Custom clothier Eugene Marion Brown Sr. was being remembered Friday for "his grit, determination and will" to be successful as a young African American starting a business back in 1973.
Brown, the founder of Brown & Brown Custom Clothiers at 5454 Government St., died at age 70 on March 1.
What made Brown successful for more than 45 years was his compassion about his business and product and his desire for customers to look nice, his son O'Lindsey Brown said Friday.
"This is what I saw my father do all of my life," he said, describing him as "very genuine" and "people-oriented." He liked having a relationship and personal connection to customers, knowing what they were looking for in a garment and style and notifying them about new merchandise.
Brown was born in 1949 in Savannah, Georgia, graduating from high school there, then Georgia Southern University in 1971. During and after college, Brown worked for a clothing retailer that had stores in Georgia and other states and was asked by the owner to manage the Fashions Ltd. location in downtown Baton Rouge, O'Lindsey Brown said.
It was in Baton Rouge that Brown met his wife of the past 43 years, Denise Ann Juge, and decided to go into business by buying the downtown store. It eventually relocated to Interline Avenue near the former Robinson Brothers Lincoln car dealership before settling in at its Government Street location around 2000, O'Lindsey Brown said.
Initially, garments were stock retail merchandise, but Brown & Brown got into hand-made garments in the 1990s. Brown traveled the world and developed relationships with tailors that are still in tact and continue to underpin the business, O'Lindsey Brown. The bulk of the business is custom clothing, but the store does have some off-the-rack items that can be altered to fit.
O'Lindsey Brown said he's been involved in the business for about two years and his brother Eugene Brown II over the past 15 years. Both will be partners in the business, carrying on their father's legacy, he said. Their father suffered a heart attack in 2017 and had more health issues last year that took him away from the business he loved, O'Lindsey Brown said. "He was still trying to run things from the hospital bed for sure," he said.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Word of Life Christian Center, 40066 La. 22, Darrow, where Brown was an active member and spearheaded a program to help those struggling with drug addiction.
O'Lindsey Brown said the family has received an outpouring of condolences from people whose lives his father impacted from his church and community activities and business relationships.