Extra headerOctober 2019

Former basketballer styling high-profile clientele

It was a proverbial fork in the road moment that led Bashar Alhuneidi to turn the corner from corporate fashion management into self-employment. A few years later, the former Pioneer basketballer is building an exclusive brand of his own as founder and managing director for Adam Aleksander, a custom fashion company with its first showroom in Frisco, Texas.

Fashion has been a long-time interest for Bashar Alhuneidi in his fitting roomBashar, a native of Jordan who played for the Pioneers in the early 2000s and studied management and marketing in the School of Business.

"I grew up in an environment where we had to dress up; my dad was very strict about that," he recalls, noting that meant shirt tucked in and clean shaven. "We say here - and it's really something I get from my background - 'be a gentleman, always a gentleman.' You are a presentation not only of yourself but also your family and the organization you represent."

Building a unique brand

His brand-which he named after his two sons, Aleksander and Adam - really revolves around that premise, creating an exclusive experience for clients that focuses not on mass production but on unique products that fit their lifestyle and personal goals.

"I wanted to create something really special, not just a store. We call it a showroom, because there isn't a lot of merchandise; customers walk away with nothing in their hands because these are custom-made items," he explains of the business, which is located in the Frisco Star area. "We use Italian tailors working here in the United States. We have private consultation rooms with sample garments, and we have over 3,000 fabric swatches we go through with clients.

"It is true consulting; we sit down and talk to the clients and ask a lot of questions, most not even about clothing."

In just 10 months, the showroom has hosted such celebrities as Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and several members of the Dallas Cowboys organization that are neighbors in the Star.

Birth of a dream

The business was born out of Bashar's consultancy started after years in retail fashion management when finding himself at a crossroads. Then working in Dubai as chief operations officer for Galeries Lafayette, a French department store similar to Neiman Marcus, Bashar faced a dilemma. His high-pressure global position meant work was nearly 24-7. But at home, his autistic daughter Sabrah was facing severe medical challenges related to epilepsy and needed multiple brain surgeries back in the U.S.

Adam Aleksander showroom"Because of my work, I could not take a lot of time off, but I also couldn't either afford my daughter going through surgery in the U.S. I had to face a decision of what was more important, and there's no question there," he shared. "I decided to take time off and pay attention to my family and take care of my daughter."

After a six-month hiatus, Bashar was prepared to re-enter the job hunt. He soon realized any job back in the corporate world would mean more long days and less time at home. Again. Instead, he opted to start his own business consulting firm, called Apartment 27, in February 2015. In the years that followed, he worked with small to mid-size fashion brands and retailers and did business development work for some resorts and theme parks.

But having his own brand was always in the back of his mind, and Adam Aleksander was born shortly thereafter, starting as an extension of his private client consulting and eventually growing into a showroom presence in 2018. His goal is to expand the brand, with locations in Las Vegas and Dubai on the vision board for 2020. He hopes to have eight global locations within 3-5 years, with Dallas as the headquarters.

The Adam Aleksander way

"This is an experience in itself," he says. "We have a main lounge, a complimentary bar, and three private consultation rooms, all very exclusive. We cater to different walks of life, different industries. We do have some millionaires and billionaires, but we also have the guys who are up-and-coming in their careers, and they are The "secret" roombuilding their wardrobes as an investment."

This is reminiscent of Bashar himself, who worked part-time at the Plainview Bealls store while at Wayland, opting to wear a full suit even as a clerk, following the maxim to "dress for the job you want, not the job you have."

Following his time at WBU, Bashar spent nearly four years with Goody's, the parent company of Bealls, working his way up the ladder, then hired on with Macy's as an assistant general manager in Dallas and Houston. From there, he returned overseas after Bloomingdale's hired him as general manager over their international operations, helping open the first two stores in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. He also managed Middle East and North Africa operations for Louis Vuitton Group before taking his COO role at Galeries Lafayette.

As for more family time, self-employment has made that easier. Bashar and wife Gabriela, who now works alongside him at Adam Aleksander, have five children, including daughter Raisa, 12, and Olivia, born in April 2019. It is his family that spurs him onward in the business.

