The Retail GM at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, Daron Fowler, collect socks and shoes like some people collect stamps or coins. He doesn’t collect boring socks, but buys crazy, bright novelty socks. And his shoe collection is equally exciting with not only classic leather loafers and wingtips but slip-on brightly-colored sneaker models.
You may have guessed that Daron loves to shop. The Kansas City-native earned a bachelor’s degree in apparel and textile design from Kansas State University. His favorite magazines include GQ with its style advice and tips and Nylon, an American magazine devoted to men’s fashions as well as art, music, technology and travel.
His degree gave him great career opportunities and prepared him for a career in retail merchandising. However, the craziest thing Daron said he did was to pack his bags and move to New York City – all on a whim. He survived and worked in retail for a couple of years, then moved Atlanta to continue his career.
When he’s not working or shopping, Daron spends time at the local gym. The four-time state high school track and field champion runs and lifts weights four to six times a week to maintain his athletic build. In high school, he was a star hurdler. He patiently learned to sprint over the barriers and not jump over them. His devotion to taking the time to learn how to jump hurdles is a reflection of one aspect of his personality: dedication. One of his regrets is that he did not use an athletic scholarship to attend college. He turned down the full-ride as he wanted to focus on academics at K-State, which is recognized by the Princeton Review as one of America’s best colleges. However, he did receive some scholarship money to help pay tuition.
With Daron’s track background, it’s no surprise that it’s his favorite sport to watch on TV. He said that he can watch foot ball and basketball, but he’s not all that engaged, but when watching track and field events, he yells and screams.
Daron takes his dogs on a regular basis to the dog park. He, and his partner lives with their three dogs: two black Pomeranians, Buffy and Parker, and a Boston terrier, Kaiden. The small energetic dogs provide not only companionship, but entertainment as their breeds are known for their enthusiasm as well as intelligence.
Interestingly, Daron shared that his most valued possession is his health. He said it sounds corny, but explained that if you’re not healthy, it doesn’t matter what possessions you have. While Daron believes in exercising and taking care of himself, he doesn’t pass up Mexican food or Kansas City bar-be-que. When he travels, he tries and finds a Mexican restaurant. Just recently at a restaurant in Progreso, Mexico he sampled a pineapple bacon guacamole dip that he said was out of this world! His favorite drink: what else but Corona margaritas! This drink is a combination of limeade, tequila and beer – served over ice. Refreshing!
With his family still living in the Kansas City area, Daron makes regular visits to many of the famous bar-be-que hot spots. He claims Gates does it the best by slowly smoking the meat over a variety of woods and then covering it with a thick tomato- and molasses-based sauce. He always buys an extra bottle or two of the sauce to take home. Even though with his devotion to his health, some are surprised that he is not a vegetarian. But he said, “I think it would be a challenge to go plant based.” His mom and step-father, dad and step-mother and brother and sister as well as a nephew and one set of grandparents still live in the mid-west city. His favorite childhood memory is spending Saturday nights with his grandmother. They would do errands, including grocery shopping, then stop at Perkins to eat before going home to watch the popular Golden Girls television series that featured four older women sharing a home in Miami. The favorite past-time ended when his grandmother died in 1997.
Daron not only collects socks and shoes, he collects experiences. His favorite entertainer is Beyonce. He said the American singer, songwriter and actress has done a good job of packaging herself and does provide a great show. He enjoys listening to hip hop or pop music – depending on the artist.
Traveling also provides a variety of experiences. Daron’s partial to the Caribbean. But other favorite spots include Santa Monica and New Orleans. He likes the vibe of the beach, and also enjoys the culture and food of the historically-rich southern destination. On his travel bucket list are several exotic destinations, such as Lisbon, Portugal, Morocco, and South Africa. He wants to experience the black sand beaches in Portugal, the culture and food of Morocco and walk where Nelson Mandela walked in Cape Town, South Africa. An added benefit of visiting that country would be the opportunity to go on safari as he’s a big animal lover. He said, “I love virtually every animal. My absolute favorite animals are flamingoes and zebras.”
His first job was scooping ice cream at Baskin-Robbins. There he learned the importance of customer service and how to quickly build rapport and establish trust with co-workers and management. Over the years, he has collected work skills through his expertise as manager of various retail stores. He’s not only a talented manager, but Daron shared that his friends and family probably describe him as funny and outgoing – and talkative! He added that he was also inquisitive as he has a tendency to ask a lot of questions.