Entrepreneur Alex Cunny Ross wins Inspiring Youth award
North-end man inspires through clothing line and mentorship
February 7, 2018, 11:46 am ASTLast Updated: February 7, 2018, 4:04 pm AST'
At 21, Alex Cunny Ross is already a leader and role model in his Halifax neighbourhood of Uniacke Square.
Walking along Gottingen Street, passersby greet him with fist bumps and bear hugs. Ross stops to talk with every one of them, asking about their lives and if there’s anything he can do for them.
A rising entrepreneur who created the clothing line, Family Over Fame, Ross was awarded the Family SOS Inspiring Youth Award last weekend for his work in the community.
But he remains humble and grounded.
“Uniacke will always be my home. If the brand gets bigger or not, it’ll always be my home,” he says.
Born and raised in Uniacke Square, the soft-spoken entrepreneur has already made an impact as hip-hop recording artist. FOF, which focuses on the idea of staying connected to home, features hats, T-shirts and sweaters.
“It’s about always putting your family first. Your family can be your neighbours, co-workers, someone in need — anybody. That’s why the brand is so diverse,” says Ross.
Last summer, Ross held Family Over Fame Day in Uniacke Square. More than 400 people turned out for free food and live music.
“People really stereotype where I’m from; I just wanted to bring something positive to my community and let people know there is something positive here,” says Ross.
The launch of his clothing line came about in an unusual way. He started selling shirts to promote a new album he recorded in 2015. He sold out in less than 30 minutes, with people asking when he’d have more.
The company took off last year when he joined the Enactus Options Youth Program at Saint Mary’s University. They helped him secure an internship with Alex MacLean of East Coast Lifestyle, where he learned the ins and outs of the clothing industry.
Meredith Brost, co-president of Enactus, is impressed with Ross and his accomplishments.
“The brand represents his passion for his community and shows how much he cares, the way he inspires his community is something that I would love to be able to do,” said Brost who was at the event at Uniacke Square last summer.
Ross’ dedication to his community was also noticed by the Halifax North Memorial Public Library, which hired Ross as a part-time librarian and youth support worker in December. Marcus James is in charge of community engagement at the library and he believes having Ross at the branch is an asset for teens. James also mentored Ross when he was younger.
“He’s doing some amazing things,” says James. “He displays a real nurturing care for things that happen in his community. And at a young age, he’s giving back what was given to him and he understands exactly what that means through the work that he does.”
Ross wants to be a role model for kids who live in Uniacke Square.
“Just showing these young kids that if they feel they don’t have a way out, they can look up to myself, (district councillor) Lindell Smith and Marcus James,” says Ross. “People that are doing positive things in the community.”
Ross plans to continue growing his business while mentoring the teens at the library. He’s excited to see the next group of entrepreneurs, scholars and athletes make their mark.
“There’s going to be more upcoming people with positive mindsets as well,” he says.