Standing out and evolution are two mainstays of the fashion industry. Both seem to come naturally to Siba alumna, AK Brown. The 2014 graduate of Siba’s Retail Management/Fashion Merchandising program (now called Fashion Development & Merchandising) has built a business on how to develop, transform, and thrive in the fashion world. Now, she’s using her expertise to create a platform for black fashion professionals to collaborate and grow through Black in St. Louis Fashion.
As founder and President of Black in St. Louis Fashion, AK aims to bring much-needed visibility to members of the black fashion community, as well as provide a place where members can network. The group’s social media features profiles of movers and shakers in the fashion community, and the group hosts periodic social events. This year, they’re focused on expanding their grant program and they are working toward launching a fully-developed business accelerator within the next 1-2 years.
To commemorate their work, Black in St. Louis Fashion, now in its second year, commissioned a new editorial inspired by last year’s success, “I started the original editorial [in 2021] because there was and still is a lack of visibility for Black fashion creatives and professionals in St. Louis, and I’m a big proponent of ‘If you’re going to complain about something, be in a position to change it.’ So I did.”
That initiative is a common thread in everything AK does – including building her business. Creating an enterprise out of her unique blend of interests and expertise, AK helps individuals in the fashion industry flourish as “The Fashion Connector.” “The goal with my platform is to share my knowledge on a variety of topics including blogging/influencing, product development, fashion public relations, branding, and styling, while also giving space to other creatives who have authority in our industry as well. I have my own stylist & fashion academy where I teach students how to start a successful styling career from start to finish, and the basics of product development.”
Since entering into the workforce – as a business owner and an employee, AK has arrived at what she considers a perfect balance in her professional life. “You don’t have to solely work for yourself to have your own business. Even as an entrepreneur, I am still working on myself as a professional and making the transition into tech, so I can have a steady and comfortable income while investing that money into my business.”
For Siba students looking to work for themselves – whether it be fashion promotion, fashion marketing, visual merchandising, or designing, AK suggests getting a solid understanding of some business practices as well. “For those who want to become a fashion entrepreneur, a solid business foundation is just as important as creativity. A lot of [designers] may feel like their designs are so good, that they’re going to become instant sensations overnight, and that’s rarely (if ever) the case. I recommend taking some basic business courses or to invest in a business mentor to build an enterprise that will survive.”
For this woman of many talents, there’s always a project on the horizon. In addition to her work as The Fashion Connector, AK has a quarterly magazine set to launch in the Spring of 2022. This year she also wants to continue expanding her brand and booking speaking engagements. Always with an eye on what’s next, the future looks bright for AK. Her commitment to the fashion industry and her hometown of St. Louis is something to appreciate and emulate. “I plan to really get back out there and promote all the things I love in fashion – great personal style, community, fashion connections, and promoting St. Louis in the process.” We are extremely proud of AK and applaud all of her endeavors!
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