How This Style Leader Built a Freelance Business from Scratch

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Dathias Godfrey for Kenneth Cole

Dathias Godfrey, a public relations assistant turned content creator, was born and raised in Lansing, Michigan, with eight siblings. He attended Michigan State University, studying graphic design and advertising, then swiftly moved to New York City to pursue his dream of working in public relations.

“All my friends thought it was crazy that I would move to New York without a job offer and straight up pack my bags,” he tells us. We’re tapping Godfrey for Kenneth Cole’s “What Moves You” campaign, an initiative capturing the true motivation behind your favorite movers and shakers in style.

Growing up, in middle and high school, this trendsetter was always creative, dabbling in fashion and photography. His parents, immigrants from Vietnam, instilled an unwavering passion in him to never give up, and he cites his many sisters as providing invaluable mentorship. “My parents worked any job they could to support our family. Seeing them struggle motivated me to never give up,” he says.

Spoiler: Godfrey ended up nailing that public relations job he hoped for. But three years ago he started to feel that itch again—this time to explore a career in content a freelancer. He didn’t know if he would be able to hack it, but quickly realized the timeliness of his youth. “It was either now or never,” he says. “If I failed, I could at least fail and learn something from it.” So, he took the leap. At first, he struggled and he doubted his decision to quit a stable position with a reliable income and benefits. However, he relentlessly searched for businesses that needed a freelance content creator or photographer, even posting and searching on Craigslist.

Eventually, after a tenacious few months, he established recurring business shooting look books and social media content for brands. Currently, Godfrey runs a website called Modern Man Journal—a lifestyle and career hub where he manages freelance editors and continues to contribute editorially.

His Instagram is also a testament to his creative success, boasting collaborations as well as his own eye-catching fits. Lately, he’s been rocking Kenneth Cole’s RocketPod Leather Chukka Sneakers. They look like polished, work-appropriate shoes, but they are made with sneaker-like insoles called The Rebound System IP, so he can move through his day with panache. 

To balance his daily life, he cites patience as his key virtue. “Don’t be afraid to fail. Like it or not, failing isn’t a bad thing. It’s just a learning experience. I had many bills and lots of pressure to succeed when I was first starting. But it was all a learning experience,” he says.

Don’t be afraid to fail. Like it or not, failing isn’t a bad thing. It’s just a learning experience.

- Dathias Godfrey, Style Leader