Dressed for successEx-Streak Hastings a player in music, fashionJames Hastings, a 1991 Galesburg High School gradand former basketball player, who has foundedJimshoes Entertainment.By ZACK CREGLOWThe Register-MailOn the basketball court, James Hastings was an opportunist. Few thought the rotund Hastingswould even make the squad, so when he entered a Galesburg High School boys basketball gamehe never hesitated, hoisting 3-pointers any chance he got.“I was known for hitting threes,” said Hastings, a 1991 GHS graduate. “My senior year, that’s whatI was known for, coming in and popping a couple threes.”
So it turns out, his approach in life isn’t at all different than his on hardwood — take every shotyou get.Some people wait for opportunity to unveil itself, holding tight until it does. Hastings seeks it out,and after jetsetting across the Midwest, his life has winded back to his first loves — music andfashion.Hastings, who founded the Champaign-based music management Jimshoes Entertainment in2003, recently launched his own fashion line of the same name. The clothes are available topurchase online at his company’s Web site, www.jimshoes.com, or at select urban clothing outletsin Urbana, Champaign and Decatur.“I just launched in November, so we are only a good month into it,” said Hastings, who promotesthe clothing with television commercials on BET, MTV and TNT. “But sales are picking up.”Branching out into fashion only seemed natural to Hastings, who works also as an outpatientcoder for doctors in central Illinois. “That’s the way I was thinking,” the 34-year-old Hastingssaid. “Music is so influential in people’s everyday lives. I thought this could rub into that.”Hastings’ odyssey into fashion and music began as a child in Galesburg, where he learned fromhis parents, the Rev. Charles and Malinda Jackson, the importance of the two.His father was a reverend at the Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church, 153 E. Tompkins St., and Hastingswas immersed in the musical culture of religion, listening to choirs from across the midwest.Later, when he reached high school, Hastings was a member of the band as a drummer.“It blossomed from there,” Malinda Jackson said.So did his knack for fashion.Dressing well was never an option in that household, what with his father a reverend and hismother a woman who was raised believing in the saying “dress for success.”“That’s the way I was brought up,” Malinda Jackson said. “You didn’t have to have the latest style,but if you were clean and well-groomed, you could go farther.”The social skills that allowed Hastings to network his way into music and fashion as an outsiderwere apparent from a young age, remembers former Silver Streaks star Elmer Dickerson. WhenHastings moved to Galesburg in junior high, the two clicked. Quickly, Hastings made friends withthe other boys from the neighborhood — like Streaks gridiron legend Mikki Johnson — and wasplaying backyard football with them in a matter of weeks.
“We hit it off like we knew each other from birth.”In high school, Hastings tried out for the varsity squad. There were many whispers that there wasno way Hastings, a heavy kid with limited athletic ability, could make the squad.Those doubters were proved wrong.“The more people say he couldn’t do it, the harder he would apply himself to do it,” Dickersonsaid. “A lot of people didn’t think he would make the basketball team, and he did.“Jimmy, he’s the type of kid who if he said he wanted to be president, you better look out.”His family left Galesburg for East Moline in 1990, with Hastings staying his senior year living withfriends, and he has returned little since then, only to visit with old friends like Dickerson.After high school and short while at Black Hawk College, Hastings moved to Indianapolis andworked for nearly a decade as a manager at Auto Zone, his dreams of being involved in musicburning white-hot as ever. Then, in the summer of 2003, Hastings told friends and family he wasmaking his move into music.They knew better than to doubt him.“He gets an idea in his head and goes with it,” said Malinda Jackson, who now lives with herhusband in Springfield.Now, Hastings represents some of the hottest acts in central Illinois, and his clothing line isgaining notoriety.Even one of Dickerson’s children may find some Jimshoes clothes under the tree on Tuesday.If they’re good.“My kids love it,” he said.