How Being Still Can Move You Forward
Each month, over on Instagram, I chat one-on-one with talented creative professionals across various industries and communities to engage in uplifting conversations around creativity, entrepreneurship, mental health, and how we can show up in our work as our authentic selves.
Today I want to share highlights from my conversation with Bruce and Glen Proctor, who call themselves, the “Fashion Preachers.” Bruce and Glen are fashion designers and preachers, among many other creative titles, and their career journey is uniquely their own!
After working with celebrity brands for Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, Trey Songz, and Diddy, they re-launched their fashion line, BruceGlen, in 2019 and were recently selected for StitchFix’s Grant & Mentorship Program.
Bruce and Glen are the founders of The Church LA where they inspire and guide others to become the best, most creative, versions of themselves. And somehow the duo also finds time to be on TV and record music.
In this conversation, I chat with Bruce and Glen about how being still can be exactly what we need to move forward.
Lo Harris: Could you start by sharing a bit more about yourselves, your work, and how you all got started?
Bruce Proctor: We’re just two little Black boys from Washington, DC. We've always dreamed big. We always had a huge vision for what our lives could be. Growing up, there was this sense of knowing that we were created for more. Not just more money, but just more in life, more than what we saw around us.
Glen Proctor: We went to a small liberal arts college in Redding, Pennsylvania after high school in Washington DC., and we wound up having to drop out of school between our sophomore and junior year because we could not afford to go back to college.
BP: The great thing was that we got an internship at that same time in New York City, and that's where we began our career in celebrity branding. We worked for House of Dereon interning, and we got a chance to do everything because it was so new. We got a chance to design, do marketing, do production.
GP: We learned a lot really quickly and we wound up transitioning from House of Dereon to American Rag, which is a junior’s brand that’s sold at Macy's, and we were there for about six years but while we were at House of Dereon previously, we met Jeffrey Tweedy, who was the president of Sean John. He connected with us and told us that they were trying to do something new at Sean John and invited us on a series of interviews and critiques of their current line.
BP: This is after four years of working for American Rag. So we were grateful to be in New York City, grateful to have a job. But at the same time, we were also still trying to do our own thing and make our own way. So when we got a call from Jeffrey Tweedy to come work at Sean John, that was like a new light at the end of the tunnel for us.
GP: So we went to Sean John and that led to working with multiple urban celebrity brands, and we met Tommy Hilfiger along the way. He introduced us to Nicki’s people, and we did a project with Nicki Minaj and various projects with Tommy Hilfiger.
BP: We were fortunate enough along the way to have a lot of what we call “haps”-- to be at the right place at the right time. You know, we're walking down the street, we decided to go to Bergdorf Goodman one day just to take a look at the trends because we couldn't afford anything in there. And we went inside. We opened the door and there was Tommy Hilfiger standing there, and we walked around the store and kind of walked around him for a little while and we were like, “Should we talk to him?”
GP: And we finally talked to him and through a series of events, he’s become one of our mentors. And we can still call him or text him or email him today and have dialogue.
LH: Your story is so amazing! 2022 was a massive year for you. I believe it was your first year in Los Angeles and you had a partnership with Stitch Fix, you had New York Fashion Week, you founded The Church. But you recently shared via Instagram that 2022 was a year of slowing down. Why do you believe in the importance of slowing down?
BP: We moved to LA under some really traumatic circumstances for us.
GP: As much as we're going now, it's nothing compared to what we were doing in New York City. We were part of a ministry that literally used and abused us. We were working very hard all the time because we thought that was what we had to do in order to please God. In 2021 we had this earth shattering realization that a lot of the things that we were involved in and that we thought were something were something else and we had to make a real decision to literally change our lives 180 degrees. I always marvel at how different our life is today than it was two years ago in 2021. And I'm so grateful to God that He opened up our eyes to see everything that was behind the scenes. And we made a very dramatic shift to LA and it began our journey of rest.
Although we were moving a lot in 2022, we took a lot of still time and personal time in our hearts and our minds, which I believe opened up the door for so many things that happened for us in 2022.
BP: For 16 years we were ministers at this particular church and along the way, it became so work-oriented, that it wasn't relationship-oriented.
GP: And it became about pleasing people rather than pleasing God. And we didn't understand the difference between the two, that God didn't require all that people were requiring.
BP: So when we got to LA our new journey was to reconnect and to grow that relationship and to really be still. So we start the beginning of our day -- a good one or two hours -- we involve movement, we stretch, we sit on a yoga mat, we pray, we meditate in the presence of God and meditate on a scripture and then we have conversation about the things that God is telling us. And so that part of our day is really important and that was the resting moment. And then also just recognizing and listening to our bodies. Like in the middle of the day, we may be in the middle of emailing and phone calls and Zooms and then we're like, wait, I’m feeling too overwhelmed. We just need to step away from this. Cancel out next call or reschedule it. There's a rooftop pool where we live now. Let's just go to the roof. Let's sit by the pool. Let's just take a moment.
