Everything Greenleaf’s Lady Mae does commands attention, but as of late, it’s the fabulous kimonos the character played by Lynn Whitfield has been wearing on the final season of the OWN drama that have caught our eye. And Cedric Brown is the Black designer behind them.“Prayers and dreams do come true,” the 29-year-old fashion designer told us via email. “Since high school, I dreamed about having my pieces on the big screens. “Growing up, I was a big fan of Giorgio Armani. In his biography, he wrote that he got his start making the suits on the hit movie American Gigolo so I knew that I wanted my work featured on the big screens too.”Brown has fellow Greenleaf star Lamman Rucker to thank for helping make that dream come true. The Atlanta native saw the actor at one of his trunk shows and decided to approach him with an offer. “I asked, ‘If you shout me out on social media, can I give you one of my pieces to wear?’ He responded, ‘If I’m going to let somebody pimp me, it might as well be my own people.’ We both smiled.”
Source: OWN / Cedric Brown Collections
Rucker told Brown he wanted to buy some pieces from him to give to the show’s costume designer Johnetta Boone so Brown sent her a direct message on social media and told her about the referral. “To my surprise, she responded and followed me back. A few weeks later, I met her and costume buyer Lisa Smedley. My persistence paid off.”
Boone requested all of the pocket squares from Cedric Brown Collections for Rucker’s character, Jacob Greenleaf, and she bought two kimono capes for Lady Mae. A few days later, she contacted Cedric and told him Whitfield loved his pieces and she commissioned yet another kimono for a special scene that needed to be completed in a month. It was Brown’s professors at the Savannah College of Art and Design, where he received his B.F.A. in Fashion Design, who encouraged him to blend his background as a painter with his apparel. Wes Gordon, Carolina Herrera’s Creative Director, advised Brown to start with one item and he chose scarves. “My initial signature silk scarves attracted customers, gave me name recognition, and provided sustainable social media followers. Since my first $200 investment, the business has grown exponentially,” Brown shared.
Source: OWN / Cedric Brown Collections
Now, as a full-time designer, Brown designs dusters, socks, neckties, pocket squares, and face masks in addition to kimonos, and he’s even been asked by Whitfield to create special pieces to wear off set. “After completing the project for Johnetta Boone, a week later Lynn Whitfield requested my number and called me personally to get more designer pieces. I screamed on the phone when she called. I couldn’t believe it. As much of a fan as I was of her work, she said she was a fan of my designs as well. She told me to call her ‘Auntie Lynn.'”
Source: Peter Forest / Getty
Brown’s kimonos were a staple of “Auntie Lynn’s” Essence Fest wardrobe last summer and she also stunned at the United Negro College Fund gala in Atlanta in his design. Whitfield even commissioned an original painting from Brown which was made into postcards and giclee print on canvas that she gave to staff and cast of Greenleaf staff as an end of the season gift.
Source: OWN / Cedric Brown Collections
“This opportunity is very powerful to me. About 10 years ago, I attended the Allen Entrepreneurial Institute, and we made elevator pitches about our future. We stood on the steps with the owner of the mansion, Bill Allen. He told us that our dreams could come true. ‘Believe, Conceive, and Achieve’ was his belief. Ten years later on those same steps the show Greenleaf is filmed, you have the entire Greenleaf cast sitting in the mansion, with the leading, Emmy-award winning, actress wearing one of my kimonos. That was a real example of speaking things into existence.”
Source: Johnny Nunez / Getty
Brown’s story is also an example of what using your professional platform to propel another’s career should look like in our community. “We have to support Black designers like the big brands. We have to give our Black designers chances to showcase their designs and talents,” Brown said. “Tag and boast about Black designers just like you do with Dior, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and other big brands. The industry needs to be ready to adopt change. Everyone deserves an opportunity to work in the field.”
BLACK FASHION DESIGNER GETS GOLDEN PRODUCT PLACEMENT OPPORTUNITY ON OWN’S ‘GREENLEAF’
by Dana Givens https://www.blackenterprise.com/black-fashion-designer-gets-golden-product-placement-opportunity-on-owns-greenleaf/
August 3, 2020
Product placement in major television shows and movies can be very profitable for many brands looking to showcase their goods or services to a new crowd of consumers. One black fashion designer was granted a huge opportunity to feature his products on a hit drama series. Cedric Brown is a talented fashion designer and owner of the Cedric Brown Collection, a luxury brand of scarves, kimonos, ties, and handkerchiefs. After a chance meeting with actor Lamman Rucker, who stars on Greenleafon the OWN network, Brown was able to get his kimonos placed in an episode.“In our meeting, I had no idea which characters were going to wear my designs. I was just grateful to have my pieces on the show,” said Brown in an email interview with BLACK ENTERPRISE. “However, Ms. Johnetta requested all of the pocket squares for Lamman Rucker’s character, Jacob Greenleaf, and she bought two kimono capes for Lynn Whitfield’s character, Lady Mae. A few days later, she contacted me and told me that Lynn Whitfield loved my pieces. Ms. Whitfield requested a longer blue kimono, which had to be completed in a month, for a special scene. ”Brown comes from a fashion background and got the idea for creating the kimonos during his school years working on a class project. “My professor critiqued my concept and told me to study the designer Halston, who created matching jumpsuits and kimonos,” he said. “One of Halston’s famous pieces was a collaboration with the artist Jackson Pollock, which had his abstract paintings on the fabric, His idea inspired me to create my own look using my artistic background. My colorful, abstract artwork, once placed on fine fabric, sends a message of class, authenticity, and distinction. I fell in love with the symbiotic movement of the fabric with the model’s body.”
