Up-and-Coming Black Entrepreneurs: Robert Rhodes

Small businesses are extremely important. They create jobs and provide goods and services to their communities. They are over 5 million employer firms in the United States. Yet, only about 134,567 of them are black-owned. This has widespread effects because business ownership is a very common and reliable source of family wealth. In 2019 The Federal Reserve found that business ownership represented 34% of nonfinancial assets. However, starting a business can be challenging, so I interviewed Robert Rhodes, the owner of a new clothing brand to learn more.

Who Are You?

My name is Robert Rhodes. I’m an Accounting major at Florida Atlantic University from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

What is Your Business?

I have a clothing brand called R-Squared Collection

When Did You Get Started?

We started in 2019. And we started this with, this regular stuff, but we got our LLC in 2020. So, yes, R-Squared Collection is a clothing brand. And R-Squared just stands for my name, my initials [RR].

From the R-Squared Collection.
What Inspired You to Start?

Well, it’s kind of funny because when I started R-Squared Collection I just wanted something for me. So, I would say back in high school, they used to call me “one and only Robert Rhodes.” I was like, “Oh, Hey!” so I made a shirt called One and Only. And I was talking to the designer, and she was like “oh, you should, you know, see if anybody else wants the shirt.” So, when I found out, [I said] maybe I could just ask people, “Oh, hey, guys want a shirt from my designer?” and I was making a brand.

So, I made a brand, and we started up on “One and Only.” We had T-shirts and hoodies. That was it. That’s all you could get. And then I asked me, starting once I got the name, R-Squared Collection and the LLC going. That’s when we really started with, you know, the R-Squared Collection merch, with other sweatpants, hoodies, T-shirts, your name it.

Did You Have People Helping You Along the Way?

I would say I had some people helping me along the way, when it came to, “Should we do this color? Should we do this design? Which one looks good?” But other than that, I would say that it’s only been my money. I am the only one that’s funding this as of right now. So, I would say that funding wise it’s only me. But when it comes to asking people for an opinion, then it’s more than me. And especially with my social media team, my social media person, he’s good. He does a great job with advertising.

What is Something That You’ve Learned Since You Started?

I would say that you have to take time for it. You have to take time. And you just have to know what you’re doing basically. Because once there’s time, once there’s some type of funding, some sort of money into it, you have to have a foundation. I would say the biggest thing is a foundation. Because you can’t just make clothes and then not know why you’re making it or what you’re making it for. You have to have a message. So, my message, when I look at my foundation, is “Be Bold.”

So, I saw that with, the stuff that I come out with, that I present, the stuff that we make, all the designs, it’s going to be a bold message behind it. It’s words or pictures [are] going to be bold. And you can tell, our fonts that we use, they’re also like sharp. So, that’s also a key thing. Because you can do bubble letters, but, that wouldn’t be bold. But if you like, more sharp letters, a better font, you’ll see that boldness too. You’ll see that “Oh, this is different. It’s not just something you just throw on.” It’s R-Squared, you know? It’s R-squared.

What is The Most Difficult Part of Running Your Business?

I would say the most difficult part is probably that outreach, because there’s a lot of people in the world, and there’s millions of people just in states, in one country alone. But it’s all about your audience; you have to know who you’re targeting when you’re doing this. Because I can go out, I can go out to a college campus or whatever, and be like “Oh, yeah you guys! Oh, buy it!” Hey, guys, support me!” And then you got support. They’ll probably follow the Instagram page. But they’re not gonna buy – they probably won’t buy anything at all. They might look at it and say it’s cool and keep on going with their day.

So, you need to talk to your audience and know who you’re going for. Go for people that you know would be interested in buying. Because people, they’ll look at it now. They’ll follow, they’ll support. But are you getting a sale out of them? Or are they just looking? So, the outreach is big. It’s really important, and knowing your audience is important.

And I would say one more thing is just staying committed. Because let’s say you want to do something on a monthly scale basis. Or you’re like, “okay, I want to be here at some milestone in three months.” And then say, you don’t perform that. You’re gonna say, “Oh, well, is it me messing up? Am I putting in the effort? I got to figure out why I’m not performing as well in a three-month time span.” You have to figure out how you could change. So, you can hit it in probably the next three-month time span. It’s seasonal.  

What is Your Favorite Part of Running Your Business?

My favorite part is designing and trying to put a message or a design on a shirt that people relate to. Because there’s a lot of people that they’ll look at a shirt and be like, “Okay, I understand. This is amazing. And the message behind it, I love the message behind it.” You’ll see an attachment to the design or the clothing. And it’s like, “Wow!” and they love it. It’s especially good when you have a message behind it, and they come, and it looks good. They’ll say, “Whoa! This is what I want, this is what I need.”

And I feel like if you perform that message and put it in a good way, that’s the best part. Because not only do you like what you’re creating, other people like it too, and it’s for the right reasons. So, I feel like that’s the most favorite part. It’s seeing pure reactions to our clothing, and they get that message when they wear it, or when they see it. Like they understand. They say “Oh, okay, this is it!”

What is Your Advice For Other People Who are Thinking About Starting a Business?

The first thing I would say is, before you even get into the legal aspect, you have to write down the foundation like I said earlier. Because if you don’t have that foundation, starting any business will not go right, because you need to know what you’re doing it for, how you’re going to do it, who are you doing it for. So you know that it will succeed properly.

Because if you start a business, now let’s say you name it, XYZ clothing, and then you make it, people ask “Oh, why is it called XYZ?” And you say, “Oh, I don’t know, I just named it that just because.” And then, you’re saying, “Oh, no I why didn’t I name it ABC?” And it’s too late, it’ll be too late to name it ABC, because you already called it XYZ. So, I feel as though you have to know what you’re doing, and just write everything down.

Make sure you’re brainstorming all your ideas, but be prepared for the seasons that come up. If you want to drop a certain color like brown – because I did that. It’s called The Evolution of Man shirt. I planned on it in the summer, and I dropped it in the fall, because brown is a fall color. So, plan for the future and stay organized, and don’t cram something fast. You have to plan it out. Planning it out, knowing the foundation, knowing your audience, knowing your message, all that will be tied together to make a successful brand. Stay committed to it, because it does get hard.


Black-owned businesses are essential for the community’s growth economically. The jobs, goods and services that they provide has a profound effect. The rarity of black-owned business in comparison to other racial groups highlights the need to support and invest in black-owned business.

R-Squared Collection Website

To view Robert Rhodes’ creations and support this young black entrepreneur, click here: R-Squared Collection.

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