LH: How does meditation impact your creativity?
BP: Some of our meditation is meditating on a particular scripture. And some of our meditating is observing our thoughts. And in the process of observing my thoughts, the Lord, a lot of times, will show me exactly what I was missing in the creative element.
GP: We get direction. What I love most is that you leave with a sense of peace and calm, particularly having been in the presence of God. There are so many things that get you all riled up.
BP: Even the exciting things. If we get good news, it's hard for us to sit down and continue working because now we have all this excited energy.
GP: We know at those points we need to sit down and take time to be still and quiet our hearts, quiet our minds, because it just helps with the rest of the flow throughout the day.
LH: That's totally beautiful. We were on a panel together recently and you talked about your interpretation of Black boy joy. Can you talk a bit more about the relationships that you're trying to build between people and your designs?
GP: We've actually gotten emails from customers who have flat out said, “I was depressed, and I wore your garments, and my mood was completely changed that day because of the amount of compliments, how good I felt, the colors.”
BP: That right there, I mean, that is enough to just be like okay, we can retire.
GP: Really that's our prayer – that our garments would change your life -- as crazy as it might seem to some or sound to some. It’s clothes. It’s fashion. You’re not saving the world here. But that’s what we want.
BP: If Paul can pray for a handkerchief and then send it to a sick body and that handkerchief touches the sick body all of a sudden that person is revived and healed, I believe that, we can do that too with color and in the design process by being intentional and prayerful.
LH: Spirituality is clearly a massive tentpole in your lives. So can you describe how your fashion and spirituality interact with each other?
BP: With our church, The Church -- I guess just because of the industry that we were in and the people that we interact with on a day-to-day basis -- it winds up being a lot of artists and people who are in entertainment.
GP: And usually a group of people who don't feel comfortable at a traditional church. They're looking for a place that will provide community, where they feel safe, where they have people who are like them, their peers who are also artists.
BP: As we’re encouraging other people, we’re encouraging ourselves too and we always encourage people that your dreams, your desires, the art, the gifting that God has placed inside of you -- that is your platform in which God is going to use to change the world. In fact, that is your ministry. What we don't like to do at The Church is busy people with in-church ministry. What we rather do is prepare them for their ministry outside of church in their day-to-day life.
GP: And that preparation looks like teaching people very practical things on how to have a relationship with God.
BP: As we're learning, in our new “be still” journey, different tools and techniques, we’re teaching those things to our church community. We have Be Still Sundays where we have scripture-guided meditation and movement. And we have Conversations Sundays where we have an expert in certain fields.
GP: And we have a hiking service and a poolside service.
BP: We want to service our community in a way that they need. I respect traditional church because it's our foundation, but I just think that the foundation that God has given us through our upbringing in Baptist Church is now just serving as a platform for the new things that He wants to do in the church realm and especially with this new group of artists. Artists, I think, rule the world and are going to push forward the movement of God.
GP: And not in a way that’s preachy and overbearing. But in a way where you're just really shining the light that's inside of you and loving people, unconditionally, in a way that causes people to want to know what's causing that shine and what has made you who you are.
BP: That's the best preaching you can give – to live a life shining in love. Nobody wants to hear you talk about the Bible. They want to see you be it.
LH: I saw that y’all recently had a service for vision casting. What are y'all envisioning and setting goals for this year?
BP: Well, I guess the umbrella word is expansion. A lot of really good things got started for us in 2022. And then even at the top of 2023, a lot of wonderful things have happened.
GP: We'll have a collection on Amazon fashion very soon. We're expanding more into our influencer bag. And then our Fashion Week show is going to be our very first in-person runway show, sponsored by AfterPay, coming in February.
LH: What advice you would give to the young Bruce and Glen?
GP: I would tell my younger self to keep going. We almost hung up the towel so many times.
BP: I remember maybe 3 or 4 years ago we would have to go to White Castle and there was a very nice lady who would save the receipts with the free hamburgers on it for us, and we would go and have to call in and do the survey to get our dinner that night.
LH: Who are some of the designers that have inspired you along the way?
BP: We've always loved Betsey Johnson because she was able to build a brand on being exactly who she is. In the very beginning when we created BruceGlen, it was a version of what we thought people wanted.
GP: It didn't really speak to who we really are as people. So the designers that resonate for us are the designers who you can tell their clothing and design aesthetic is truly an extension of themselves.
BP: We love Christopher John Rogers, all his color, his shapes.
GP: We love Fe Noel.
LH: When you’re authentically yourself your edges grow back, your skin clears up, your body’s hydrated.
GP: And that's when you truly find success because now you're operating in who you were made to be.
Follow Bruce and Glen Proctor’s projects on Instagram @bruceglen @bruceglencollection and @thechurch.la.