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MY STORY

I'm just your average guy with a not-so-average story.

EARLY LIFE

My name is Chandler Quinn Heath. Growing up in Kennesaw, Georgia, where I spent the first eighteen years of my life was nothing to write home about. I wasn't the most popular kid in school, athletic, or intelligent. I was, however, a very hard worker. My parents always told me my superpower was working hard to accomplish what I wanted. Despite having test anxiety and needing to take the SAT five times to get the scores I wanted, having to hang up my sports career early because of back-to-back knee surgeries, and a lack of self-confidence because I didn't know what to wear each day, I managed to find my way in life.

Like many young teenagers, I lacked self-confidence, which I tried to hide daily. I had a poor sense of style; I wore the same tattered black fitness shirt to school almost every day for nearly two years because I thought it was the only thing in my closet that made me look "good."

Luckily, I had to wear a uniform to school twice a week because I was in the Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (NJROTC) at my high school. This program would be a small step that would eventually lead me to where I am today. I found tremendous success there and stuck with riding the military wave because I was good at it. This was when I determined that I had a passion for leadership and concluded that the military would be for me.

So, I applied to numerous college ROTC programs and scholarships across all service branches. With the help of my parents, my local Congressman, and two retired Senior Naval Officers who took a risk on me despite not being the best applicant, I earned a four-year NROTC scholarship to my chosen school. The agreement was that the U.S. Navy would cover my undergraduate degree in exchange for five years of active duty service as a commissioned line Officer. Still, first things first, I needed a degree.

NORWICH UNIVERSITY

I chose to stick with what I knew. After feeling that I was a little fish in a big pond in high school, I sought to be a big fish in a smaller pond at Norwich University in Northfield, Vermont. Norwich is a military school for those who don't know (probably most of you). It has a Corps of Cadets who wear uniforms, march around, abide by rank and authoritative structures, and participate in various ceremonial and extracurricular activities. I thought, "why not?" If I was good at this sort of thing in high school, why not level up to a place where everyone wore a uniform to class every day and sought the same kind of life I did? So, I enrolled in the School of Business at Norwich and never looked back.

While at Norwich, I started dipping my toe into the menswear world. You can imagine that wearing a uniform every day to classes doesn't allow for self-expression, so, on weekends, as an upperclassman, I would find opportunities to dress in some unique ways, which felt good. I started looking into style advice on places like YouTube and menswear blogs to get an idea of what I wanted to wear.

I'll never forget my days at the "Wick" (what we alumni refer to our alma mater as). At the time, I was sucked into the politics of the Corps (and there were a great many). If you'd asked me if I liked Norwich while attending, I probably would have told you that I wished I had gone to a state school where I didn't have to abide by so many rules, and there was seemingly more to do. Instead, I was at this small, 200-year-old private military college, getting yelled at, marching around, having room and uniform inspections daily, etc.

But you know what?

Looking back, these were some of the best times of my life. Even as I write this, I can't help but get emotional just thinking of the many adventures I had, the lessons I learned (good and bad), and the people who made it all special. When I tell others of my time at Norwich and our unique traditions, I can tell by their wide-eyed expressions that their college experiences probably weren't as unique. Thank God for all of it.

Climb to Conquer

At Norwich, I sharpened my leadership skills and found that my passion for coaching and mentoring others was even more profound than I had initially thought. This excited me even more to enter the Fleet as a Naval Officer. So, I graduated with my Bachelor of Science in Business Management and was commissioned as an Ensign in the U.S. Navy. My first assignment as a newly minted Division Officer was onboard the USS PRINCETON, a guided missile Cruiser out of San Diego, California. I had the privilege of selecting this ship as my first assignment, and I was excited. I had never been to California before, and now, I would live there.

I had no idea what I was in store for.

USS PRINCETON (CG-59)

Honor & Glory. Photo from Shutterstock. For Editorial Use Only.

As a green Ensign, the lowest of the Officer ranks, my biggest priority was earning my qualifications to become a Surface Warfare Officer (SWO) and my warfare pin. Chief among these qualifications is a letter signed by the ship's Commanding Officer designating me as a qualified Officer of the Deck (OOD) who navigates the vessel and takes it where it needs to go to meet the mission. This effort usually takes Junior Officers over a year to obtain, but not everyone's timeline is the same. I had thirty months to do it—plenty of time, right?

U.S. Navy Surface Warfare Officer Designation Pin. Photo from Shutterstock. For Editorial Use Only.

I'll never forget my first few months onboard the USS PRINCETON. They were hard. Hard work, yes, but not as challenging as facing the reality that the Navy was not in the cards for me in the long term. While onboard, I was the Strike Officer within the weapons department and served with a fine group of Officers and an even finer group of Enlisted Sailors who helped me grow and mature as a leader and man. Here, I realized my passion was not ship-driving but leading, coaching, and mentoring in other areas of life. Juggling the demands of leading sailors with obtaining my pin and designation letter was intensely challenging because I was not naturally a good mariner. It didn't help that I was (and still am) a slow learner, and in the military, there is often little patience for those who can't "get it."

