Written by: D’Shonda Brown
The #ShopBlack Interview Series is a new installation that shines light upon budding and booming Black-owned businesses ran by millennials and Gen-Z’ers who are heavily influenced by hip-hop culture. Introducing John Wood, founder of Stained Glass ATL and Atlanta-based author, poet, and speaker delivering honesty, vulnerability and engaging storytelling to the mic. Read below the in-depth interview between D’Shonda Brown and John as they speak poetry, the importance and interdependence of faith in the Black community and lifting up Black men in the entrepreneurial space.
Hey, John! Thanks for taking the time out for this interview! For those of us who don’t know, who is John Wood?
I am a poet at heart, born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, I’ve performing and writing spoken word since 2010. But more recently I’ve been designing apparel. Working with an amazing team here in Atlanta, we’ve been able to put something really special together. Using poetry at its base, we’re really trying to trigger a positive emotional response when they read the quotes.
As a Black male in the entrepreneurial space, how important is it to uplift your brothers and sisters who are on this journey as well?
Tribe and community is everything. You cannot do anything by yourself. When you have a community, on the days you are weak, someone else is strong and vice versa. It’s important to listen, encourage, share ideas and everything in between. It keeps you grounded and humble.
We can go back as far as we possibly can to truly deconstruct the pillar that is the Black male when it comes to business curation in local communities. How do you feel that trauma as a Black man carries into the struggle of creating and maintaining a successful business? How important is mental health when having a business?
I think often as black men and women, we don’t feel deserving of the best because we’ve somewhat bought into the lie that we don’t. I think that subconsciously, this affects our decision making. I also feel like we are in financial ruts because a lot of people around us can’t help us the way we want them to. Many of us are the first in this age to do something like this, so help is slim sometimes. Maintaining mental health is the hardest part. A lot of times, you live in fear. That then creates a discomfort that’s hard to escape. Having a strong relationship with God and friends is helpful. And therapy; therapy might be needed as well. I’m working on that myself.
A few months ago, I bought your red silk red robe and I feel so rich and luxurious walking around my house in it. If I’m not mistaken, it was part of your collaboration with JannaYvonne called BLK LV. What does Black love mean to you and what are some examples of Black love that you’ve seen growing up?
Yes! Janna is an amazing designer and person. She’s from Atlanta but based out of NY. It was a pleasure working with her and getting to soak up some of her creative genius. She’s so dope! Black love to me is this very dynamic pursuit of happiness and maintenance of joy in a world that really ignores the nuances of blackness. It’s radical in the sense that we are truly healing one another while simultaneously fighting everything around us at the same time. My parents were a super dope example of black love. They were both raised in small towns, worked corporate, came to Atlanta, married and went into business together. They’ve been working together since I can remember. It’s beautiful.
On your social media, you are so vocal about your faith, spirituality and your religious beliefs. Personally, as Black people, I feel like we find comfort and safety in knowing that there is a higher being out there. How do you think the Black community has relied on faith or even misconstrued the power of prayer, miracles, etc.?
Great question. I’m Christian and I put my faith fully in Jesus Christ. Overall, I think Black people are much more conscious of God because of our suffering. We’ve been through so much yet we’ve come so far. But I do think that it’s hard for millennial black folks to get with church. People are not perfect, so church isn’t and I think that’s hard to reconcile these days when the church has not responded well to Black millennial’s questions. I think that if the black community wants to bring God back into the forefront, we need sound doctrine. Black church has typically more been about feeling and responding to the Spirit. But there’s a path to get there. And until we understand who God is Himself (His love, His character and faithfulness), then unfortunately we will continue to be disappointed with where church itself has gotten us.
You’re also a well-respected poet and have opened for known names such as Alysia Harris, Jasmine Mans, Rudy Francisco, GeorgiaMe and Queen Sheba. What inspired you to pursue poetry?
I was on stages early as a child. So I grew comfortable with being in front of people at a young age. I was always a little more in tune with my feelings than those around me and it really fueled me to be expressive. As I started watching black poets, I feel in love with the craft. Started sharing my work and the feedback really encouraged me to keep going. So here I am, a decade after sharing my first poem.
What’s next for John Wood? Poetry tour, a new collection?!
Tour would be amazing. I still currently work my day job so I’m not yet sure of the feasibility. But it will happen. Spring/Summer Collection will probably be out by the time this comes out. We have some great pieces this season that I’m excited about. I still really want to start sharing poetry on music projects/interludes and plan to work hard until that door opens.
John can be found on Instagram, @PoetJohnWood and, you purchase his incredible clothing line now available at his website and on Instagram @StainedGlassATL .