A few weeks ago, we had a conversation with Author, Model, Entrepreneur, and Philanthropist, Donvinnie Boykin.
Originally from Humboldt, TN, Donvinnie discovered his love of the fashion industry while attending the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. After his first photoshoot, he then transferred to Bauder College of Fashion and Design in Atlanta, GA where he majored in Fashion Merchandising.
Mr. Boykin was signed with Ralph Lauren as a fashion model and has also produced several fashion shows.
Donvinnie shares his experience as a Ralph Lauren model:
"That was an amazing experience. At the time, I was in college and I was around nineteen or twenty-years-old. I went to the audition, and I didn’t know what to expect. I went in, and the casting directors asked me to walk. And, I walk how I normally walk. I didn’t know if it was how professional models walked. All I can remember was the eyes staring at me, and I could just feel the judgment. Like, they were ripping me apart in their head. As soon as I did my audition, I walked out, and then I was called back in when casting directors said they wanted Donnie back in the room. When I came back in, they told me they liked the way I looked, they liked the way I smiled, my presence. Through Ralph Lauren, I was able to travel overseas to Europe and model in Europe Fashion week. I remember my closet overflowing with clothes, which is a great aspect of being a model. My experience taught me behind the scenes of fashion and this is where my creativity started to flourish when I would get on set, and I would see the Creative Director giving direction and telling the models how to move, or even just the concept of coming up with photoshoots. My experience with Ralph Lauren, helped me get into fashion show production as well as being a Creative Director."
= Donvinnie Boykin
Donvinnie also spoke about his project Beyond The Mask which is a men’s empowerment campaign to empower men to take off their masks and see who they truly are. Not only physically, but also emotionally.
Lastly, he shared with us about the book he released in December 2020 titled The R.E.V.E.A.L. The Year Without My Dad ( Realizations, Emotions, Vulnerability, Alienated, Enraged and Loved ) which is about coping with the year without his dad who died back in 2019, and how throughout the year, he wore a mask because he didn’t want people to see a successful black man, who’s in the industry, not wanting to miss out on any opportunities.
He goes on to talk about how in the African-American culture - specifically -
“African-American men are taught at an early age not to be vulnerable or show emotion when it comes to how we’re feeling.”
- Donvinnie Boykin
Donnvinnie's hope for his book is to show people that they can do anything.
You can purchase a copy of his book on both Amazon and his website.
His advice for someone wanting to start a career in the fashion industry is to be humble, have tough skin, and be sure to have a solid foundation.
Check out the video below, to view the remainder of our conversation.