L2US: Who is Tony Vaughn
Tony Vaughn: I am a straightforward guy who finds humor in everything and loves being around people. Growing up in a big family of eight siblings, with me being the seventh child, I enjoyed being around my family, who took pleasure in my comedic side. I also have a wonderful imagination that came naturally. As a child, I loved to create and draw. Having a creative mind helped mold and shape my personality into the person I have become today. I would also say that music was a huge part of my life. I grew up in a household where music was always heard. From Ray Charles, and Frank Sinatra, to Mahalia Jackson, music was always part of our home and lives. As a child growing up, I always wanted to do big things in life, and one of those big things was to make people laugh. One of my many aspirations [which I rarely share with anyone], was to become a clown in Ringling Bros. and Barnum Bailey Circus. It was my desire to put a smile on everyone’s face.
My father was a hard worker. We did not always have some of the luxuries of white-collar families, however, my parents made sure we had what we needed. There were times when we didn’t have hot water, and our mother would have to boil water on the stove. And there were times my dad brought home White Castle burgers for us for breakfast since he worked there. Because we couldn’t afford to purchase sodas, my sister would put water in glasses and ask us to pretend it was soda. We knew how to make do with what we had–and it worked for us. That was part of my upbringing, and being creative and imaginative was a big part of that.
L2US: Tell us about a moment or memory that helped shape your life’s trajectory. TV: I loved acting. My sister Joya took me on my first audition at the Theater of Universal Images (TUI), and from there I went on to take acting lessons through Family Life Theater, which was located in New York, as well as with the HB Studios in Manhattan, and then with the Negro Ensemble Company. That introduction to acting really shaped my life’s trajectory in the arts. My creativity again flourished and led me on the path that I am on now.
L2US: If you could describe it, what would you describe as your superpower? TV: Without sounding too “big” of myself, I would say that my superpower is my tenacity, and the ability to never give up. It’s not an ego [thing] because it is the grace of God that gets me to stay the course and not give up so easily. I see myself as a “weeble,” weebles wobble… they don’t fall down. I was never that guy who was popular. I was the guy who was picked on. So, I retreated to my own imagination and creativity which became the driving force that validated who I was and who I was on the inside. Just knowing that I could persevere, regardless of the challenges I faced. God has really been good to me, and He has always carried me through some of the trials and tribulations that I put myself through. So that is why I keep pushing on.
L2US: Tell us about the most important people in your world? TV: Of course, I would have to say my mother and father are the most important in my world, even though they have transitioned on. Next would be my siblings, which were eight, now it’s five of us. And then also, my wife Laticia (affectionately known as BooBoo). Then there is our son Anthony, Jr. I was blessed to be there when he was born and realized that my wife had given me a gift, which was one of the most profound moments of my life.
L2US: Tell us about a difficult moment that changed your life. TV: Shortly after we both brought our son home after giving birth, Laticia’s appendix burst, and while in the hospital, she went into arrest, and I had a two-week-old infant in my arms. While she was being rushed to the emergency room, she said to me as they continued to revive her, she told me, “Now you will have to take care of him.” It was haunting because my wife’s mother died after giving birth to her. And at that time, I was working with Tiffany & Co. in Short Hills, New Jersey. Shortly after the ordeal with Laticia, I began to experience Post-Partum Depression (PPD) for the first time. Because five months before my wife gave birth, my mother passed away. So I was dealing with the death of my mother and the life-threatening situation with my wife. Then I was in a car accident, and I did not want my wife to know because I needed to shield her from any other stressor. I was also in therapy because of the accident. I was out of work for the next five years, and eventually, one of us had to decide who was going back to work to support us. So my wife decided that she would go back to work, and I became a “stay-at-home dad” for five years.
L2US: How did you end up at the radio station WBLS? TV: As I mentioned before, my love of music and how immersed I was in it, I attribute to my brothers. In the ’80s and ’90s, I did house parties in the neighborhood, and I was very good at mixing music and beats together and programming music. So I became known as “The DJ” of Newark, which led to an internship at WBLS through Inner City Broadcasting. The following year, the program director Mr. Quincy McCoy asked me to create a “mix show,” and it paid off; the rest is history, and Anthony “Tony” Vaughn became part of an elite group of DJ’s/Air Personalities known as the ThunderStorm DJs— making me a regular on WBLS. Fast-forward a few years, I was invited to Japan by a very wealthy promoter and club owner, [who flew me and a good friend] to do a gig at WBLS in Tokyo. We spent two weeks in Tokyo, Japan, deejaying in his club, all expenses paid. I was then booked to deejay in Paris and then back to Japan in a span of six years, to deejay at some of the most exclusive club venues in the world.