"My goal is to create a legacy for my kids; hopefully they will grow up and want to be part of it," he shared. "We created something special here. It goes beyond clothing and beyond experiences. What makes us successful here is relationships. People trust us and it's an investment."


Devotional: Fahrenheit 40 or 136?

I had never been to Seattle before this last summer. I did not go to meet Jeff Bezos or the cast of Grey's Anatomy. I wasn't there to watch the Seahawks practice or catch a Mariners game. Instead, I was part of a trip with Texas Baptists to consider partnerships with church planters in the state. The local leaders introduced us to the famous market area downtown, and the welcoming package included a mug from the original Starbucks.

The line was blocks down the street outside the door. It was a comical picture to see people stand in line for hours to get a $5 cup of coffee, especially since another new Warm coffee in cupsStarbucks around the corner had hardly any visitors. It was the same coffee, without the long wait, but it did not have the ambiance of the original, I suppose. Starbucks has become all the rage to coffee drinkers the world over, but while I was in Seattle, I hoped to drink coffee from one of the local roasters, the private-owned stores who lacked the name recognition of the worldwide conglomerate, and in between stops, we were granted that very opportunity.

I soon learned that roasters were extremely particular about their blends and their brewing techniques, but it made me wonder the optimal temperature for consumption. According to various online sources, around 40 degrees Fahrenheit is optimal for iced coffee drinks; whereas, 136 degrees Fahrenheit stands as the preferred temperature for the hot coffee drinker. You could taste the quality for both iced and hot, respectively. But, one cup was extremely disappointing. We got busy, and it sat out for some time without any kind of insulation. It was about room temperature. It tasted bitter, almost like dirt.

This must have been how God felt in Revelation in the famous Laodicean passage. God's disdain for the congregation's lack of zeal and apathy in faith and practice stands central in the text: "You are neither hot nor cold...I wish you were one or the other... I am about to spit you out of my mouth." I heard preachers when I was younger say, "God either wants us all in, or all out; he doesn't want people who sit on the fence." I used to believe that was the central message, but now I am not so sure. I cannot believe God's desire is for anyone to be against him; this must mean something else.

As summer ends, I look forward to Fall. One reason is that cooler temperatures begin to prevail. It also means yard work becomes a minor factor. When mowing in the heat of a West Texas summer day, I look forward to an icy cold beverage. It brings such relief from the parched conditions! In the same respect, I enjoy the few times a year our family stays out of town for a trip. We always try to find a place with a hot tub. That hot water always seems to have a healing quality, bringing great relief, too. This is what God must have meant in his charge to the Laodiceans, "You should be relieving and healing the world." That's why I believe in the local church and in Baptist universities, because they promote that goal to their participants, but promoting a goal and accomplishing a goal are two different things.

I am sure the members of the Laodicean church would have shared this sentiment as their goal also. God's rebuke came down because they had lost sight of their goal. We have come to see rebuke and correction as either an abusive or coercive act today. I am not sure why we care so much about the idea of calling something right or wrong in the name of tolerance, but it has become normative to avoid such appearances. In the well-known Revelation passage, God's correction was not punitive; it was restorative. At the end of the words to the Laodiceans, God promises his presence in the church and offers them an opportunity to reinvigorate their faith. He offers the same to modern Christians too.

Even though I had that disappointing cup of coffee in the middle of "coffee paradise" in Seattle, it wasn't my last. It wasn't my most vivid memory of the trip to the Northwest. That bitter lukewarm cup was overshadowed by subsequent coffee offerings at other stops and great visits with people who do great ministry for the Lord. Beautiful scenery and landscapes still etch out places in my memory banks. I even got to bring some custom coffee grounds home with me where I enjoy them to this day, as if I got to bring back a part of Seattle with me.

If your faith and practice has been lukewarm or apathetic, God is in the business of re-regulating the core temperature of our walk with him. Have you been bringing relief and healing to your circle of people? What do your interactions with others produce in their lives? How about in your family? Your church? Your coworkers? Your neighbors? If you haven't, it is never too late to start.

