Talley & Twine CEO to give keynote address at Wayne State’s MLK tribute

As the CEO of the country’s largest Black-owned watch company, Randy Williams says he wants to build upon the legacy Dr. King lived and died for.

a Black man in a blazer smiles in front of greenery with "Talley & Twine" sign

Talley & Twine CEO Randy Williams.

Talley & Twine was founded in 2013 and seemingly came out of nowhere. The luxury brand has been featured in Men’s Health, Cosmopolitan and even as a featured prize on The Price is Right. But how did Talley & Twine grow into a multi-million dollar company?

The watch brand is the brainchild of CEO Randy D. Williams and COO Eric Heyward. The brand has grown to be a favorite among watch-wearers, but according to Williams, it most definitely was not an overnight success story.

“I didn’t want it to be a company that just came out of nowhere and just tried to stand on its own. It was a company that was built on something and for a reason. I think having those companies that are a little bit more deeply rooted in the community is really, really important and that really builds brand loyalty as well.

two watches with green, black and red striped wristbands and black faces with black hands and numbers
Talley & Twine’s limited-edition “Juneteenth” design.

Williams didn’t really have a plan when he began to research and develop ideas, he just knew he wanted a watch that was fashionable and stood out. Like many aspiring entrepreneurs, YouTube and Google became the classroom. He says he feels lucky to live in a time of free information, when people like him have historically been excluded from such knowledge.

“I think more entrepreneurs should use that to their advantage and be grateful that we live in an age where you don’t have to seek that information out from someone who’s reluctant to give it to you.”

Recently, The Talley & Twine Scholarship fund was created for students at Albany State University. It will award $2,500 each Fall semester to selected undergraduates majoring in business. The company makes it a mission to give back to the community it serves in Georgia, especially with groups that address homelessness, youth reading and improving birth rates in the Black community.

Williams says one of the reasons the company has thrived is because it uplifts the community that raised him.

“We’re not just a company that sells watches. From our inception, we’ve always given to local nonprofits and charities and figured out ways to help, whether it be homeless shelters or working with law enforcement or sponsoring events for nonprofits.”

silver watch with a deep blue face
Talley & Twine’s “Blue & Silver” men’s metal band watch design.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Wayne State University is hosting its annual tribute to Dr. King with the theme “Economic Freedom Through Social Justice.”

Williams will be the keynote speaker at this year’s tribute. He says he wants to build upon the legacy Dr. King lived and died for.

“I think there are things we can learn from his life and from his legacy that we can use to empower us economically.”

The formal speaking event is Friday, Jan. 13 from 10 a.m. to noon in the Mike Ilitch School of Business Lear Auditorium.

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Author

  • Tia Graham

    Tia Graham is a reporter and Weekend Edition Host for 101.9 WDET. She graduated from Michigan State University where she had the unique privilege of covering former President Barack Obama and his trip to Lansing in 2014.