Twins Julian and Justin Grant focus on first impressions in preparing students for the next level

Twins Julian and Justin Grant focus on first impressions in preparing students for the next level
Twin brothers Julian and Justin Grant, both engineers, are giving male seniors in Birmingham and Tarrant schools guidance in dressing to make a strong first impression on potential employers. (Contributed)

Twin brothers Julian and Justin Grant are on a mission to take male senior students in Birmingham and Tarrant city schools to the next level.

The 26-year-olds are founders of Siamese Dreams Next Level Outreach with a mission to educate, enrich and empower the young men by helping them display their talents and prepare for the future.

“We want them to have the sustainable skills (for) … the next level,” Julian said.

This month the Grants will award 12 seniors from Huffman, Ramsay and Tarrant high schools with their J for a J scholarship, which consists of Johnston & Murphy dress shoes, a pair of dress socks, an embossed portfolio and a shoeshine kit – and, for a grand prize winner, a pair of Nike Air Jordans.

Dressing for success should be as big an investment as sneakers, Julian said.

“Students will wait in line and spend their last dime on a pair of Jordans, but they don’t focus on professional dressing, which may help them long term,” said Julian, an engineer with Alabama Power Company. “We’re showing them that if you place just a tenth of that attention on professional dressing, learning about it and investing bit by bit on a pair of shoes, a nice shirt, a nice belt, that will go a long way.”

The right start

The brothers, who are graduates of Ramsay and Alabama A&M, agreed that giving the students professional clothing is just as important as giving money.

“We wanted to give something that we can physically put in the students’ hands and will be effective. They might not see immediately how this will help them, but they are going to need that in the long run,” Julian said.

Appearance is important because it is the first thing people notice, said Justin, a technology engineer in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“We put a heavy emphasis on image because we know that when you go in professional settings within 10 seconds people can automatically get a preconceived notion of what they think about you,” Justin said. “So, when our students come in, we want them to be equipped and have the essentials and knowledge they need for their physical presentation.”

Freedom to focus

Being well-dressed allows the students to focus “on the questions that are being asked instead of saying, ‘does my suit match my tie?’” Justin said. “Although we’re focusing on image, it’s really helping their mindset so that they can perform at their top level.”

The focus of a well-dressed person is twofold, Julian said.

“When an executive looks at a student who is professionally dressed, they’re not forming something negative; and for the students, the confidence will help. The more confidence they have, the better they do.”

During school visits the Grants give seniors tips on how to dress professionally.  “Even if they don’t receive the scholarship, they still have the knowledge of what to wear and how to present themselves when the time comes,” Julian said.

The mannequin challenge

Part of the Siamese Dreams program is “Hour of Power”, a day of professional dressing in which representatives from Saks Fifth Avenue, JoS. A. Bank and the Shoe Clinic, which specializes in sneaker care, emphasize the importance of image.

About 30 students participated, Justin said. “They’re not going to be in suits and ties all day, so we wanted to show them the importance of maintaining their image at all times.”

The students performed a mannequin challenge, in which two teams had to dress mannequins for an interview and were judged by their peers.

All elements of the program are preparation for the next level, the twins said.

“We want to display to the young men the importance of knowing when to transition from one phase of life to the next and being equipped in order to do that,” Justin said.

This story originally appeared on The Birmingham Times website.

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