BE Modern Man: Meet "Mr. Suit and Tie" Gerard Kersey - Black Enterprise

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Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

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Name: Gerard Kersey

Profession: Entrepreneur/ Philanthropist

Age: 44

One Word That Describes You: Passionate

As a manager at the Department of Motor Vehicles in New York, Gerard Kasey has seen men come in for interviews that were qualified, but unprepared. That Suits You, a nonprofit organization that gives professional attire to men for prom, graduation, and work, is now addressing this issue. With his brother on his team, TSY has grown its efforts into a full scale organization, including a board of advisors and a network of partner organizations throughout New York City and across the country, helping to equip men with the attire they need to succeed.

Every day qualified men are turned down by employers, solely because they come into an interview without the proper clothing. Tired of seeing this happen, Kersey decided to do something about it. “This really bothered me because there is not a lack of clothing in America, but so many men lack access to clothing and it hinders them from gaining employment, and supporting their families,” Kersey tells BE Modern Man. “Without access to jobs, some of these men may enter into criminal activity to survive and put food on the table. I was blessed to enter into this field,” says Kersey. “There are many options for women but very few for men. One of the obstacles we have faced has been finding adequate space to store suits. Location is very expensive in NYC, but we have been fortunate and very creative with what we have. We are always looking for more space as well. But as a nonprofit, price is a huge consideration.”

Starting a nonprofit organization is no easy task. Basic startup costs are critical, but support from the community and getting them to buy into the vision is paramount. “Many people were very supportive, and I believe the ones I needed to be in my life were there,” says Kersey. “They spoke words of encouragement and support, and went above and beyond to help the vision come to pass. Others took more of a wait-and- see approach. I appreciate everyone who supported and everyone that didn’t support, because both were needed in teaching valuable lessons. Never shying away from the word “no,” Kersey and his team beat the pavement in search of space, suits, and support.

In addition to providing men with suits, TSY holds workshops where they train and prepare men for the business world, promotions, and entrepreneurship. Kersey firmly believes that the men he sees day after day, who get rejected for positions that they are qualified for, carry key tenets to succeed. “It is in us to be aggressive and go after our goals,” Kersey tells BE Modern Man. “That aggression is definitely needed to attack dreams, goals and, ultimately, success. But this aggressiveness is sometimes channeled in the wrong areas, which lead to stereotypes and misunderstandings. I believe with proper leadership and training, which we provide at TSY, men can channel their strength in a productive way.

Read more about who Kersey credits with helping him build That Suits You…

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