“Wish for others what you wish for yourself.”
Larry Alebiosu is a man that truly believes this when he says it. Alebiosu was born and raised in a small town – Ilara-Mokin – Nigeria in West Africa. He is the 13th child of 18 children. His father had nine wives and of those 18 children, eight of them were born from his mother.
Dreaming of coming to the United States of America, he immigrated in 1982 and attended college at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. Within the next five years he met his wife Vivian, married her and received his Bachelor’s Degree from WMU. Upon moving to Detroit, Alebiosu worked in the telecommunications industry from 1987 – 1990. In 1989, he decided to invest in a clothing business. He met with a potential partner that had an existing clothing store, Rubinos of Italy, located in Southfield, Michigan. There was an excitement about the partnership until he saw the accounting books. The bank was owed money and threatened to seize the merchandise.
Immediately a decision was made by Alebiosu to withdraw his interest and wait until the bank took over the merchandise.
With the financial assistance of Alebiosu’s uncle in Nigeria, Chief Michael Ad-Ojo, he was able to purchase $160,000 worth of merchandise for $50,000. The bank deal was good on paper, but because of his inexperience, the good deal became a nightmare. The inventory was out of season, out of style, outdated and almost worthless. Alebiosu was stuck.
To make this venture work, he had to put his thinking cap on. It was time to convince his uncle to invest more money to purchase updated, current merchandise. Alebiosu was determined to not go out of business before his business began.
"Fashion International would not exist if not for the customers."
Launching Fashion International in a 600-square foot location on Nine Mile Road in Southfield, Michigan from 1989-1993."Always crawl before you walk." This is great advice from Alebiosu as he took Fashion International toward one distinct market with the ideology to take a micro-marketing approach. Take a specific market, specific category, particular season and focus only on that distinct group for a period of time.
Beginning on the first day of this venture, the up-scale African American male clothing market was his focus. Alebiosu took the yellow pages out and began calling every male that had their photograph with their advertisement. His pitch was to introduce his new business, ask for an appointment to meet with them at any location convenient for the customer and show them his merchandise.
He made 100 telephone calls per day to insurance agents, lawyers, realtors, car dealers, doctors, pastors, etc. Alebiosu also visited functions or places where any of these groups socialized. Within 90 days Fashion International made a leaping start.
In 1993, Fashion International opened a second location at 15162 W. Ten Mile Road in Southfield. He grew his company to a 1,950 square foot store front location which also includes his offices and a tailor facility.
Within the past few years Fashion International has seen a growth of 25% per year. The market has broadened from local to regional to national, and finally to an international base. Growth was also seen in multiple areas including: physical, mental and professional.
Alebiosu has always put his customers first. "Fashion International would not exist if not for the customers." The reason for the growth is due to Fashion International’s philosophy – their customers are #1 and #2 and #3, with employees being #4 and the owner #5. It was that way in 1993 and still is today.
"You should not call yourself a specialty retailer if you cannot make your customer feel special every time." Today, we have extended our business to creating, designing, and customizing clothing, shoes and accessories for people of all sizes, ages and professions. Securing an exclusive spot in this market selling fast turnover in custom, quality goods. "We can make a custom, quality dress shirt in 24 hours and a custom, quality suit in 48 hours; Fashion International is absolutely the only one who can deliver this in North America."
Everyone should love what they do, Alebiosu certainly does and that is why he continues to be Fashion International’s dynamic Chairman and CEO. He shows the love of his job in everything he does and how he assists his customers in feeling special when wearing his garments.
Through the years, Alebiosu has designed apparel for big names in the NBA and NFL, pastors, lawyers, doctors and larger-sized customers who either can’t wear or don’t want to wear off-the-rack clothing. If you want to look and feel special, be seen as a unique individual and receive multiple compliments, then you must visit Fashion International. This is where you will experience the true meaning of specialty apparel – it’s Larry Alebiosu’s philosophy.
Fashion International has an outstanding team to complete every fashion need of the customer.
Terry - Sales. Upon meeting Terry, you will personally see that he has lots of charisma and energy. With over 30 years in men’s clothing, he will personally assist the customer in a noteworthy direction to express their individuality.
Akil - Tailor. Fashion International prides itself with an in-house tailor that has 45 years of experience in the field. Akil is a hardworking tailor that focuses on high quality, high fashion and high design.