38 Vice President – Accessory Brands Inc., Winston-Salem, N.C.
When Scott Abdul-Salaam became vice president of Accessory Brands Inc. in 2001, he had clear ideas about how to turn the company around. He would, for example, revamp the entire manufacturing, sales and design departments, and conduct internal audits to identify systemic problems. “I joined the company as vice president to help structure and organize, and diversify revenue income and maximize profits,” he says. Within two years of Abdul-Salaam’s arrival, the company grew from $6 million to $13 million in sales. Under his leadership, Accessory Brands has emerged as a major player in the licensed product category of the sporting goods industry, with a list of licensors that includes the NBA, Riddell, Spalding and Negro League Baseball.
Abdul-Salaam obtained a degree in design and advertising from North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, N.C. Although he was the first in his family to graduate from college, he and his siblings share a similar collegiate experience. “We are all products of historically black colleges and universities and I am a big believer and supporter of them,” he notes.
Much of Abdul-Salaam’s life is centered on his Muslim faith, which has exposed him to experiences that seem to parallel those of Malcolm X, the late Black activist. Abdul-Salaam’s spiritual leader, Imam W. Deen Mohammed, is the son of the late Honorable Elijah Muhammad, founder of the Nation of Islam and the early spiritual leader of Malcolm X. And, like Malcolm X, Abdul-Salaam made the pilgrimage to Mecca. “While most people try to complete the trip much later in life [Malcolm took the hajj at 39], the purpose of my going at 28 was because I wanted to try to make an effort to live my life consciously and live up to the expectations set forth by my Creator,” he explains.
Now 38, he says his wife and two children, plus his close-knit extended family, keep him grounded after a high-pressure day on the job. “My family is the cornerstone of my life. Without my family life, there would be no community life!” he says.