Becoming a parent in your teenage years can be a difficult situation for everyone involved. At that point, there are some tough decisions to make. Do you go away to college? Do you stay and start a family? What’s best for your child? In our Spotlight Father of the week interview, Melanated Father’s America had the opportunity to speak with Sacramento, Ca. business owner Johnnie Nolen. We discussed growing up in a two-parent home, teenage fatherhood & How he started his first business at 8 years old.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in San Jose CA, we moved to Sacramento in 1987 to an area known as Oak Park on 4th ave, at the time we were so young we had no idea what type of neighborhood oak park was. Come to find out we were surrounded by pimps, prostitutes, gangs, and drugs, but being that I came from a solid household my parents kept us far away from it to the point where we didn’t even notice it.
It’s amazing to me that you were around that type of violence and didn’t even know it. You mentioned that you had both parents in the home growing up. Can you talk about that experience?
You know what man, that was pretty fucking amazing, and I thank my parents every day for staying together to raise my brothers and I because it made such a huge impact on my life and the person I am today. To me, it was normal to have a father figure and male role model in the house. Someone who provided, protected and taught his kids everything he knows, I was under the impression all kids knew what I knew until I noticed none of my friends could change a flat tire like me, work on cars, landscape, cook or even hustle. I appreciate my dad for leading us by example and taking the time to make sure his kids were prepared for the real world, it really keeps me 1 step ahead of the game!!
Do you have kids?
Absolutely, I have two soldiers Johnnie B Nolen the 4th, which is 18 and Jayden Nolen who is 12 and I will do anything and everything for my boys to make sure they succeed in life. I saw how my dad moved with us, so I do the same, led by example, protect, provide and test their knowledge occasionally to make sure they’re soaking up game.
Sounds to me like you take parenting seriously. How has your father influenced how you parent your kids today?
I definitely learned a lot from my dad, he taught me how to be a man. He taught me how to provide, he taught me how to be there for my kids and teach them.
How old were you when you had your first son?
I had my oldest son when I was 18 years old.
Wow!! It had to be tough becoming a parent so young. How was that experience?
It was different because at the time I was the only kid in my high school having a child. I felt like I was a baby, having a baby. But you know, as time goes on you learn to be more responsible and independent and and less selfish because it’s no longer just about you,you now have a mouth to feed.
Being that you started as a parent so young. What are some of the growing pains you’ve experienced along the way?
The most difficult thing for me was the fact that I had my son in December of 1998, I received a Football scholarship to the University of Nebraska-Omaha in early 2000 so I only had a little over a year to bond with my son, it was extremely hard leaving him at that time because I always wanted my kids to have both parents in the household. In the back of my mind I knew I was going to better myself by going to college, which would improve his future as well. That was a hard decision to make but I don’t regret it.
Furthering your education is a terrific way to invest in your future, so I completely understand why you made that decision. Now, being that you have a teenager there is something else I wanted to touch on. Many parents find it difficult to communicate with their kids once they began to get older. Do you find that to be a problem at all?
It’s funny that you ask me this question right now!! My children and I are extremely close, and we have a bond that’s pretty dope. However, as my older son Johnnie started to grow into a man he kind of started to distance himself away from me a little, but after talking and rectifying the problem he told me that I was being too hard on him and I get it, So I explained that I can be a drill sergeant at times and I’m sorry, but that was how I was raised, so, unfortunately, you have to lick your wounds and have tough skin because your not always going to like what you hear from people, take it for what it is worth and keep moving forward. Giving constructive criticism and being the disciplinarian parent is hard at times, but so necessary. Recently we got back on track though, it took for me to send him to his mom’s house for a couple of weeks and what do you know, his ass snapped back into shape fast. I think he needed the time away, so he can appreciate the life I created for him and the love that we share. My youngest son Jayden doesn’t give me any problems at all because he is only 12 but I’m sure they’re coming in some fashion (laughter). He is like a sponge though, he soaks up game with the best of them and right now he takes direction very well, so I don’t see any backlash over constructive criticism or disciplining with this kid.
Ok, sounds like you figured out a parenting style that works for you, which isn’t easy to do I might add. Based on your years of experience, if you could give advice to any teenage fathers out there what would it be?
Focus on making the relationship work with the mother of your child. It’s nothing like having two parents in the household to learn from both your mother and father. I can’t stress that enough. It makes such an enormous difference for all kids. Don’t be selfish, do it for the child because nine times out of ten it will make him or her a better person.
That’s some sound advice, I agree with you. Nothing compares to having both your father and mother in the home. I wanted to switch gears a little bit here and talk about your business. You’ve designed a new product, right?
Absolutely, so I came up with this invention called the Clean Cover Hair Mat. I came up with the idea in 2013 while still a full-time employee with a major wireless phone company. The concept of the clean cover is a mat that goes over your sink so when you are shaving or grooming yourself, all the messy hair and particles that would normally mess up your bathroom will now fall onto the mat. At that point, you just shake it off into the garbage can.
Ok, I get it. So instead of using a towel like I normally do. I can use the clean cover?
Exactly, The Clean Cover Kit will definitely cut down the cleanup process by 99% and you will always have a clean and organized bathroom after grooming. I just released a New Version of the Clean Cover and it now comes with a Beard Shaper and Beard brush to make the hair cutting experience even easier!!
Now you mentioned that you were employed by a major wireless phone company. What made you make the transition from being an employee to owning your own business?
Well, as a kid I always wanted to own my own business. I came from a background of entrepreneurs on both sides of the family. My grandfather on my dad’s side, Johnnie B Nolen was a very successful farmer in Delano, CA. He did that for 30 years. On my mom’s side, my grandfather Willie Way owned a cleaners, a hamburger stand and a night club. So being an entrepreneur was always in my blood. I remember when I was 8 years old. I started a recycling business with my brother. We would wake up every morning and go around to all the apartment complexes to collect cans. So, from then on, I always dreamed of being my own boss. I’m a big dreamer and I’ve always believed if you can dream it, you can achieve it. Working for a major wireless company really showed me the ways of running a business as far as how to market and promote your product. And just being a good business man overall comes from being in that environment.
It’s good to see that you are following the groundwork that was already laid for you by your grandparents. Business ownership doesn’t happen in a lot of families, so that’s good to see. Ok, so to wrap everything up. Where can all of our readers find the clean cover?
You can visit your local Walmart, Walmart.com, Amazon or CleanCoverCare.com.
Ok, Johnnie Thank you for taking the time to talk with Melanated Fathers of America!!!