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Junot Díaz almost gave up on his debut novel several times. It ended up winning writing's highest honor

Ghana native incorporates his colorful culture into Twin Cities hip-hop

This Long Island company has found success while still maintaining a comfortable, unconventional work environment
Sam Suarez turns a lifetime interest in fashion into a business
Imagine spending the night at a Foot Locker with a sleeping bag and a lunchbox. It's not that you think the mall is a campground; you're waiting for the new Jordans, which will be available at 12:01 a.m. As you finally open the shoebox, the smell of new leather and the gleam of bright white shoelaces almost brings a tear to your eye.

Sam Suarez, 31, president of Bird Club Co., understands the feeling. That sentiment motivated him to launch his company in 2006 with partners Tyrone and Melvin Farquharson in Miami. The Bird Club shirts and the K.R.E.A.M. (Kicks Rule Everything Around Me) line specialize in designs custom-matched with newly released Air Jordans. His creations are featured in boutiques in Miami, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, and New York City. Suarez describes his designs as "urban boutique." His creations have appeared in music videos by Ray J featuring Yung Berg, Rick Ross, and Flo-Rida.

Suarez, who owns more than 300 pairs of sneakers, was always dedicated to fashion, but he didn't plan to make it his business. After receiving a bachelor's degree in sports medicine he dropped out of graduate school to start his company. "I would always get ideas, even when I was driving and I would stop right then to write them down," Suarez says. He named his company Bird Club because when it came to fashion he always "stayed fly."

But his road to success presented obstacles. "We hit a lot of walls as rookies," Suarez says. "We didn't fully understand the cost and what it took to run a business."

Suarez's current projects include a catalog, a new web site, and a merger with another company, Jamrock Entertainment. The partnership with Jamrock means Suarez will own 50 percent of a Miami recording studio. "We're taking it to the next level," says Suarez.
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