Dr. Kris Knippa is pastor at First Baptist Church in Hale Center. He earned two Wayland degrees, a bachelor's degree in 1998 and the Master of Christian Ministry in 2010. He and wife Sharla, a 1995 and 2011 WBU graduate, have two daughters. Kamri is a junior at Wayland, and Kenzi attends Plainview High School.

From the History Files

In this month's History Files, we bring a glimpse into Wayland College life… circa 1939. What follows is part one of an excerpt from the late Vernon Jackson, a student in the late 1930s and one of four generations of his family who have attended Wayland. Our thanks to his grandson, Paul McGinnis, on the contribution. The second installment will be printed in the November issue.

In some respects it seems like only yesterday. In others, it seems light years away. Either way, I can remember every detail, every event in the spring and summer of 1939.

I was a student athlete at Wayland Baptist Junior College Vernon Jackson, basketballerand in the middle of basketball season. Things were pretty normal all things considered - classes each day, road games, odd jobs to pay for school, cafeteria food- except for one little detail. Mary Wilson wasn't a beauty queen or the best athlete but it never failed she grabbed my attention.

One day I had just finished a tough day of practice, when there was a knock at my door. I opened it and there stood a man I had never seen before. With little glitz and a stem voice, the man introduced himself as the head basketball and football coach for a college in New Mexico. He said he had seen me play several times, and before I could invite him in, he offered me a full scholarship to play for him at New Mexico A&M University. He left as quick as he came leaving me stunned and perplexed. I jumped on my bed and just lay there wondering what to think. Not ten minutes had gone by when a student yelled from down the hall,

"Jackson, Dr. McDonald wants to see you in his office."

As any college student would be, I became very nervous as I walked from the third floor of Gates Hall to the President's Office on the main floor. I was sure I had paid my bill for the semester and the prank on that last road trip to Abilene was harmless.

"Jackson," Dr. McDonald said in his typical quiet yet authoritative voice. "I've watched you. How you conduct yourself. Your leadership on our athletic teams. Your hard work in and out of the classroom. And I have an offer for you. I want you to run our bookstore."

Wow! So many things had happened in the last half hour. I was beginning to feel a little overwhelmed. Dr. McDonald continued.

"Now I know you're a very busy, young man, but I need someone I can count on, someone I can truly depend on. Jackson, it only pays $25 a month, but as you know that will pay for your room and board. What do you think?"

That was a fair question, but many other questions were running through my mind too. Should I pack up my things and venture off to New Mexico? Should I stay here and do Dr. McDonald a favor plus continue to struggle to keep the bills paid? And what about Mary Wilson? I had talked to her several times and though I still didn't know her very well, she was always on my mind.

"Do you mind if l take some time to think it over?" I replied, unsure if that was the answer he wanted to hear.

"You bet. I think any smart young man like yourself would think about a commitment like this. Take your time, Jackson." Dr. McDonald shook my hand firmly and led me out of his office.

The spring semester was coming to an end and I had failed to make any decisions regarding Vernon, circa 1940my future. Nothing had happened to confirm one choice or the other. Sure, Dr. McDonald occasionally stopped me in the hall and tried to persuade me to run the bookstore. And there was the official letter I received from New Mexico A&M detailing the full scholarship offer. Whatever the case, I still did not see a clear direction. I had been praying about it daily. I truly wanted to follow God's will for my life, but yet I had not seen Him guide me to a specific decision. I thought about talking to Mary Wilson about it. We had gone out a few times but why would she care what I did. We were just good friends as far as I could tell.

Summer came and before I knew it, it was 105 degrees coupled with a hot, West Texas wind blowing constantly. As I plugged away at odd jobs, I finally reached my decision. I would take the scholarship offer and transfer to New Mexico A&M. It would provide for all my needs - tuition, room and board, even a little spending money. Wayland could never offer me such an opportunity and as for Mary Wilson, well, I was sure there were women just as nice in New Mexico.

