“When growing up, I loved the show “Quincy M.E.” on NBC and I wanted to be just like him. I wanted to a top medical investigator that helped catch criminals. So I went on to study Biochemistry in undergrad and law after wards with the understanding that, in studying law, you could do anything. I quickly found that I did not have the passion for law.”
This is what I was told when I asked Cynthia K. Johnson, founder and CEO of Atlanta Fashion Incubator (AFI), to tell me a little bit about her background. She went on to tell me that the justice system – her oginal career choice – was just not where she needed to be as she felt there was something greater for her outside of the courtroom. In her hometown of Atlanta, Cynthia was the Assistant District Attorney for twelve years. She worked with troubled families, children from broken homes, and mothers seeking child support. The effects of these downtrodden situations began to take its toll and she was quickly began to loose herself. Cynthia knew that she always had a desire to be in the fashion industry and provide services to women just like her. Cynthia worked part-time at Parisian and found herself still there after 4 years. In this valley of being uncomfortable but complacent, she found the light and vision to start her own business. Then the birth of HIPPS came about, a plus sized boutique catering to all of woman’s needs.
Cynthia did everything possible to open a successful clothing store in the Buckhead community of Atlanta. She began this journey in 1992. For seven years, Cynthia studied, went to seminars, and wrote an extensive business plan with details of the entire operation. Cynthia served on the Board of Directors of Fashion Group International-Atlanta and Dress for Success Atlanta, and the Fashion Advisory Board of AIU-Buckhead. She went on to become a member of the U.S. Dept of Commerce’s Export Textile Advisory Council.
Cynthia saw the need for a boutique that could offer plus-sized women the same amenities available to many high-end, yet small-framed shoppers. At HIPPS, the average woman would be able to shop in a comfortable environment with ceiling fans, soft robes and slippers, and be made comfortable in her own skin. The company was very successful for the years that it was opened and achieved numerous awards for both Cynthia and its staff. However, a business plan does dictate the professionalism and understanding of the way a business works from its’ short-term investors’ standpoint. A conscious decision was made and HIPPS was forced to close its doors.
Cynthia threw herself into the church and again rose from the ashes. She has now formed a non-profit that offers an amazing service to the fashion industry. The Atlanta Fashion Incubator is a development and resource center for aspiring creative beings of the fashion industry. AFI aims to attract resident ateliers and designers to make clothing for plus sized and voluptuous woman. Cynthia believes that it would be ideal for emerging talents to begin creating under a private label and translate current trends into fashion for the consumer. The members of AFI want to encourage size-diversity in the industry. It is true that the average woman is a size 12-14 and many designers create garments for women that are sizes 0-4. That is just not realistic. I am actually smaller then some of my colleagues but I do believe that women and men of larger proportions should be offered more fashionable pieces. This will in turn give them confidence and a great since of self.
The Atlanta Fashion Incubator has been a huge success and is received globally. Cynthia has traveled to research business and trends in the fashion industry in Tokyo, Paris, London, and even Düsseldorf. Members attended the Trade Mission in London 2005 on “Globesity”. Exemplifying that fact obesity is not just and issue in the USA but internationally. AFI will be hosting The Second International Conference of Fashion Incubators is a major event on the fashion calendar, and will attract an audience from the global design and business communities and the general public from across the Southeast US. International creative leaders will engage in an exciting two day program of workshops, networking, and student design competition in an environment where we can develop world-wide business associations.)
More details to follow soon.
PLAN to BE there!
Check out the very fashionable W Hotel – Buckhead – [Conference Headquarters]