Read the full interview at http://www.tucmag.net/fashion/behind-the-seams-atlantas-designer-cedric-brown-speaks-on-his-collection-and-his-rise-to-success/
Within recent years, Atlanta has been receiving a lot more recognition than years past. While Atlanta’s overall culture is on the rise, so is Atlanta’s very own, Cedric Brown. Cedric Brown, a 25-year old fashion designer and visual artist, may soon be responsible for the garments you may see on television or on celebrities in the near future. The Cedric Brown Collection was created as a sense of a bold fashion statement in the form of silk accessories made for both men and women.
The garments are all uniquely infused of original paintings and art creations by the artist, Cedric Brown, himself. These accessories can range from evening- wear to street- wear depending on the consumer. Brown’s favorite thing about his garments is how his consumers wear his pieces. He loves seeing new innovative ways others’ wear his accessories. He believes it promotes confidence and self-expression.
Cedric Brown has always had a drive for the arts. For starters, Brown was raised by a single mother, who has been one of his main sources of inspiration throughout his whole life and career. Brown’s fashion sketches were inspired by his mother’s phenomenal sense of style. He says he would always pick out her outfits on her days out in the city. Brown picked up on art classes when he was younger as well. In his later years, Brown attended Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) where he received a B.F.A in Fashion Design. Aside from his fashion background, Brown also took business courses at the Operation Hope Center. While school helped Brown achieve his certification in the art world, his talent has gone a long way. Brown explained since the day he had the opportunity of meeting Steve Harvey and receiving some great advice on pursuing his dreams, Brown has been unstoppable. His artwork has been showcased overseas, like his painting “As the Twigs Bends, so the Tree Inclines” displayed in the National Russian Museum in St. Petersburg. As well as, his work was featured in the “Peace, Friendship, Goodwill through the Olympic Spirit” exhibition in Beijing, China. While his artwork has received recognition throughout, his collection seems to be getting the same amount of exposure. Notable celebrities have been seen wearing Cedric Brown Collection accessories such as Atlanta rapper, Young Thug, Chairman John Hope Bryant and WNBA Coach Fred Williams.
The Atlanta- based collection is currently sold in five stores and boutiques, one of them including the famous Mansion on Forsyth Park Bohemian Art Gallery in Savannah, GA. The collection is also available for purchase on the brand’s official website. From time to time, Brown does pop-up shows around the States to showcase his latest work. Brown’s work has been seen at Harlem’s Fashion Row Pop-Up Shop to SCAD’s Bee Market in the heart of Savannah, GA. Brown’s vision seems very promising. His overall goal is to become a notable fashion-forward designer, lead a brand with longevity, and follow in the same footsteps as some his favorite fashion designers such as Ralph Lauren and Giorgio Armani. With this lead, Cedric Brown will surely be there in no time. Read our exclusive interview with Cedric Brown as he speaks to us about his life, career goals as a person and artist.
Paulette: Usually designers start off by designing garments, what made you decide to start your collection with accessories? Do you plan on expanding your collection by adding apparel anytime soon?
Brown: I have a painting background, so what better way to use my art than with a scarf. In school, I experimented with making hand painted scarves, so I thought about it as a good way to launch my business. Some of the greats started their businesses with accessories, such as Emilio Pucci with scarves and Ralph Lauren with ties, so I knew it’ll be a strategic way to introduce Cedric Brown Collections to the fashion industry.
In the near future, I plan to make ready-to-wear collections. As I continue to learn about my customers, I’ll gradually add new pieces for both men and women
Paulette: Who do you feel is mainly your target audience for your collection?
Brown: Cedric Brown Collections target market is well-to-do, professional men and women, ages 25 and up. However, the brand also caters to all ages. We have had parents buy our bowties for their kids, which they wear with their school uniforms.
Our customers appreciate the arts, love to travel, support small businesses, shop at upscale malls, and attend dinner parties and church. They also know how to have fun — occasionally attending evening-wear events, fundraisers, and sophisticated lounges. Our collection allows them to create their own unique looks and styles wherever they go.
Boutiques and stores that carry my line are typically located in wealthy neighborhoods. These partners, in addition to our target customers, care more about innovation and the quality of the product than the latest trends, so they will spend extra money on quality pieces.
Paulette: How did designers such as Gianni Versace and Ralph Lauren influence you as a designer?
Brown: Both Gianni Versace and Ralph Lauren influence me in different ways. In regards to Versace, I love the brand’s sensual style and Italian cut. The color combinations and prints on silk are phenomenal; I love their silk shirts for men and women. Their influence in the hip-hop culture in the 90s made an impact on my personal aesthetic. I would love for my brand to make this type of influence on pop culture as well.
Ralph Lauren influences me as a business man. His brand represents true American style, with timeless pieces. The label is iconic and has been that way for several generations. I really admire the way he excelled at selling products at different price points, and it still kept a chic edge. I want my brand to have such longevity and appeal to the masses.
Paulette: What role did your mother play in your life in helping you achieve your goals of becoming a fashion designer?
Brown: I was raised in a single-parent household, and my mom’s phenomenal style was an inspiration for my fashion sketches. Whenever she would hit the town, I would help pick out her outfits.
She has always been supportive and encouraging of my dreams — always complimenting my drawings, even the bad ones. I was never discouraged by her not to follow my dreams even when I worried about making a decent income for myself.
