Devon Christopher: Taking over the world at 32
Cyril Josh Barker | 4/12/2011, 4:37 p.m.
At the age of 32, entrepreneur Devon Christopher has already accomplished more than many people have in a lifetime. A self-made businessman, Christopher is the publisher of the national publication Bleu magazine, has his own restaurant and is an event planner.
A resident of Harlem, Christopher said that he always had his sights set on becoming an entrepreneur since he was young. Originally from Uniondale, Long Island, Christopher said he idolized Donald Trump.
"He was the first person I saw in media with a lot of money," he said. "For him to be famous for business really spoke to me. I always wanted to be a celebrity, and he's the first business celebrity.
Christopher graduated from New Jersey's Seton Hall University, where he began studying business, but later changed his major to communications. He earned his degree in marketing in 1999.
"I always like marketing, ever since I saw Eddie Murphy in 'Boomerang;' I wanted to be like Marcus," he said.
After graduation, he worked for Def Jam Records as a marketing assistant. He worked with several big names, including Jay-Z, LL Cool J and Musiq. He later worked in advertising for Universal Music Group and as a product manager for Asylum Records.
But while being employed for everyone else, his dreams of building his own empire never left.
He said, "I went to school to have a career. I didn't want to work for someone; I wanted to do my own thing."
In 2006, Christopher, along with several friends, started Bleu magazine. Distributed nationally, the quarterly publication focuses on urban fashions for men of color. He said that even though he started Bleu during a time when most magazines are folding, the magazine is needed.
"The purpose of Bleu is to show American Black men in a different light," he said. "Men of color are not on magazine covers unless they are rappers, actors or criminals."
Along with having his own magazine, Christopher opened Harlem's first and Manhattan's 10th Atomic Wings franchise. In business for a year now, Christopher said that he's aware that Harlem is full of places that sell chicken, but Atomic Wings does something different.
"I asked myself, 'What if I created a restaurant that catered to a demand that already ate chicken, but it wasn't delivered,'" he said. "Most places that sell chicken required customers to come into the store."
Christopher said that while he's accomplished so much, he's not finished. As for his future, he wants to open lounge in Harlem similar to that of Lenox Lounge during its heyday and start his own line of men's accessories.
He is currently developing a pilot for a reality TV show titled "Material Boys" about five young men living in Harlem on the chase for success. The show is being marketed to Centric, Bravo and Oxygen.
Growing up in a privileged household, he was raised by a single mother who he attributes all of his success to. In addition to overcoming colon cancer, Christopher said that she accomplished so much in order to provide her son with a fulfilling life.
"All that I have accomplished is mainly [just me] telling my mother that she did a good job," he said. "My mother overcompensated for me when I was younger, so I wanted her to understand she did an amazing job in raising me."