A clothing manufacturer from sunny California, 27-year-old James belied his laid-back surfer hairstyle by showing creativity and talent at whatever Tommy Hilfiger threw his way. Heck, at one of Mr. Hilfigerís industry parties he networked so well he was offered a job on the spot. So it was a surprise to find him cut from the competition at this stage of the game. In this interview, he discusses what he was up against in the final task, and tells us who he found to be the most annoying person he has ever met.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions, James. First off, what was your strategy was coming into the game?
Your welcome! It is my pleasure to conduct this interview.
Well, I didn't really have much of a strategy when going into this game...I believed that the one who truly had the most talent would win. I didn't want to win by trickery or backstabbing, that is not how I operate. I just wanted to do my best, showcase my talents, and have fun.
What did you hope to gain from being in this competition?
Ultimately, I hoped to do my own collection under the TH label, but I knew that even if I didn't win I would benefit from the exposure and probably make some contacts/great friends.
You seemed to be doing what Tommy wanted in the gallery competition, taking a leadership role and showing your creativity. At what point did you realize you might be in danger of elimination?
I never thought I was in danger of being eliminated. The ultimate goal in this assignment was who ever made the most money won. We were forced to compromise our "vision" to just get our doors open and to conduct business. If I was not there that store would never have opened.
What do you think Tommy Hilfiger is looking for? Because to viewers, itís not clear.
To be honest, I have no clue! Obviously, he likes guys who abandon their team, make fools of themselves, and are self absorbed.
What did you think of Jeff sticking his head in and mouthing off?
I think Jeff is by far one of the most annoying individuals I have ever met. But, damn he is fun (maybe more painful than fun) to watch.
Looking back at all the challenges, which one are you most proud of?
I am really proud of the all the assignments....really. I would have been more proud of some if I was able to execute them purely on my own accord. But, since these are all team collaborations you really need the majority of your group on board....so things end up getting compromised. If I had to pick one I would say that putting up the billboard was really a rewarding experience.
Do you think it hurt you to be short staffed in the last challenge?
Absolutely! "Comme Undone" opened 4 - 5 hours earlier than we did and they only outsold us by $ 200. You do the math.
What did you think of the other team's shop?
I think the other teamís shop was great. Think about it (and I say this on the show): Deanna managed a store; Wes owns a store that specializes in reconstructed clothing; Rob makes t-shirts; Chris C. makes hats; and Jeff - well..........ur.............I don't know what Jeff does. Oh, wait! He is the sacrificial-lamb-slash-good-luck-charm. So, basically the other team had more man power, they used a contractor, and they had more experience, so of course they are going to be able to make a more professional product! I do agree with Simon though (although I would not have used the word "retarded") in regards to the pricing thing. DUH!
What kind of challenge would have showcased your talents best?
Well, I think unlike the other designers in this show I have very well-rounded talents so I think the challenges I participated in allowed me to showcase my talents pretty well. If I had to pick a particular challenge in which my talents were showcased the best I would have to say it was the Teknicar challenge because I have to say that the "fab" lit up floor board I did was pretty trick. I also think my talents where well executed on the dress challenge.
So, have you called the man who offered to hire you if Tommy Hilfiger didnít?
I talk to Alex often. Soon I will relocate back East but right now I look out my window and its beautiful outside! It is going to be hard to leave California!
What do you think about the emphasis on working as a team, but being judged as individuals? Doesnít that discourage anyone from acting as a leader, that they will take personal responsibility for each team member?
Well, working in a group and being able to manage a group is critical in any business situation. Unfortunately, I think it was a little unclear in this completion because technically the team "pickers" where not the team "leaders". In the challenges I participated in I really wanted to make sure that the majority of the team was in agreement on certain major decisions (like in any collaboration). But, I guess in my situation it didn't really matter because I ended up being the martyr of our failure (although no one on our team seemed to think so).
What is your ultimate goal - what would you like to be doing?
My ultimate goal is to someday have my own line/collection. That is why I even considered doing this thing.
Was there anything else you wanted our readers to know about you and your experience on the show?
I just want to say thanks for watching! It was truly an amazing experience that I got to share with amazing people (although I got robbed!) and I don't think it will be the last you have seen of me.
Thank you so much for the interview, and I hope to see more of your designs in the future!
It was my pleasure and I hope to see more of my designs too! Thanks!
My sincere thanks to James, and to CBS for granting the interview.