Marcus Noel: Heart of Man
September 21, 2014 at 4:26 pm
Our education system is broken. Classrooms are under-resourced, students are under-developed, and the outcomes aren’t where they should be. But don’t talk to Marcus Noel about problems. He deals in solutions.
Marcus is on a mission. The StartingBloc, Education Pioneer,and ProInspire alum exudes a love for education that has taken him from Wall Street to the starting his own enterprise, Heart of Man, which seeks to give students the resources and education to help them create their own lives. If that’s not enough, he’s also working on Obama’s ConnectED Initiative, bringing digital learning to all students across America. Dedication is in his DNA.
I got a chance to chop it up with Marcus and see what Heart of Man’s true purpose is for the community, the lessons he has learned along the way, and what the future looks like. Check out my interview below to hear more about how Marcus built his business.
What is Heart of Man?
Heart of Man is a clothing and accessory brand designed to transform the way socially conscious consumers shop. Every product we launch into the world is designed by students to help fund, educate and propel students in underserved communities to succeed in life. Every product is designed to bring the ideas of inner-city students to life and use entrepreneurship to jumpstart their education.
Specifically, HoM teaches students entrepreneurship and design. For each item sold, a percentage of profits are donated to the students’ scholarship fund to help them fulfill their life potential.
Who is Marcus Noel?
God fearing. Passionate. Tenacious. Creative. Relentless. Courageous.
What inspired you to create Heart of Man?
Roughly 2 million students drop out of high school annually, that’s about 30% of our US students. Most of those students are African American and Latino, living in at-risk communities.
To some these may seem like rhetorical statistics, but for me this hits close to my heart. I am my family’s first college graduate and I am passionate about educating students in need because I have seen the negative affects up-close and personal.
Growing up in my community I have seen family members, friends, and other loved ones incarcerated, controlled by drugs, victims and participants of violence, poverty stricken by teen pregnancy. These are the outcomes that plague high school dropouts. The Achievement Gap has been a pressing problem of growing concern amongst educators, policymakers and civic leaders. Here’s what we believe:
1. The problem does not end in the classroom and has become a challenge rooted deeply in the motivation of the student.
2. Traditional educational curriculum lacks a way to incentivize students to become passionate about learning.
3. Students living in inner‐city environments affected by the achievement gap cannot achieve success because they cannot yet imagine what success looks and feels like. If we educate students on the fundamentals of design thinking and entrepreneurship, they will be empowered to create and produce for themselves.
Heart of Man is teaching students entrepreneurship and design which will propel them to create lives for themselves. Our students are gaining real life skills. I firmly believe that entrepreneurship should be taught in K-12 classrooms.
How is Heart of Man impacting the community?
Heart of Man is teaching students entrepreneurship and design which will propel them to create lives for themselves Our students are gaining real life skills. I firmly believe that entrepreneurship should be taught in K-12 classrooms.
Our primary focuses are:
- Teaching students character building and leadership.
- Instilling the confidence to create, lead, and impact others with defined purpose.
- Introduce new concepts and new learning environments to the students.
- Exploring their own gifts and talents to create their own pathways to success.
- Challenging students to solve real world problems and to exceed societal expectations.
- Have a firm understanding of grit, perseverance, and rigor which is needed to become successful in the real world
You have a finance background that’s pretty impressive, how has that helped you develop HoM?
My background in finance specifically has helped out a lot. I started out at Morehouse as a psychology major because I’ve always had this great desire for human behavior and people, so you know, that’s the gut of who I am. I love people and I want to help. So that’s why I love psychology and then I was kind of pigeon holed and told I should go do something that’s more practical when you come out of school. So finance was one of the hardest business majors and I knew I could create inroads to maybe a wall street job and I did, so that’s kind of how I ended up with finance.
I didn’t really see the purpose when I was in finance, it was hard for me to find it. Now that I’ve started my brand, literally everything is coming back full circle. I recently was in New York and did a investment banking training for this part time company I consult for and I’m learning and I’m sitting here looking at the retail industry and looking at the numbers in industry terms and watching mergers and acquisitions between large companies and balance sheets and income statement. Basically everything as it takes to create a sustainable business, I’ve been exposed to through the business world.
I feel like everyone says that they are creative, but everyone doesn’t create for sustainability . I’m challenging myself with is growing a set of rudimentary skills, to create a vision of sustainability not just for public lights.
What’s one of the greatest lessons that you have learned so far on your journey?
Everybody is not going to like everything that you do but you must go on.
Fonzworth Bentley is one of your mentors. What’s the story?
We actually met at a PR event in New York, where I connected with his cousin. I was just talking to his cousin, I was telling her that I was interested and I would just love to sit down to talk to him, I have always looked up to him as a style icon. Him, Pharrell, Andre 3000 and Mos Def those were pretty much my guys growing up. I really enjoyed their sense of style. So I was just at this PR event in New York and he and I connected. This is back when I was still working at J.P. Morgan and I was just telling him that it wasn’t my passion anymore. I want to do something creative. He told me to have courage and go do what you love to do. So I did that and I designed my first collection of 21 pieces when I was in Chicago. We have a brotherly relationship at this point.
What’s one gem of wisdom that you have learned from him that has stuck with you?
“Remain connected to your inexhaustible resource.” – Derrick “Bentley” Watkins
What’s your vision for Heart of Man five years from now?
So five years from now from a brand perspective I would love to have ‘heart of man’ partner with a fashion retailer, like a popular fashion retailer that can kind of use us as the social arm, cause I really value the strategic partnership element. And on the education and non-profit side I would want to have the ‘heart of man’ program scaled out nationally in most schools in America, because I believe in teaching students entrepreneurship in K-12 education as opposed to college or post college. That’s what this is about. Its about fueling the next generation. That’s what Heart of Man is about.
What events or projects do you have coming up that our readers should look out for?
We just launched in stores in April in DC so we plan to rev up this fall, and release our new product and new student group this winter.. So I want to put that on the minds of individuals. We haven’t set a time yet but I’m thinking it’s around holiday time.
Marcus Noel is about impacting the education industry at a massive scale. When you find your purpose, you never look at work the same way again. Marcus has his, and it’s taking him to new heights and setting him up to impact an entire generation. He’s too focused to fail.
Stay tuned to Heart of Man and Marcus by hitting them up online!