Exeleon Magazine

AK Brown: Meet The Fashion Connector

AK Brown Fashion Connector

This interview is part of Exeleon Magazine’s celebration for Women’s History Month. The entire month we are releasing multiple interviews, stories, and articles of established as well as emerging women entrepreneurs.

AK Brown is a seasoned fashionpreneur who is using her journey to guide and inspire fashion brands and creatives in defining their success in the industry. Read her full interview below with Exeleon Magazine, wherein she talks about her journey and the fashion industry.

What according to you makes one a powerful woman? How do you integrate the same thought into your leadership?

I believe power comes with true genuineness and authenticity. Essentially, there’s no way to act or look powerful, but more so being authentic in your actions and what you set to put out into the world. For me, my power comes from my determination and my circle knowing if I say I’m going to do something or manifest something, then it’s going to happen.

I think, especially with women, we are told we have to be tough, and almost mean in order to be taken seriously as a leader (I think of it as the Miranda Priesley act in The Devi; Wears Prada). I’m not a rude person, I’m not a mean person, and I am more of an empath than people realize. I refuse to implement scare tactics into my leadership that contribute to the toxicity of the fashion industry we so desperately need to get away from.

Talk to us about your growing up years. What is your earliest memory as a leader?

Highschool, senior year to be exact as I was one of the cheerleading captions and was the year I really started to come out of my shell. Fast forward to college where I was the student council president and really got involved in the fashion scene there, and that may be why I am now back as an adjunct professor.

What prompted your interest and subsequently your foray into the fashion space?

Fashion for me was second nature, growing up with a mother and several aunts and cousins who either had the same interests as me or nurtured my interest. As I moved along in my degree and early on in my career, I realized that fashion can, should, and is meant to be inclusive.

There’s a way for everyone to participate in fashion and make it their own, and I’m someone that doesn’t necessarily like to “follow the rules”. So being able to create what my version of what fashion was is how I really developed what my brand is today.

As a fashionpreneur, how are you helping people find clarity and direction in the industry?

One example of this is really promoting the “fashion expert” and move away from the influencer culture. I believe social media has forced many of us to become the content creators and influencers we don’t want to be, and many of us have a wealth of knowledge in so many different niches in fashion.

We need more experts that can share their knowledge and experience, even when the day comes that social media is not beneficial to us anymore, and this is one of the areas I focus on when I work with multifaceted fashionpreneurs.

What does a day in the life of AK Brown look like? How do you ensure work-life balance?

Each day is different because of everything I am involved in. A lot of my days consist of meetings and consultations, as well as lecture series and panel events. Some days may consist of creating content for my magazine, and some days consist of blogging on my website. I learned after getting my master’s that I need at least 2 days to myself and my daughter. Sundays usually are my clean up days and relaxation days, and Mondays are my “let’s get organized” days.

Looking at your journey as an entrepreneur, what would you have differently if you were to start again?

The only thing I would do differently, or change is building my presence outside of St. Louis sooner. Part of my brand is to bring visibility to the wonderful things happening in St. Louis’ fashion industry, but my fear held me back from traveling early on or making connections outside of my city, and I now know how beneficial it could have been for my efforts and bigger goal.

With new technologies and innovations entering the market, what do you think is the future of the fashion industry?

Sustainability and entering into the digital second world. Sustainability is something that you’ll see come down the pipeline as bills and laws, something that should have been done years ago. I think this will eventually weed out what we know of as fast fashion. If there’s a certain level of ethics, backed by law, put into place on really, how cheap a piece of clothing can be made, the price will go up and it will take longer to make.

With AI technology, you now have the capabilities to try on fashion and even wear fashion in another world. There are also other ways besides the classic factory to make clothes, which circles back around to the idea of fashion being inclusive and giving other designers and brands opportunities to create product in a way that makes sense for them.

Finally, what does the future look like for you and your brand? What are you most excited about?

I sometimes don’t like to speak of the future because, as we know, the future is unpredictable, but I am hoping my future includes the growth and progression of my studio brand and non-profit, as well as continuing to be seen as The Fashion Connector that I am. Whatever the future holds, I just hope fashion is involved.

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