Brown says the attention has been overwhelming with new eyes on his brand with many eagerly looking to purchase one of his beautiful designs. “Friends and family members were tagging me all over social media with clips and scenes of Greenleaf,” he explained. “I received phone calls from women all over the country, who just saw my work from the episode. They expressed their love and appreciation,” he continued. “A lot of my designs were selling out, so I had to turn a few styles into pre-orders.”
SIMPLY BUCKHEAD FEATURES CEDRIC BROWN
PRAISE 100.9 INTERVIEWS CEDRIC BROWN
Featured on Charlotte, NC, Praise 100.9, I’m Every Woman Show. Host Valerie Starks interviews Cedric about his journey and Greenleaf
Fashion is usually thought of as a woman-dominated industry but this time around, we decided we had to chat with Atlanta’s own, fashion designer, Cedric Brown, a Black man, who brings his love for art and his love for fashion together to create everything from scarves to kimonos, to ties, and more. I promise the pieces Cedric designs are nothing you have ever seen before. Cedric Brown Collections is beautifully and uniquely designed to cater to any and everybody who loves fun and enjoy color! He’s had everyone from rappers to actresses/actors to everyday people wearing his pieces, helping create more buzz around his brand and showing the world his many talents. At only age twenty-eight, Cedric has accomplished many accolades and is beyond passionate about all that he does. I’m so happy we were able to dive deep into how he got started, all the hard work he’s put into his craft, and so much more.
Cedric isn’t new to art, he’s true to it and it’s something that has been a huge part of his life since day one. Being raised in a single-parent home, Cedric saw his mom dabble into many different entrepreneurial endeavors, which gave him the courage to also do whatever he put his mind to. His mother was always super stylish and as a toddler, Cedric would draw sketches of her and other fashionable women. Cedric’s mom currently helps him run his business, being so supportive and traveling with him to do pop-ups as well as tradeshows. As a child, doing hard, manual labor was never something he was interested in but being creative and using art in its many forms to express himself always mattered most. Being so inspired by big fashion brands like Sean John, Ralph Lauren, and Phat Farm, each run by successful men, Cedric knew he had to go to school for Fashion Design. He did just that and graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). While attending SCAD, one of his professors gave him the idea of putting his paintings onto apparel, which completely changed the game!
There are so many different avenues you can dive into with designing, how do you even know where to start? Cedric saw the constant rise and fall of many emerging apparel designers who’d be a runway shows with big press but not getting a return on their investments. He didn’t want that for himself or his brand. Anything you’re passionate about requires a ton of research and that’s what Cedric did. Brands like Ralph Lauren, Emilio Pucci, and Versace all started off designing small accessories and then built their way up. Cedric decided to take that approach by starting off small with scarves and then kimonos and eventually ideas and business began to grow. Every single one of his designs is colorful, abstract, and reflects his childhood. He’s always had an eye for color and not only wants people to wear his pieces and look good but also feel happy.
Any and every time Cedric sees anyone wearing his pieces he’s filled with joy. Why wouldn’t he? People are rocking his art! Divine timing is so real and it’s proven in Cedric’s career from a story he told me about getting Young Thug to wear his scarves. Being from Atlanta, Cedric had already created a list of people from his city who he wanted to wear pieces from his collections. At the time, he was working at Carter’s, close to Lenox Mall, and while visiting the mall he ran into Young Thug and gave his security guard a scarf for the rapper. Cedric waited but never saw him wear it. A few months later, while on his lunch great which he rarely did, Cedric went over to Lennox Mall to get food, and once again, who’s there? None other than Young Thug and Cedric just knew he had to make it happen this time! He followed Young Thug into Neiman Marcus and was able to chat with him, and show all the pieces he had on hand. Thugger pulled out stacks and paid for a duffle bag filled with scarves and would, later on, rock them on Instagram and for the world to see. Cedric was so thrilled and that was just the very beginning of it all.
