ust call when you’re outside,” a text reads as I fidget for warmth in a cab speeding from Columbus Circle to SoHo. Two days prior to a drizzling New York City Sunday, the forecast gave a glimpse of what we dream spring feels like. However, that Sunday was a reminder that the city can switch its temperature as quickly as Usain Bolt running a 150-meter race.
After hopping out of the taxi to windy, 40-degree weather on Prince and Mercer Street, I power-walk to the ASOS US office. “I’m here!” was the text delivered at 5:27 p.m. (I was too nervous to actually call), followed by a response and a door buzzing open.
The elevator doors open on the third floor to a smooth, chill tune playing aloud that set the tone. Cool and one-of-a-kind is how I describe it because the remix was smooth.
“Hey, come in!” he exclaims with a smile, donning a denim jacket over a white Diesel hoodie and red joggers. He introduces Chelsea, his friend and colleague, before he introduces himself. We all exchange small talk, shake hands, and then Roystan and I move from Chelsea’s desk to a table with some camera equipment.
It was clear Roystan just finished filming one of his popular Insta-videos where he quickly showcases three looks around a theme. One of his most popular focuses on prom fashion and has racked up more than 2 million views.
“How was your day so far?”
“It’s good,” he responds, leaning back in his chair comfortably. “It’s been a busy one, but busy is usually good for me.”
“Busy” involves a lot of personal and ASOS projects, such as campaigns, strategies, and styling. He says his mother’s work gene was passed on to him since she was always on the go. It stuck with him, alongside other morals and life lessons instilled by his parents.
Born in Houston, Texas, Roystan grew up with the ideal Southern-boy suburban tale. He recalls his childhood summers in the Caribbean, where his parents were born—he also happens to be a dual citizen of St. Kitts—and years of enjoyment throughout elementary to high school.
He remained in the South to attend Morehouse College in Atlanta. With a Marketing major and Brand Management concentration, Roystan discovered his love of fashion when his friends convinced him to try out for the Clark Atlanta Fashion Show. He got in, of course. That’s when he began to have what he considers a “low-level” introduction to the business of fashion.
With a reputation for being one of the fashion kids on campus, especially after his feature on Morehouse it-blog Late Boots, Roystan remembers one fashion tragedy that involved purple skinny jeans. And you know purple skinny jeans are not the move anymore.
“I’ll forever remember this outfit,” he jokes before detailing the look. “I had purple skinny jeans, a yellow-striped tank top, and I think I had a beanie or a skully on.” We both sat in our chairs envisioning young Jovel rocking the vibrant, color-clashing look teamed with Chuck’s. “I pray to God everyone on my campus forgot that day.”
But trial and error become lessons learned. Post graduation, Roystan now knows his style: a statement with a hint of sport, and never too flashy.
Speaking of graduation approaching (no pressure to you SCAD seniors reading this), he shared a story of how his hard work in college led to big opportunities after graduation.
After moving to the Big Apple fresh out of college, he collaborated with Calvin Klein for the blog he found with his best friend called The No Names. In a video called “Heads in the Clouds,” the duo plays on Calvin Klein Collection’s Spring/Summer 2014 pieces and is published on Highsnobiety. All of this was happening while he was working at his first job in Macy’s corporate offices in New York.
Starting out as a merchandising assistant for fragrance and men’s grooming, he had a feeling there was a creative career out there that matched his talents and interests. A colleague of his peeped it, too. “Homegirl was looking out,” Roystan says. A social media position became available on Macy’s creative team and he got the job. He was great at it, but something still wasn’t right.
He was reached out to by ASOS to be a brand ambassador for the company and was interviewed in the same offices we were currently sitting in. Roystan points to a gray couch across from the table we’re at, implying that’s where it all happened. He undoubtedly wowed the interview, because not only did he get the ASOS Instagram brand ambassador gig, but they also offered him a full-time spot on the social team for ASOS US.
“I thought they were just saying ‘hey, would you want to work here?’ just to talk, not in seriousness.” But they were dead-serious. Today, he holds the title of Social Media Executive for a company at which he’s been a loyal shopper for more than seven years.
Not only does Roystan feel like he’s a part of something, he is a part of something. ASOS’s company culture remains one of the most creative and diverse in the world. Products catering to all body types, models depicted on the website don’t always fit the Eurocentric beauty standard, and the company develops initiatives, like ASOS Supports Talent, to provide platforms for young creatives to thrive.
[Inclusivity and diversity] feel really natural to [ASOS], because it is natural. You can see it from our company culture, our customer culture— it just fits. It doesn’t feel forced, it feels really organic… I often really feel proud of the company.”
Being a young, black executive and creative in the fashion industry is something to be proud of, too. Roystan’s current state of happiness and success are thanks to his ability to adapt. He knew how to finesse the fashion and influencer industries, and clearly he’s done it well. “Play the game and know what environments you are trying to get in,” he says as his final words of advice. “But also…if you want to do something, do it. And do it harder than anyone else.”
But before we wrapped up our chat, you know I had to put him on the spot with a gotcha question.
“What’s one question that you’ve really want to be asked?”
He laughed, “I don’t know. That’s tough.”
He ponders it with both hands on his cheeks, laughing as Chelsea turns around interested to hear his response. After three stints of giggles — and, I’m pretty sure, three questions that he thought of that we’ll never know — he struck gold.
“If I could be a Spice Girl song, which one would it be?
“That’s a great question. So, if you could be a Spice Girl song, which one would it be? And why?”
“I’ll say ‘Say You’ll Be There,’” he smiles.
“Not because any of the Spice Girl songs make sense, but because it’s a bop and it makes you feel something; and I just want to be there for people to be a source of inspiration, although that isn’t what the song is necessarily about.”
Be sure to follow Roystan on Instagram, @jovelroystan, to see what greatness he creates next.