August rolled around, and I decided to go visit my sister in Arizona before I headed to my new school. Hitch hiking was a common mode of transportation, so I raised my thumb and hoped for the best. Sure enough, I caught a ride from Lubbock to El Paso and another from El Paso to Las Cruces. The two guys I was riding with dropped me off at an old country store right outside of the city limits. A salesman was coming out of the store and offered to take me into town.

"Where you headed, son?" he asked.

"Globe, Arizona, sir." I replied. I wasn't even sure he heard me.

He continued, "Ever been in these parts?"

"No, sir. But I am coming here to play basketball and football at New Mexico A&M this fall." Now this statement caught his attention.

"Oh really. Well, heck, I need to take you to see Coach then."

Before long, he was leading me in a run-down cafe, pointing to a small table over in the comer.

To be continued in November issue.


Distinguished Alumni Awards announced

Five awards will be given during the Blue and Gold Homecoming banquet slated for Nov. 1 at the Laney Center, starting at 5 p.m. Tickets are $15 per person for a full meal and the banquet, which also includes the presentation of the Pioneers of Promise Awards to students from each academic school.

Honorees from the campus are as follows:

Dr. Vaughn Ross, Distinguished Alumni Award: Dr. Ross earned Dr. Vaughn Rosshis degree in 1967, then spent a few years teaching biology before heading to Kenya to work in community health for Baptist clinics. He and wife Johnene spent 19 years in Africa before returning to Plainview for Dr. Ross to return to the classroom as a Professor of Biology. After 15 years at WBU, he retired and was named Professor Emeritus.

Brandon Inman, Distinguished Alumni Award: A former Pioneer Brandon InmanBaseballer, Inman graduated from Wayland in 1998. He worked in retail management before moving into the financial services business for seven years. He then had the opportunity to work with State Farm Insurance as a financial analyst, then took over the agency in Monahans, Texas, in 2011. He and wife Amy are part of a family vineyard in Childress and have a winery as well.


Bradley Sell, Distinguished Young Alumni Award: Sell Bradley Sellearned a degree in 2011 while working at the Broadway Brew and pole vaulting as part of the WBU track team. A few years later, he was managing the popular downtown Plainview hangout and purchased it in 2014. He and wife Allison are active in ministry and church planting through Redeemer Lubbock.


Dr. Vernon and Mrs. Belva Stokes, Distinguished Alumni Benefactor Award: Belva Stokes graduated in 1960 after playing two years for the Flying Vernon and Belva StokesQueens; Dr. Vernon Stokes graduated in 1959. The two spent careers in public school education as teachers and administrators, and Dr. Stokes retired after being a superintendent. They have been generous supporters of Wayland for many decades, establishing two scholarships and giving to most every cause at the university. Dr. Stokes also served on the WBU Board of Trustees for many years.


Danny Murphree, Distinguished Lifetime Service Award: First coming to Wayland Danny Murphreeas a track runner, Danny is a 1969 graduate and a longtime employee. He served as the track assistant coach, then was on staff and helped coach the Queen Bees. After a hiatus farming in his hometown of Friona, Murphree returned to the WBU staff in 1988, where he has worked in the business office and has overseen Wayland's farm properties for decades since.

To read more about each honoree, click on their name to link to a press release.


We're looking for some young Pioneer fans!

This year's homecoming football game will feature some of the usual fan interaction fun and activities starting at noon at Bulldog Stadium. But we've added a new feature to involve the youngest Pioneer fans among us.

The children's spirit parade is an opportunity for your littles (ages birth through 15) to show off their Pioneer Pride in true gameday fashion and compete for a WBU kids' prize package. We'll start the parade at 1 p.m. in the Pioneer Pals area inside the south entry gate.

Children will be divided into smaller age ranges for the competition: birth through 35 months, 3-8, 9-15. The youngest group may be carried by a parent for the parade, while the older groups will walk themselves through the parade, showing off their spirit attire and cheers. There is no charge to compete.

Families can register in advance by emailing Teresa.Young@wbu.edu or by registering for homecoming at this online link: https://www.wbu.edu/alumni-and-donors/homecoming.htm and mentioning children's parade in the "Special Needs" section. Include the name and age of any participants.

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