Wood. Sharene wears many hats as a woman on the go! She is President & CEO of 5001 FLAVORS , Harlem Haberdashery and HH Bespoke Spirits. Sharene is responsible for all administrative and organizational duties of the company. Her keen business sense and love of fashion make her a perfect manager and integral part of the company. She also contributes greatly in the company’s client relationship building efforts.
Sharene is a philanthropist supporting Boys & Girls Club of Harlem, Food Bank of New York, NYC Health & Hospitals/Harlem (formerly Harlem Hospital Center) and #TakeCareofHarlem. She is the Board Chair for Black Women For Black Girls and #TakeCareOfHarlem. Sharene has been honored by Council Member Inez E. Dickens and Sylvia & Herbert WoodScholarship Foundation (along with her husband Guy).
Sharene is a native New Yorker — born and raised in Harlem. Sharene is a proud graduate of Columbia University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology. She is an active Prep For Prep Alum. Sharene resides in New Jersey with her family.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Sharene! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?
I was born and raised in Harlem. Went to elementary school PS 200, admitted to Prep For Prep while a student there and completed my middle school and high school education at Riverdale Country School. I love New York so much and didn’t want to leave.. stayed in NYC for school… Graduated from Columbia University in 1994 with a BA in Sociology. I was an only child for 12 years and then my brother was born.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide To Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz
The book sets forth a set of transformative agreements made with yourself, God and life that help you achieve self defined happiness, love and success . This book inspired me by making me establish very definitive and purpose driven parameters about life, love, success and relationships — business and personal .
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?
“For of those to whom much is given much is required.” — John F Kennedy
Or the original Biblical version
For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.
Luke 12:48, New King James Version
Altruism, philanthropy, love for fellow humankind and social responsibility should be embedded in every fiber of every human being. The alignment of so many lives, chance circumstances — both good and bad, miracles and meetups that had to happen so every one of us could exist is in itself miraculous. We owe each other compassion, help, solutions, opportunities and a hand up to help erase all types of disparities and injustices.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. You are currently leading a social impact organization that has stepped up during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Can you tell us a bit about what you and your organization are trying to address?
We are used to sourcing specialty and exquisite fabrics for use in manufacturing designs for our retail store Harlem Haberdashery and to use for Customer clothing orders for our celebrity clientele at 5001 FLAVORS. We decided that we would use our design intelligence, industry know how and expansive manufacturing contacts to help during this international pandemic. Healthcare and essential workers are now the heroes and influencers that we want to help by making much-needed and life-saving personal protective wear. Now safety is our priority instead of fashion.
Harlem Haberdashery, it’s parent company 5001 FLAVORS and #TakeCareOfHarlem, the philanthropic arm of Harlem Haberdashery, and The .Dott NYC, our manufacturing consultant, decided to partner up, solicit donations and produce PPE spunbound non-woven polypropylene (medical grade) masks and gowns to donate to several community organizations.
Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. We just don’t get up and do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?
Realizing that this international and human tragedy further showcased vast disparities between us as global and national citizens. Government systems are more concerned with the politicalization of everything and are leading without true compassion for the people they serve.
At Harlem Haberdashery and through our 501c3 organization #TakeCareOfHarlem, we have also practiced philanthropy through our various drives aimed to preserve and uplift our community — our #CoolForSchool school supply, our Annual #ToyAndElectronic Drive for the Holidays and #GreenerLenox in conjunction with The League which is a community sustainability and beautification project . We are committed to combining philanthropy into our corporate culture of fashion and lifestyle.
This a time for us as business owners to use our networks, skill sets and to collaboratively work together and change the world in addition to our efforts to be successful entrepreneurs. We decided early on to create PPE especially knowing that there was an obvious and immediate need for an item that we could easily create . When the local leaders begin to loudly express the shortage of PPE we knew we could help alleviate the local shortage.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
Nicole and Omar Sanders from Downington, PA generously donated PPE to the Neurology Dept at Mt. Sinai West. The donation was in recognition for the great care their son, Shawn Sanders, received during a recent stay for brain surgery the initial week of the COVID 19 pandemic. The donation was so impactful because the Sanders family wanted to protect the lives of the doctors that just helped their son. That’s the type of care, concern and compassion for your fellow human that we need to make it through this international pandemic.
Are there three things that the community can do to help you in your great work?
- Kindly continue to donate to Harlem Haberdashery’s effort to keep making and donating PPE to our frontline workers. Inquiries can be sent to info@HarlemHaberdashery.com.
- Follow me @ShaySWood and @HaberdasheryNYC and share our efforts by reposting our posts on social media.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
- Save 4x the money any expert says you need. When no income is coming in you will deplete you’re savings quicker than you think.
- Think about three new ways to expand your business annually .Whether if it’s how to engage a new segment of customers or an additional product / service.. you have to keep evolving and diversifying your self. How you start is not how you finish .
- That you need many support networks to have a business. One network that supports and enriched your employees and support staff. Another network that enriches and supports you as a entrepreneur. And yet another network that enriches and supports your personal goals and aspirations.
- Working smarter not harder is best. As a business person it’s okay if you do not handle every task in your business. Delegation, outsourcing key tasks to third part vendors and a strong support staff help make you a better entrepreneur.
- Self care is just as important as being a strong day to day operator. Scheduled days offs, vacations and family time are just as important to book and safeguard in your calendar as client meetings and other job responsibilities.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
My personal goal is to make this world a better place. As a Mom I want the best for my children and for all future generations. As a business entrepreneur, I want to build a successful transferable business. All are equally important.
I want my legacy to be that I built something , that I was focused and successful, that I inspired others to do the same in their own areas of specialty and knowledge. Leave your mark. Do great things that allow people to say your name long after you have left this Earth.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with Robert Frederick Smith, businessman, philanthropist, and Founder / Chairman / CEO of private equity firm Vista Equity Partners. I am inspired by his business model of combining successful profitable enterprise with his obvious commitment to global philanthropy . He is a fellow alum of Columbia University (Columbia Business School) and we were on campus at the same time in the early nineties (me as an Undergraduate at Columbia College) . I would love to talk business strategy, scaling, hear his personal story and discuss our mutual commitment to philanthropy and additional ways to build our communities up for future generations.