This was when imposter syndrome began to settle in for me. I began believing that my place in the Navy was a mistake and that I did not belong. I felt like this for the longest time and began dreaming of doing something else. However, I was still committed to upholding the five years I owed the service and applied my tried-and-true methodology of working as hard as possible. In time (longer than I would have liked), I obtained my pin, designation letter, and even some additional qualifications typically reserved for more senior personnel in the Navy by the time it was all said and done. Still, I wasn't all that great, just a hard worker and "good enough."

FIRST DEPLOYMENT (COVID-19)

"The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday"

We can all remember where we were during COVID-19 in 2020 or at least what it was like for us. The three-hundred-plus Crew of the USS PRINCETON was deployed as a part of the NIMITZ Carrier Strike Group. Our journey began together just after the White House declared a national emergency in March 2020. The pandemic shifted many of the schedules in the Fleet around, and ours was no different.

From the start of our journey, I knew this would not be a "normal" deployment, and it wasn't. For me and many others, this was our very first deployment, and our journey took us from the South China Sea to the Arabian Gulf, lasting over three hundred days in total. During that period, the world was in lockdown, and the Navy followed through with its procedures for reducing the spread of COVID-19 to deployed units around the globe. For us, it meant that out of about three hundred days, only sixteen were spent physically moored (tied) to a pier and attached to land. When we managed to pull into ports on our journey, we could not leave the dock or "touch" the outside world.

This was the most challenging time of my life. Following numerous extensions, with orders to turn around and "go back" after transiting towards homeport San Diego, everyone within our Strike Group faced extreme fatigue.

This period sharpened me, hardened me, and forced me to get good at being operational out to sea; up until this point, I didn't consider myself to be a very good mariner, but doing something every single day for six to eight hours in the most highly stressful areas of operation for the Navy made me much better. You see, that is the job, and even as I write these words now, some young Ensign or Lieutenant are right where I was all those years ago, feeling the heat. They have the watch.

I'll never forget the day I left the USS PRINCETON. Following a record-breaking deployment on February 19th, 2021, I stepped off with my closest friend and never returned on board again.

USS MANCHESTER (LCS-14)

Labor Vincit. Photo from Shutterstock. For Editorial Use Only.

After departing the USS PRINCETON, I exchanged my experience in the weapons department for a time in the engineering department as the Auxiliary Officer on the USS MANCHESTER for my second Division Officer tour. As a SWO, jumping around various areas throughout the Fleet is customary, but ship handling is the common denominator we all share within our community. This kept me stationed in San Diego, California, which was nice because I wanted to stay.

My time on the USS MANCHESTER was far different than my time on PRINCETON. The propulsion system on this Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) was not the typical propeller and rudder design but instead cutting-edge water jets. This completely changes how an OOD pilots the ship, so a long slew of schools and specialized training awaited me before taking the deck. Eventually, I would make it through the schooling and pick up where I left off from my previous ship as a second-time OOD.

THE BLOG

Despite feeling much better about my place in the Navy, I still felt drawn to doing something else. At this point, I realized how influential and monetarily viable blogs could be, and my interest in menswear skyrocketed. I had always loved writing (the portion of the SAT that I didn't need to retake numerous times), and anyone who knows me will tell you that I have no shortage of opinions or things to say. I took comfort in knowing that building my website could allow me to continue to lead, mentor, and teach about various topics on my terms. With my increasing interest in menswear, I knew this would be a focal point for my niche, but I wasn't yet clear on why I wanted to take the plunge in building this brand that, at the time, only existed in my head.

That's just it, though. I was thinking with my head. My brain told me to find a way to "make money" online, but my heart told me something different. After much prayer, reflection, and contemplation, it seemed apparent where God was leading me on this journey.

I see a world where there are a lot of men who are hurting. They don't have much guidance, are not inspired, and feel compelled to latch onto these larger-than-life internet personalities who claim they want to help them but never actually do so. I was personally blessed to have some great parents, but I know all too well that not every man can say the same. What we wear isn't everything, but our appearance communicates something to the world about us. After all, humans are visual creatures in most instances. We all have a response to the things we see, whether it be art, clothing, events unfolding before us, etc.

What if I could use my knowledge and expertise to help men build confidence and use the reasonably simple method of dressing well as a gateway to living a more purposeful life?

At first, I thought many men on the internet already give or sell advice for these things. However, as I looked closer, I realized that these businesses were often selling poor advice or advice that wasn't accessible to the average guy. My mission quickly became much more apparent.

You could say I was bit by the creative and entrepreneurial "bugs," and I wanted more. Even as a child, I loved creating things, so I took to Canva, whipped up a starter logo, researched which domain names were available and affordable, and tried to communicate something about what my brand was all about, and more importantly, why it exists in the first place.

