Multi-Taskers Series: Malcolm Harris

Jason Campbell

The contemporary professional fashion identity involves many roles. In fact, having a single title is now an obsolete concept—today, a fashion designer is also a product developer, charity entrepreneur, editor and consultant, while a hairstylist moonlights as a TV commentator, author and art enthusiast. To better understand the trend and the motivation behind these multi-titled professionals, we interviewed a network of multi-taskers to weigh in on their seemingly insatiable professional appetites. Second in our series is Malcolm Harris, a New York-based multi-tasker who works all over the creative map.

JC Report: Tell us about all the projects you’re currently working on and the titles you attach to them.

Malcolm Harris: To be quite honest, I don’t think it would be possible to give formal titles to all the different hats I wear every single day, but I will give it the old college try anyway:

1) The Captain’s Hat – Artist Management: I am currently managing the careers of emerging artists like singer Atarah Valentine and actress Victory Brito. I have dubbed them “The Trilogy.” I find myself very excited about assisting these creatives in building strong professional foundations as well as a creative safe haven from which they can launch their respective careers.

2) The French Beret – Curator: I have been asked by the estate of the late Nina Simone to curate a touring exhibition of the legend’s iconic costumes, lost music and photos. I will be working closely with Simone’s daughter as well as a community of philanthropists, historians and entertainment industry elite.

3) The Military Fatigue Cap – Fashion Designer/Humanitarian: I recently launched my One-Dress collection/initiative, which benefits the organization Womankind Worldwide. This project is based on my brand’s mantra “Changing the World—One Dress at Time.” It has taken me several years to finally strike a concise and strategic balance between my creative and professional ambitions and my humanitarian obligations—this combination is truly my idea of success.

4) The Turban – Cultural Ambassador: I am the founder of the Made In: MENA project which is a cultural exchange project between the United States and the MENA (Middle Eastern Northern Africa) region. The project will focus on fashion, music, art and film as we bridge the gaps between the continents. While this is perhaps the most daunting of all the projects, I truly believe Made In: MENA will be the crowning glory of my contribution to the humanitarian and creative worlds.

JCR: Is each role independent of the other, or do they overlap at points?

MH: I am still not sure if the co-dependency of these individual projects was consciously and strategically woven into their existence, or if their intertwining is present by sheer divine-intervention. But from a sort of aerial view of the master plan, not only do these projects overlap, they are also tightly strung together on the same red thread.

JCR: Do you think modern day culture promotes seeking success in multiple fields?

MH: I don’t think we do enough to promote seeking success in multiple fields, but I do believe this is changing. I also believe that for too long we have used ridiculous expressions like “Jack of all trades—master of none” to pigeonhole individuals into living inside the proverbial box. Personally, I have simply chosen to rewrite the narrative as “Jack of all trades—master of destiny.”

JCR: Do you work in your current capacity to stay master of your own destiny or do you work out of necessity?

MH: Very rarely do I take on a project out of necessity. However, I know I am very fortunate. The universe has seen fit to allow me to become the master of my own destiny. In today’s climate, I feel it is only through this sort of manning the helm of one’s own ship can we realize that even shipwrecks can turn into lucrative treasure hunts and discovery.

JCR: What’s the role of collaboration in your current work profile?

MH: I don’t think I would be able to perform any of these various roles without the ability to successfully collaborate with other creatives and sometimes “suits” [laughs]. I think we only grow as creatives when we join together to expand our current goals and missions.

JCR: In the future, do you envision experimenting with even more roles?

MH: At this point I couldn’t imagine not constantly being on the alert for the next creative challenge or professional role. Just today, I received an offer to design a boutique hotel here in New York City. I’m already toying with the concept of a hotel with a voyeuristic experience.

JCR: Define your professional bliss?

MH: Professional bliss for me is waking up every morning and having no idea what to expect, but knowing I always have a hat to fit the role of each magical day.

This interview was conducted by Jason Campbell