Style Profile: Howard Wicker , The Sharp Dressed Man Behind The Mentoring Academy
A Life Suited is more than just a tongue & cheek play on words , the title itself is a representation of what a man sets out to do the moment he becomes aware of himself and his needs. He seeks to build a life suited for himself, and sets out on a path to do so. Often at times the wrong choices made can lead one down a path in the wrong direction, that would make life less suitable for themselves and those around them. Today’s style profile is dedicated to Howard Wicker, a man whose sole mission is to get men back on the right path.
Howard is the Program Manager for Patrick Allison House inc. and the director of The Ex-Offender Mentoring Academy and Training Center through Living Classrooms Foundation , a non-profit dedicated to fighting recidivism amongst male ex-offenders returning home after being released back into society. Which he founded in August of 2012 after receiving a grant from the state of Maryland for $1Million. The Academy is tucked quietly away in Baltimore City’s Mt. Vernon neighborhood. Part of keeping these men out of prison is ensuring that they are able to have employment so that they are financially independent. This can be a difficult thing to achieve when being released back into society with virtually nothing and no support system. Howard through The Mentoring Academy working hand in hand with Sharp Dressed Man, a non-profit set up by Christopher Schafer through The Baltimore Fashion Alliance seeks to help these men overcome that first hurdle by providing them with donated business attire to wear to job interviews. Today Mr. Wicker gives us an inside look into the program and what drives his own personal style.
Top : Christopher Rondo of CSC with members of The Mentoring Academy
Below: The members of The Mentoring Academy after visiting the Sharp Dressed Man Boutique
DC King: What inspired you to create The Mentoring Academy ?
HW: Something in me just wants to help people , I don’t know what to call it , but I do know where it comes from (GOD).. And the need to help men coming home from jail is big. More importantly is the need to help them not to go back. Did you know that over 50% of the people in Baltimore who come home from jail go back to jail.. Unbelievable
DC King: What inspired you to include the Sharp Dressed Man Boutique as a part of The Mentoring Academy?
HW : I love fashion , it was my dream to be a fashion designer. I was actually accepted and attended Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington D.C. But I chose the “Street Life” instead. But I was always into style and fashion from a very young age. So the Sharp Dressed Man Boutique just compliments my personality , so it’s my personal touch on the Ex-Offenders Mentoring Academy and Training Center thanks to Chris (Schafer), Rondo and Yourself.
DC King: Why do you think teaching men to have pride in their personal appearance, is a key component in helping to fight recidivism?
HW: What we are attempting to do is to remove the stereotype and the “label” ex-offender. Society has given the ex-offender a “look”. A well dressed man NEVER comes off looking like a ex-offender ……
DC King: How would you describe your own personal style?
HW: Classic with a twist of Swag…
DC KIng: Do you have a style icon, time period in history or favorite designer that you draw your inspiration?
HW: I am a Ralph Lauren baby. I grew up wearing the man on the horse on everything. But Ralph Lauren is bigger then Polo. I like “Purple Label” / “Black Label” / “Denim Supply” / “Rugby” ..I could continue , Yes I am truly a fan a Ralph…
DC King:Name 4 items that you can’t do without ?
HW: My GOD
My TAG watches
DC King: Lastly… What impact do you hope to see The Mentoring Academy make here in Baltimore City?
HW: It is already making a difference , in 4 months since we opened we have already enrolled over 75 men. All have been given the opportunity to meet true fashion designers. Not only meet them , but to be personally measured for a suit. I have talked to guys in the Academy that have cried once they put the suit on and saw how they looked in the suit. I hope we are bringing hope back to the city of Baltimore ” One Suit At a Time” … Thanks to the Sharp Dressed Man Boutique
If you are interested in providing donations to the Sharp Dressed Man program, go to http://www.sharpdressedman.org. Or if you are interested in finding out more about The Mentoring academy contact Howard Wicker at firstname.lastname@example.org.