After leaving WBLS, and studying at The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York, I continued to be intrigued by the fashion world. After I left the radio industry, I needed a gig, so I went to work at The GAP as an EOS (the element of sales trainer) where I trained sales associates on the art of engaging the customer. In this transition, my wife asked me to buy her a bracelet from Tiffany’s. I knew nothing about Tiffany bracelets, other than what I saw in the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” featuring Audrey Hepburn, and reading the book. I walk into Tiffany & Co. at Short Hills Mall. A gentleman there recruited me on the spot to work at Tiffany’s as an Ambassador for the store. And that’s how my journey began at Tiffany & Co. as the Ambassador for their store in New Jersey to Tiffany & Co. on Wallstreet for the last nine years. I was also blessed to have received the coveted Charles Lewis Tiffany Award for everything Tiffany & Co. represents in luxury.
L2Us: If you could go back in time, what would you tell the Tony Vaughn of today? TV: I would tell him, never give up and never be moved or swayed to be accepted by the popular crowd. And it’s okay to be who you were created to be and that God will keep you close because you are special to him. And regardless of what people say, you should never be afraid in life–just go for it!
L2Us: From your days at WBLS to the GAP and now to Tiffany & Co., what piece of advice would you give someone in that line of work? TV: You must enjoy being around people. You must be willing to listen and hear out what the narrative is of the client/customer story and be willing and open to hear and accept the narrative sincerely and earnestly. The client/customer will reveal to you why they are there. Once you know that, you will create that experience for that said client/customer. If you are not able to do that and you are only interested in the sale, well, it’s not going to work. You have to feel and embrace that moment. You will have to become the client/customer for you to do that; you have to convince them that you are truly there for them–and be willing to translate that. From experience, you only have a short window to do that, to make that happen, because once that window closes, your opportunity is gone. If you don’t have a passion for doing that line of work, then don’t waste your time or the client/customer’s time.
L2Us: Tell us about your role as an Ambassador of luxury for TCO. TV: Let’s clarify the question. The Ambassador of Luxury is Tony Vaughn. My employer is TCO. My goal is to consistently create moments, memories, and experiences for everyone I encounter in my daily life which of course can take place at work or if I’m at one of my faves having a fabulous cup of espresso preferably 2x with an 80% piece of Dark Chocolate. You see, the conversation between people is no longer happening. lol, No one is waiting for the narrative! It’s rush rush rush…I’m recreating that client experience by giving the client what they need which is a listening ear. I’m a huge fan of disruption that’s definitely needed as long as it’s advantageous to the client! I have a quote that I often share with clients, friends, etc… “Oftentimes we concentrate so much on the intermission we miss the show. “ The client experience is what matters to me, everything else is the wonderful dressing that accompanies it.
L2Us: The holidays are here! Tell us about your most treasured memory. What made it meaningful? TV: My most treasured memory is my time spent in Tokyo during the Christmas and New Year season. It was absolutely amazing! My days consisted of visiting friends for sushi and sake accompanied by a shot of shochu…yummy! The evenings of course were spent at the clubs with me spinning some of the hottest club tunes to a screaming packed house. I would highly recommend celebrating Christmas in Tokyo it’s a moment in time you will never forget. PS. Make sure you try the Holiday Strawberry Shortcake it’s delectable! Arigato!
What are the holidays like for you today? TV: Well, I celebrate the holidays with my family, which I think is very important, especially after going through 2 years of quarantine. You come to understand that life is very short and time with family is very valuable.
L2Us: What would you consider to be the essence of your “Secret Sauce” in creating a memorable experience? TV: Listening is very important and is one of many attributes that I have, including my own personal style and the vernacular to pull it off. It’s also the understanding and usage of words, the timing of the words, and the use of body language, all of which play a big part. And if you’re unable to bring all of that together, then it’s like I said, it’s just not going to happen. The bottom line is this–you have to have confidence in yourself, and you have to enjoy people. You have to enjoy being with people from all aspects of life.
L2Us: What is next for Tony Vaughn? TV: Tony Vaughn is going to continue on the journey that he is on. I’m excited. I am looking to write a book and do a talk show that will highlight regular people doing regular things because I see greatness in everyone. And because it is in every aspect of my life, some really great things are about to happen.