Stylish E-Commerce: Black Online Fashion Entrepreneurs to Watch

August 5, 2011  |  

By Denise Burrell-Stinson

There was a time when many thought selling fashion and beauty items on the Internet was a big question mark — a business strategy that should be approached cautiously, if not skeptically. Would style-conscious consumers of be enticed by small labels (as opposed to prestige brands) outside of the pomp and circumstance of a cool, freestanding store in a swanky neighborhood? Now, however, that sentiment has gone the way of dial-up. Fashion lovers now flock to the web to conveniently shop for unique accessories, home decor items and clothing – and black sartorial entrepreneurs are taking advantage of this trend. The Atlanta Post has profiled seven exciting black-owned brands that are finding the lower costs associated with launching an e-commerce site ideal for breaking into the tough style arena. Meet the Top Seven Black Online Fashion Entrepreneurs to Watch.

 

Inkwell

Roslyn Johnson, a 26-year-old New Yorker, launched her online shop just four months ago. Previously, she had she worked for the boutique chainlet Scoop, interned for Sean John and spent three years working in the buying office of a major department store. Her beginning career moves gave her the confidence to start her own brand. “I saw a number of up-and-coming collections and thought I had what it took to compete,” Johnson told The Atlanta Post. For her Inkwell designs, Johnson uses Malian mud cloth dyed with plant juices, teas and mud in a process called Bogolanfini, that give a  mature, classic Hollywood sexiness to her cocktail dresses and miniskirts. “I saw a void in the marketplace for an African-American heritage brand that incorporates tribal fabrics in a more all-American way,” she says of the classic cuts of her pieces. According to Dr. Angela Hausman, associate professor at the Howard University School of Business and founder of the marketing consulting outfit Hausman & Associates, the web can be an ideal starting point for someone with Johnson’s entrepreneurial spirit. “There are a lot of real costs involved in brick-and-mortar,” says Hausman. “But on the Internet, you don’t have to sign a lease, arrange utilities or build out a space.” Free of these limitations, Johnson took her idea, and ran with it.

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