Version 1

GENTLEMAN

Call me old-fashioned, but chivalry isn't dead. Not by a long shot. To be a gentleman is to be a man; a man in the truest sense is to realize that we were put on this earth to lead well, inspire, and allow life to flourish and thrive. To be a true gentleman is to be a man of purpose, chivalry, initiative, honor, respect, and virtue. I want Gentleman's Flair to be a brand that enables men from all walks of life to strive to become the men they know themselves to be. This is where I want to lead my fellow gentlemen.

FLAIR

To have flair means to possess an exceptional aptitude or ability to do something well. I want us all to become the men who can showcase flair in many areas, whether dressing, leading, inspiring, or simply living well. This is my hope and mission.

MOONLIGHTING

While working full-time as an active-duty military member, I was trying to build a website and brand with absolutely zero web design experience. It was a tumultuous endeavor (and still is). With my second deployment on the horizon and getting sucked into the minutia of my day job, I was forced to moonlight as an entrepreneur and creative. Many nights were spent at my desk in my tiny studio apartment, teaching myself to do all this. While the world was sleeping, I worked and determined to make my dream a reality. Each element I dove deeper into revealed even more hope for myself to make this dream come true, and I derived profound enjoyment and fulfillment from doing so.

With another deployment rapidly approaching and my heart set on getting the ball rolling, I thought I had a reasonable amount of time to reach a good stopping point before returning in late 2023 to pick up where I left off. It turned out God had other plans for me during this time.

ELISE SOPHIA

Proverbs 3:15-18

I'll never forget November 26th, 2022. I drove from San Diego to Laguna Beach, California, to meet a woman I had briefly corresponded with but had never met in person. She lived and worked in the Los Angeles area as a young exhibition designer, so we met halfway.

Our original intent was to meet for coffee and walk around the beach and town, getting to know one another. What was intended to be only an hour or two turned into ten hours of honest, intimate, and enlightening conversation. When I walked away from our first date that evening, I knew I would marry this woman. God had led me to this very moment, and when God tells us what to do, we cannot hesitate.

The next few months were a careful balance of visiting one another and working within our jobs. Elise was busy leading several projects at the J. Paul Getty Museum, and I was gearing up for my second deployment with the USS MANCHESTER.

As a fellow creative (far more creative than I could ever hope to be), Elise shared in my love and vision for the Gentleman's Flair brand. Until now, my vision for this blog hadn't received much encouragement. The average person doesn't understand what I was trying to do, but Elise did, and from day one of meeting her, she was my encourager-in-chief.

About three months into dating, we began engagement ring shopping and planning for our future together. When you know, you know.

SECOND DEPLOYMENT

Now a part of a minimally manned, rotational Crew and (thanks to COVID-19) the most experienced ship driver onboard, I had to step up and be the "go-to guy" for taking the ship where it needed to go. This pushed me far outside my comfort zone. As mentioned, I wasn't naturally a great mariner leading up to this point, but this ship had never deployed, much less gone to the places we operated in. Our adventures put us in many stressful and sticky situations, but these were moments when I had to perform as an elite OOD and not by choice.

Suddenly, I went from a slightly above-average mariner to something greater. I can't tell you what changed or how I managed to get as good as I did, but I will say that God took control of my mind and hands on numerous occasions, and because of this, I was able to not only do my job and help keep everyone safe but pilot our ship in ways that very few other Officers in the Fleet could manage to do. I can't take credit for that; no human being ever could. It was all God. Plain and simple.

While deployed, Elise and I had a wedding to plan. We didn't want to wait, so we got to it despite being a world apart.

A NEW CHAPTER

Directly following my return home from deployment, I (officially) proposed to Elise on the same beach we had met nearly a year prior. Within a month, on November 11th, 2023, we were married on my grandparent's front porch in Lawrenceville, Georgia. Never before have I been more happy than that day. A true gift from God, it was.

So, Mr. and Mrs. Heath were off for a brief honeymoon to a Georgia winery; then, it was back to our life in San Diego. Here, the rubber met the road, and my incredible bride started helping me realize our shared dream of being a force for good in the world and men's lives. She even reimagined our branding and used her professional skills to take things to the next level.

Version 2

ONWARD

Average guys have average problems unique to each of us, whether budgetary constraints, low self-esteem, poor personal appearance, responsibilities that consume so much of our time, or a lack of knowledge about caring for ourselves, etc.

Simply put, nobody probably showed them how to navigate these areas of life, and when they observe some of the men who pledge to help teach us, they're puzzled when they recommend that we wear clothes from luxury brands or give us life advice that doesn't seem to measure up.

I started this blog to change all of that. My time in the military has shown me that how we dress, carry, and present ourselves directly impacts the successes that we can enjoy in our lives. Whether we like it or not, our appearance matters and isn't limited to what we wear.

I want to thank you for taking the time to read my story and express interest in this creation of mine. No matter who you are or what you think or believe, you are always welcome here, and your success in life is important to me. Regardless of your involvement in this brand, my wife and I will pray for you and the millions of other men worldwide who occasionally need inspiration. Hopefully, we can provide that to you and simultaneously inspire you to be the man you know yourself to be.

Most Sincerely,

Chandler Quinn Heath

“A man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before great men.” -Proverbs 18:16

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