<p>Diane Moca:<br />When I heard about a new store at Fox Valley Mall called Family Means Forever, the name intrigued me. But when I walked in I was confused, I didn't really get it. Every piece of clothing had the same logo on it, but then I was thinking, "Oh, Nike does that." That's a pretty bold statement and then I met the founder and I realized why his brand is so important to him.<br /><br />Paris Burns:<br />When you get in a distraught moment or you're down, or you're going through some things in life, you know it's that one person that you can call. And that person might not be blood related but that person may still be family because of how you all been there for each other or some things that you been through together and came out on top together.<br /><br />Diane Moca:<br />Entrepreneur Paris Burns also knows what it's like to hit rock bottom.<br /><br />Paris Burns:<br />When you see your friend that you grow up with, on a daily basis, just dropping like flies, and some of them not even making to see 21. Or you see your closest friend, your brother, get taken away from you but you still got to try to go on and live life like everything's okay. It make you feel like you next.<br /><br />Diane Moca:<br />Many of us can't even imagine growing up the way Paris did. What was it like for you when you were a kid? Where were you? What was life like?<br /><br />Paris Burns:<br />I grew up on the west side of Chicago. A lot of people in the city may know it as K Town, where it was very violent. A lot of drugs, a lot of violence, a lot of killings, a lot of bad things going on in my environment. And it was so easy for me to become a product of my environment.<br /><br />Diane Moca:<br />Paris, I got to ask you, how old are you?<br /><br />Paris Burns:<br />I'm 27.<br /><br />Diane Moca:<br />Okay. Was there ever a time that you thought you wouldn't get to 27?<br /><br />Paris Burns:<br />Yes, it was. Actually, their was a lot of times I thought I wouldn't get to 27. But one of the things that I realized as a kid, too, that I was different and I was special. It wasn't me that made me realize it, it was the people around me that made me realize it. And once I seen my teachers and my coaches pinpoint things that I was doing, it started to help me notice what was going on around me. I started pushing myself a little bit more. Seeing some of my friends dying at a young age, seeing some of my family members go through the prison to pipeline system, it just made me want to get a away from everything and be better and actually do something.<br /><br />Paris Burns:<br />I was a good basketball player, one of the top basketball players in the city of Chicago, also in the state of Illinois. I used basketball to keep me away from all of the crazy things that was going on in my environment. And basketball helped me meet a lot of good people. Whether if it was coaches or just friends that turned into brothers, because basketball is like a brotherhood.<br /><br />Diane Moca:<br />And then it all came crashing down in an instant.<br /><br />Paris Burns:<br />I was a junior in college and basketball was getting tougher. My books and studies was getting tougher, as well. I remember it like it was yesterday. We was planning a game against a Division III school and I tore my meniscus. I heard it. I went up to get a rebound, came down and I felt a pop. It just wasn't the same after that. I felt like I wasn't going to be able to really get through it like that. I had just made the UIC and here I am now, my torn meniscus, my dream got shattered. It was just one of those life changing moments for me.<br /><br />Paris Burns:<br />And I was sitting down in my dorm one day, and I'll never forget it, I was rapping with one of my brothers. He was my friend but I consider him a brother. And then I just thought and thought and thought, and I was like, "Man, you know what?" I'm like, "We not blood related, but you still my family." And I'm like, "You going to be my family forever." He's like, "Yeah, you right." I'm like, "You know what? My family means forever." And once I said, "Family means forever," to him, he was the first person to believe. And when I said it, it wasn't as, "Oh yeah, I'm going to do family means forever and I'm going to sell clothes and I'm going to make clothes." It was more so of a thing of what it really means, like a lifestyle.<br /><br />Diane Moca:<br />So at that point, Family Means Forever was an idea. When did it become a brand, a business, a store? How did that evolve?<br /><br />Paris Burns:<br />Whew. Okay. So I had just graduated college. I was looking for the next thing to do and my brother was killed. He was the first person to believe in that and he was taken away from me. He was gunned down by gun violence. It took me at least four years just to even pick myself back up and say, "Okay, I'm going to do this," or "I'm going to figure something out," or, "I'm going to still push." Because I wanted to leave a legacy behind for something that we started.<br /><br />Paris Burns:<br />At that time, too, I had got got like a hoodie made. I had put the logo on the hoodie just to try something. I did it and everybody loved it. I started making t-shirts. The first 35, 40 t-shirts I made, I sold out in 10 minutes. And it was crazy because I was selling them out of my house, selling them out of the trunk, just riding around the city. "Yo, I got t-shirts." So every day I just put more time into this. I sit at my desk, on my notes, writing down future plans and it was up from there.<br /><br />Diane Moca:<br />So, that's all in Chicago. How did you end up in Aurora?<br /><br />Paris Burns:<br />Me, my father, my son and my uncle was just browsing through mall and my dad, he was like, "Man, you got so much inventory son. I think you should just ... You should give it a shot, man. You should just get a store here." I'm like, "Man, you crazy. I can't. They're not going to let me get a store at Fox Valley Mall." He was like, "Why not?"<br /><br />Paris Burns:<br />I called the number on a glass downstairs, the management number. Patty was amazing. I called Patty, just told her who I was, told her about my brand, told her my story. And she told me, she said, "I believe you deserve a chance to be here and not only be here, but be successful."<br /><br />Paris Burns:<br />I always wanted to think of something to give back and have a reason and have a way to give back. I didn't want it to be about money. So I wanted to do it throughout my brand and I came up with Family Means Forever. I chose to do whatever I can to find a way out and out of grace of God, it wasn't basketball, it was my brand. FMF, Family Means Forever. That's why this brand means everything in the world to me and I do everything I got to do in the world to protect it.<br /><br />Diane Moca:<br />And you know what you are now, you are an inspiration. You're an inspiration to people in Aurora and beyond.</p>
Young Entrepreneur Turns the Pain of Tragedy into Passion for His Family Means Forever Brand
Paris Burns grew up on the mean streets of Chicago and didn’t think he’d live to 27, the age when he opened his own store at Fox Valley Mall. Basketball helped him escape the gangs and drugs of his upbringing, but an injury shattered his dreams. It was the first of several tragedies he had to overcome to build his Family Means Forever brand.
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