Micheal and Tatiana Parker from Little Rock, Arkansas reveal how an unexpected cancer diagnosis inspired them to take swift action to create a sustainable family legacy.
Tatiana Parker said to her husband, Micheal Parker, merely 24 hours after he had his right kidney removed, “Get up and get moving.” He was in so much pain he could barely walk after his surgery. Michael knew, as well, that if he didn’t get up, he would leave his wife, teammate, and business partner to handle their daughters alone.
“We all [are] going to go through something in life. If you get knocked down 7 [times], you gotta get up 8 [times],” Micheal stated.
He had been diagnosed with adenocarcinoma, a form of cancer that attacks kidneys, in April 2019. He was just 39 years old at the time. The Parkers never expected to face such a challenge in their lives so soon. However, the month-long recovery process provided the Parkers with a chance to reconsider what was most important.
Michael had been using the hashtag “watch for the hook” for years, and it had developed a following on social media. The visionary team figured they could turn their captive audience into an actual money-making venture with a little research. Following a couple of trademark filings and LLCs, the Parkers launched Watch4theHook.com – an apparel line centered around Micheal’s inspirational phrase.
In boxing, ‘the hook’ can be so devastating because you are unaware that the punch is coming, Micheal told Arkansas Black Business Directory, “It catches you off guard.”
Even though cancer caught the Parker family off guard, they quickly realized a couple of things. In the first place, they understood that any business they invested their time, money, and energy into had to leave a lasting legacy for their children and their community. In addition to launching Watch4theHook, the Parker family unified around the idea that their three daughters should be exposed to entrepreneurship early. They were intentional about involving the children in the business itself so that later they could add their talents to it.
“I want [the children] to see more, to be exposed to more sooner,” Tatiana explained, “I wasn’t exposed to website management and vendor management when I was growing up. I wasn’t able to see how to do taxes and tax IDs…So, I’m making sure our girls can see it super early on.”
The Parkers strongly believe preparing the next generation makes the difference between black businesses that last and black businesses that eventually get swallowed up.
“I grew up across the street from an HBCU and a lot of black-owned businesses. At the time, I didn’t even realize the significance as a youngster,” Micheal recalled. “Also in my neighborhood, there was a black-owned barber shop and beauty shop, a black-owned grocery store, and there was a black-owned daycare within two blocks of my house.” Micheal realized as he got older that those elders were the forward-thinking forerunners of the community at that time. “I go back to the old neighborhood now and none of those businesses are there anymore.”
Micheal felt it best to learn from those who came before him and do even better. The Parkers credit a recent session with their graphic designer, Maya Gray of Day Dream Design Firm, with helping them identify the next steps to making a lasting impression in the market.
“Maya made us realize [we] had an apparel line but [we] don’t have a brand,” Micheal said. “Now we’re in the [process] of making Watch4theHook a known brand.”
The strategic evolution of the way they do business presents its own obstacles but the Parkers’ end goal is within view.
“You get on the same page [when] the commonality is there,” Tatiana began, “If you don’t believe in the message you’re trying to convey, they’re not going to believe it either.”
In addition to the care put into small details like fabric, design, and packaging, ultimately, it’s the Parkers’ message of perseverance that sets them apart.
Michael stated, “Life is a battle. People go through wars and battles every day and you can see right now people are tired, “but I tell [my wife] constantly, we don’t get the luxury of tapping out.” Click the link below to order your watch4thehook apparel. For more information, visit Watch4TheHook.com.
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