In addition, my mother is still supportive to this day — helping out at most of my pop-ups, picking out colors for the new season, and contacting event planners and boutiques to showcase my work.
Paulette: Did your educational background contribute to your success? Or do you believe your skills came from outside influences?
Brown: I cannot say my success came from one thing because it came from a variety of sources. As a youth, I participated in the Boys and Girls Club, where I took art lessons at the Youth Art Connection. I grew up in church, so my Christian values encouraged me to take risks and have faith. I have mentors I go to for life, career, and business advice. Also, I took business courses at Operation Hope Center.
Professionally, I was trained by great instructors at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). I studied influential designers, worked with other talented students, learned from design critiques, and was challenged to be more innovative with my designs.
While attending SCAD, my fashion professors advised me to incorporate my painting background into my apparel designs. In my Senior Collection, I produced hand-painted and hand-dyed designs, which received great reviews from my professors and peers. Later, I decided to launch the Cedric Brown Collections, my line of accessories. Featuring my original artwork, each accessory has a story to tell and can be worn anywhere.
In addition, I gained professional work experience through design internships and freelance work in New York City and Hong Kong, as well as interning at big corporations such as Sears/K-Mart, Li and Fung Limited, and Carter’s.
Paulette: How was your experience meeting Steve Harvey? How do you feel that opportunity may have helped you in your future endeavors?
Brown: Back in 2007, I won an essay competition with the Boys and Girls Club and Black Ebony Family Reunion, sponsored by Coca-Cola North America. Winning the competition, I was 1 of 3 students awarded the opportunity to spend the day with Steve in Atlanta. The whole day was a magical experience. I received VIP treatment and participated in the biggest Cupid Shuffle dance ever. In addition, the personal conversation with him was life changing. I felt like I could relate to him. He inspired me to really believe in self-affirmation and personal vision.
Paulette: How would you describe your art to others who have never seen your collection before?
Brown: When I create artwork for my brand, I always think about my mission statement, which is to express freedom, confidence, and luxury through art and fashion. Freedom and confidence are expressed through my gesture strokes, hand movements, color palette, and different brushstrokes. I make sure the design has a high-end aesthetic to it.
I love to create abstract art because it shows my free spirit nature. I look up to a lot of the abstract expressionist painters.
Paulette: How did it feel to get recognition and have your artwork in China?
Brown: In 2008, at 15 years old, I traveled to Beijing, China, and it was my first international trip, plane ride, and worldwide art show. My artwork was featured in a children’s art exhibition, “Peace, Friendship, Goodwill Through the Olympic Spirit,” sponsored by International Paint Pals.
I went on a two-week excursion around China. This experience was life-changing — it made me feel like the sky was the limit and there was nothing I could not do.
Paulette: Do you plan on expanding your locations?
Brown: Yes ! , I would like to. However, I plan to make Atlanta my permanent headquarters, but I would love for my work to be distributed nationally and internationally.
Paulette: Explain what it felt like to have celebrities like Young Thug, Chairman John Hope Bryant, News Anchor Deborah Tuff, and Coco Vango.
Brown: It’s humbling to meet the celebrities you admire, and see that they love your work, but whenever I see anyone wearing my accessories, it’s always a great feeling. I love to see the different ways consumers style my product, and it gives my brand more exposure.
It’s funny when you witness self-affirmation working for you. Last year, I made a list of celebrities I would want to wear my clothes, and rapper Young Thug was on my list. I really admire his style and I’m a big fan of his music. All of the high fashion brands want him in their clothes. After bumping into him twice in the mall, I knew I had to approach him and show my line. On the spot, he was very supportive and bought all of the samples I had on me. A few weeks later, I saw him wearing my scarves in innovative ways on his various Instagram posts.
In one of his post, he quoted “highest fashion” and he received over 80,000 likes. In his latest video with Birdman Bit Bak, I really loved the confidence he displayed wearing my scarves around his head and hand movements with the scarf.
It’s been great seeing other celebrities wear my products as well, including Chairman John Bryant, the founder of Operation Hope, where I took business courses. He came by my display and loved my work, and he asked me to show him ways how he could style the scarf on his Louis Vuitton backpack.
Deborah Tuff, a news anchor on NBC in Atlanta, wore one of my scarves live on air, and rapper Coco Vango used my scarf on the cover of his mixtape, Cocaine Flow 2.
The embrace from celebrities shows that my slogan rings true, “From evening wear to streetwear, CBC makes a chic statement.”
Paulette: Do you have any advice for anyone who is struggling with a dream and putting themselves out there?
Brown: The first step is to believe in yourself, and I mean really believe in your talent. Then, others will follow and believe too.
Next, you have to put in the work and do a lot of research. James 2:26 says, “Faith without works is dead.” Your research will help you find innovative ways to separate yourself from the competition. When following your dreams, everything you want may not go your way. Sometimes the reality you want may not be there, so you have to create it for yourself.
Most of all, do not be afraid to take risks. I feel like it’s better to take a chance with your dreams than getting older regretting things and having the “should woulda coulda” sad song.
Paulette: Do you have upcoming projects you’re currently working on?
Brown: Yes, I’m always working on something. Currently, I am working on some new Fall designs and also adding some new items to my line. I plan to add kaftans and sport shirts to the Cedric Brown Collection really soon.