By Camilla Mhute, Editorial Intern
Atlanta’s potential as a fashion hub has become the Atlanta Fashion Incubator’s main focus. Founded in 2007 by lawyer during the day, fashion enthusiast after hours Cynthia Johnson, the incubator was built on the interest to expand the city’s fashion scene by educating aspiring fashion entrepreneurs.
We went behind the scenes of AFI with executive director Dominiqui N. Southall – head of organizing workshops, seminars and networking events — to learn more about its future plans.
Atlanta Fashion Incubator Logo
Atlanta Tribune: Exactly what role does the Atlanta Fashion Incubator play in Atlanta’s fashion community?
Dominiqui N. Southhall: We are a non-profit organization that helps creative entrepreneurs interested in the business side of fashion. We help people allocate the resources they need in order to build their fashion careers, and we also host events and production workshops. Right now, we are in the works of publishing a ‘Little Fashion Book,’ a virtual directory where people can easily find Atlanta-based fashion businesses and auxiliary services.
AT: What types of events/programs do you have?
DS: One of our programs, LABEL, is a three-month course that fosters entrepreneurial fashion designers’ careers and provides mentorships. We reach out to already established professionals in the industry and have them provide the necessary skills and knowledge needed for a future in the business of fashion.
AT: Atlanta is not really known for its fashion scene compared to New York or L.A. What makes this organization a demand in this type of setting?
DS: We actually see that lack as an asset for untapped opportunity. Atlanta’s film industry is growing so fast and that brings the demand to have stylists and fashion designers on set. We want to be a part of the growth here in the city and establish a strong fashion community that reaches out to those who have the same passion.
AT: What types of sponsorships or partnerships have you had to acquire in order to provide the necessary resources?
DS: First of all, we really rely on the community to provide resources, studio space, and their time. For example, we’ve teamed up with Miki Design Studio to provide the space for pattern making. Since we are a nonprofit, we have the ability to have items donated to us and we’ve also worked alongside the City of Brookhaven.
AT: In what ways to do you reach out people who are interested in growing a fashion business, and how do plan on sustaining your organization?
DS: We mainly rely on social media and sending out e-mails to people who are interested in fashion. The way I got involved with AFI was through the owner, Cynthia Johnson who came to speak in my class at American Intercontinental University. So we try to keep that routine of reaching out to students in the fashion field. As far as sustaining our program, we want to keep having these annual events that have proven to be beneficial. We plan on allocating a physical space, preferably in Doraville, north of 85, which we consider to be the closest thing to a fashion hub in Atlanta.
AT: What words of advice do you have for aspiring fashion entrepreneurs?
DS: Honestly, just really work hard and treat people right. Atlanta is such a small place as far as the fashion community goes, so the way you treat people spreads around. Be careful of the way you present yourself because you never know who knows whom. AT