By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times
Charles Tyler may not have a ministry, but he sees his work as a calling. He is the is owner of Birmingham-based Charles E. Tyler Enterprises, which crafts bracelets with what he calls “Motimessages,” or motivational messages, to inspire others.
“I [make] Christian-themed bracelets with sayings like ‘God is Good,’ ‘Walk by Faith,’ ‘God is with me,’” said the 45-year-old Tyler, “ … We all face challenges every day, and we all need motivation every day.”
When he first started making his bracelets, Tyler gained business through word of mouth. He would give them out at church, people would ask for bracelets for friends and family members and his business grew.
Tyler’s bracelets, which he’s been making for about seven years, are available in an assortment of colors: orange and blue; crimson and white; black and blue; and a number of other color combinations. He also makes bracelets to raise awareness about breast cancer and plans to launch a set of bracelets for law enforcement officers in August.
Currently, Tyler is working on a campaign called “Live Abundantly,” which will launch in September. He believes “Live Abundantly” is a universal theme that anybody can relate to “no matter what religion, color, or whatever. … Everybody would want to live an abundant life,” he said.
One side of the campaign’s bracelets encourage people to “Live Abundantly,” while the other side features five key elements to living an abundant life: grateful, positive, purpose-driven, happy, peaceful.
Tyler, who is director of fleet management for Jefferson County, where he has worked for 13-plus years, has tested his “Live Abundantly” bracelets with friends and family. So far, the feedback has been positive.
“Friends ask, “Can I get one for my daughter?’ Or they say, ‘My daughter took mine. Can I get another one?’ I could’ve easily just put ‘Live Abundantly’ on the bracelets, and people would’ve been cool with that,” he said. “What I’m doing, though, is trying to help people live abundantly. That’s where [the five elements on the opposite side of the bracelets] come from.”
As for Tyler’s forthcoming law enforcement bracelets, he’s had the idea for a while but never got around to doing until now. It all started when he made a bracelet for a friend in law enforcement, and it grew from there. One side of the bracelet features the phrase “Blue Lives Matter”; on the other side is “Pray-Serve-Protect.” Tyler’s hope is that wearing the bracelets will help officers—or anyone—realize the importance of law enforcement professionals and appreciate their efforts to keep other safe.
Tyler is originally from St. Louis, Mo., and was raised with his younger brother, Harlan. His mother and father divorced when he was young. His father, who worked as a patient-care technician at a local hospital, remained an active presence in his life. And his mother is a historian and professor of African-American studies at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo.
“She teaches tourism and history, and also [handles the city’s annual] Juneteenth [commemoration],” Tyler said. “She oversees almost every type of African-American celebration going on in St. Louis.”
Juneteenth, also known as Juneteenth Independence Day or Freedom Day, is an American holiday that commemorates the June 19, 1865, announcement of the abolition of slavery in the U.S. state of Texas and the emancipation of enslaved African-Americans throughout the former Confederate States of America.
Tyler graduated from his hometown’s Cleveland Junior Naval Academy High School in 1992. He then attended Miles College in Fairfield, Ala., on a full scholarship from the United Negro College Fund (UNCF).
“I’m a product of the UNCF. That was the only way I could attend school,” he said. “Coming from St. Louis, my experience at Miles was different. I didn’t have any family here, so I felt alone, but I soon started to make friends, … and it was a great experience. I grew up in a more diversified community, and a lot of my friends [in St. Louis] were the opposite color. … I went from being one of the only minorities in my group of friends [back home] to being around a bunch of other minorities [at Miles], so it was a culture shock.”
Tyler was class president during his freshman, sophomore, and junior years at Miles; he also was president of the Student Government Association (SGA) during his senior year. He majored in chemistry and math education and became a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. He also served as a White House intern during President Bill Clinton’s administration.
“The White House press office allowed the college to put my picture on billboards all across Birmingham, too,” said Tyler, who graduated from Miles in 1996. “I worked in the presidential scheduling and advance office. We scheduled the president’s day-to-day activities, prepping him and helping him get ready. It gave me a lot of exposure to him.”
Living Your Purpose
Tyler would go on to earn a master’s degree in education administration but “more importantly, I earned a [Master of Business Administration, or] MBA, because the dean of the school at the time said, ‘A smart young man like might want to get an MBA because you will do good in corporate America.’ So, I [took his advice].”
Tyler received his MBA from Regent University in Denver, Colo., and returned to Birmingham, where he got a managerial position at Saks Fifth Avenue.
“I was the first black manager [at the store], he said. “It … was a challenge because I worked in logistics and was responsible for the merchandise-processing team. I [also] helped open and close the store. It was a great experience, though, … [as] my first management role outside of the classroom.”
While working at Saks, Tyler taught at Virginia College because he believes it’s his God-given purpose “to educate, motivate, and inspire people.” He instructed at the school part-time as a business instructor for 16 years before it closed in December 2018.
While making strides in the academic and business worlds, Tyler also endured the pain of losing his younger brother, Harlan, who was killed at age 22.
“He was three years younger than me, but we were very close,” Tyler said. “[We were] two different people. … I was the nerd, and he was the calm, collective type. I was always hype, ready to learn, ready to do my thing, and my brother was kind of laid-back.
“He was shot and killed. It was hard because my brother and I were very close, and we were a very close family. It had an impact on me because we were so close and communicated a lot. It was like I was losing a part of myself. … My best friend had been killed. It devastated my mom, too. A day doesn’t go by that we don’t think about him.”
The loss of his brother is part of Tyler’s personal motivation for creating his “Motimessages” bracelets, which he feels can help inspire people through tough times and help them deal with trials and tribulations.
“We all go through stuff,” he said. “I always needed that daily reminder that I’m not the only one going through [things] and God is with [me].
Tyler encourages people to “be thankful for the good. It’s easy to go negative on things and think negatively, but you should always think positively and … know that God is with you when you’re going through things. That’s why I thought, ‘Maybe I should start doing my own little thing with the sayings.’ I just took some of the most popular sayings and started putting them on bracelets. They’ve become very popular and … people love them.”
Tyler’s “Motimessages” bracelets, which range in price from $3 to $5, are currently sold online at eBay and Etsy; they also can be purchased from him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.