“No.” Phillip Loken was tired of hearing that word.

“I received so many ‘nos’” he said. “‘No, we can’t help fund it.’ ‘You can’t use these venues.’ ‘You can’t do these things.’”

It didn’t matter. Phillip, a junior business studies major in the Bryan School, knew the art show he envisioned would be a success. He had the ideas. He had the passion. He had the work ethic.

Those same qualities – mixed with a strong fashion point-of-view – are what power his successful blog, Cool & Well-Dressed. Now two years old, the blog is a curated collection of what appeals to him, from Q&As with standard bearers and up-and-comers in the world of streetwear and menswear to style profiles featuring the hip and trendy and an online gallery for his photography.

Phillip calls it a “creative conglomerate.”

“Cool & Well-Dressed started out as a personal thing,” he said. “Me, being very confident in myself, I thought the title should be something that describes me. I can fit a lot of things underneath the umbrella of Cool & Well-Dressed. That’s where I see myself — a creative entity.”

The site has more than 1,400 followers, drawn by Phillip’s keen eye for the hottest trends. “The first brand I did was called Au Courant, a couture brand based in Chicago,” Phillip said. “I looked at their stuff and reached out to the founder. A year later, they’ve moved to Paris, they’re on stock lists. They’ve done a lot.”

His love of fashion dates back to early high school, when he realized what he wore could be an expression of who he is. But passion alone can’t fuel a dream, so the Raleigh native came to UNCG in 2011 to study business and minor in consumer, apparel and retail studies.

“The fashion side comes easy and natural to me, but I wanted to learn the business aspects,” he said.

He’s found that and more. Inspiration for a T-shirt design for Avant Garde, the streetwear company he’s a part of, came from his art history class. His position with Avant Garde spun from an interview he conducted with the brand’s founder for the blog. Outside the classroom, he’s making connections in Greensboro and beyond, gaining experience and building his resume — all with an eye on getting a jump-start on his career goals.

He hustles. Hard. “I sleep whenever I can. Sometimes it’ll be days when I just go,” he said.

“I work really hard now so I can hopefully retire early and be fine. Or so my artistry can be at a level where I can live off of it.”

With those kinds of dreams, Phillip doesn’t have time for “no.”

And the art show? It’s happening May 2 at Civic Threads, a fashion boutique in downtown Greensboro. The exhibition is a collaborative mashup of music, photography and mixed art that will double as a food drive for Greensboro Urban Ministries.

“In my head, I knew this art show was going to be really dope and nice,” Phillip said.

“I don’t take ‘no’ for an answer for something I’m passionate about. ‘No’ doesn’t really mean that much anymore. It just means I can’t use you. There’s always another way.”

By Lanita Withers Goins, University Relations

Photography by Chris English, University Relations