‘From schlub to swagger’
Cameron Lewis was at his lowest point when he got the call he would be interning with football legend Steve Young.
“It was incredible timing,” he said. “It was God’s timing.”
Weeks before learning that he had won an internship through the Van Heusen Institute of Style campaign, Lewis had lost his job.
Drained of ambition, the Henderson resident headed to California. He came back to North Carolina with designer clothes and a new outlook on life.
“You really don’t see yourself the same after you dress up like that,” Lewis said. “You never know what it can do for your drive.”
According to Van Heusen Senior Vice President of Creative Services Anthony Trama, the organization is designed to do just that: take young men from “schlub to swagger.”
“We want to be a resource for them,” Trama said. “Giving them the right style and the right footing as they head out in their careers.”
The internship was founded to give young men a day in the life of an entrepreneur and help in creating game-changing moments for them.
Football legends Steve Young and Jerry Rice act as professors of style for the program and engage participants makeovers that build confidence and professionalism.
Lewis made history as the first intern for the Van Heusen Institute of Style internship.
He applied through Facebook and stood out to Young out of the more than 1,000 applicants.
“We received entries from all over the country and many, many deserving candidates; however, Cameron’s personality and style truly stood out,” Young wrote in a January press release announcing the organization’s decision. “I am really looking forward to having him join my off-the-field team for a week.”
Lewis said the week contained hectic days of shopping, research and meetings.
He took on tasks for many organizations associated with Van Heusen, Young and Rice, including the Forever Young Foundation, a non-profit Young started to help children facing physical, emotional and financial hardships.
During the internship, Lewis styled Young, helped develope social media plans and investigated trademark violations.
He attend meetings with prominent executives, such as the Superbowl host committee chairman and president of Visa.
Lewis will be featured in the style institute’s fall photo shoot as well. Photos are set to be released in GQ and ESPN in October.
He said working with these influential gave his business career a boost.
“I have some great contacts now,” Lewis said. “I am just looking to keep networking.”
He plans to get back into music with a church ministry in Pennsylvania and launch his own men’s empowerment program.
“I would like kids to start thinking for themselves,” he said. “I want to start with young men; then women will follow. This is just me learning from my own dumb mistakes.”
Lewis grew up in a trailer park on Gun Club Road, Henderson, and attended Dabney Elementary and Eaton-Johnson Middle schools.
He grew up wanting to become a musician.
“I had slight dreams of stardom, but they fizzled,” Lewis said. “My parents said, ‘No, you need to focus on those books.’ ”
Lewis said he traveled to may different states trying to figure out his passion, becoming homeless for a while, crashing with friends and struggling to make ends meet before being fired.
“I see now that I have the potential to be all the things I thought I would be,” Lewis said.
Van Huesen representatives only had great things to say about him.
“He is a character,” Tamar said. “He has great personality. He has amazingly great work ethic, and having him on board really helped the campaign.”
Lewis said above all things, he will keep pushing to be successful with his new knowledge of the industry. He realizes that means staying humble and using his resources.
“People are your best currency,” he said when asked the most important thing the internship taught him. “If we focus on helping each other instead of capitalism, then the world could be a better place.”
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