Now, Cedric has had a number of celebrities wear his pieces and it still feels so surreal. The legendary actress Lynn Whitfield has worn his kimonos on a number of occasions, especially on the show “Green Leaf”. Lisa Smedley, the costume designer for the shoe, had been a huge inspiration for Cedric. From all that she’s done and continues to do has helped him understand and respect the industry more. Also, researching and watching old performances of TLC, Lil’ Kim and even NSYNC have kept him inspired when his creative juices have seemed to run low. Always and forever Cedric is trusting God’s path and believing in his journey. Especially thanks to COVID-19, he’s seen how different each year can be in terms of making money and traveling but he continues to push forward and things just keep going up from here!
Cedric has many new ideas and plans for the near future. He’s in sample mode right now for a good slip dress and button-down silk top! Those far, Cedric has broken boundaries and continues to break into the industry, creating new levels for himself and his brand. I’m so excited to see all that he does and am here to support and watch it all flourish! Below are two video clips of the OWN’s ‘Girlfriends Check In’ and ‘Greenleaf’ segment wear his kimonos are worn. Also, the link is available to shop Cedric Brown Collections and to follow him on Instagram!
It has been said not all superheroes wear capes. These days, they wear scarves and kimonos. Like many people working in the industry, Cedric Brown always knew he wanted to go into fashion. From interning to senior designer of...
In June 2020, Congresswoman Joyce wore our accessories in several media outlets. You can see her on NBC4 news wearing our face mask live on air at the Columbus Urban League. Also, standing beside Martin Luther King III and family at George Floyd's memorial.
On NBC4, At the Columbus Urban League, Congresswoman addressed the audience wearing a CBC mask.
Actor Lamman Rucker shouted out CBC on his IG live. Please see the clip below. I'm honored to have him wear my pieces and to be considered his little bro. Mr. Rucker opened up doors for my brand. He helped get my designs placed in the hit show Greenleaf, which the new season will premiere this month.
In a discussion with Kevin Bracey, Lamman Rucker gives us a shout out. "They was sweatin" at the Tyler Perry Studios grand opening. See pics below.
FEATURED DESIGNER AT THE AKA GAMMA OMEGA PHIRST FASHION EXPERIENCE IN ST. LOUIS
The Phirst Experience Fashion Show, sponsored by the Gamma Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA), Sorority, Inc., was an amazing runway fashion show that helped raise funds in a collaborative effort to decrease gun violence in St. Louis.
The chapter has been serving the St. Louis area since December 1920. Collaborating with the Gamma Omega Chapter is the Epsilon Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
ACTOR LAMMAN RUCKER WEARS TO CBC TO TYLER PERRY'S STUDIO GRAND OPENING
In October, the stars were out at the grand opening of @tylerperrystudios in Atlanta, GA. During brunch, Lamman Rucker wore one of our oblong scarves. It's always a honor to have @lammanruckerofficial wear CBC!
PAGE SIX TV HOST BEVY SMITH WEARS CBC
Let's not forget @pagesixtv @bravotv talk show host and radio personality, @bevysmith sporting a CBC scarf around town. Thanks for supporting the brand. Bevy Smith purchased some items back at the Elevate conference in Atlanta
OWNER OF SPICETERIA, KIMBERLY MINOR, PROMOTED HER SPECIAL 40'S SOMETHING EVENT ON 10TV. SHE DECIDED TO WEAR HER NEW SILK DUSTER.
ALL HUSTLE NO FEAR RADIO SHOW SHOUTS OUT CBC
Co-Host of the All Hustle No Fear Radio Show, Tucari Keeby shouts out Cedric Brown Collections on the Black Dolla Holla segment
Model - @eden_lorraine
Photography - Andrew Gabay
CBC SPEAKS AT CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS FOUNDATION ALC19
CLICK THE VIDEO BELOW TO LISTEN TO THE FULL SPEECH
In September, I was invited to speak on a panel discussion at the the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Annual Legislative Conference 2019. The discussion, “Money, Wealth, and Disparities; Diversity and Inclusion,”was led by Congresswoman Joyce Beatty, and it was moderated by Dr. Michael Eric Dyson. After the speech, I left with a standing ovation. I gave my insight as a millenial and fashion designer. Check out the speech below.
The next day, I received the 2019 Beacon of Light Scholarship, from the Fire and Focus Scholarship Fund. My business received the Huntington Empowerment. The ceremony was held at the Renaissance Hotel.
MGM FOUNDATION GIFTS CBC TO CLIENTS
At the 2019 Women's Leadership Conference Las Vegas, MGM Foundation treated clients to A Girls Night at the Bellagio hotel. The night was filled with elegant, stylish women and fine décor. The ladies were given an extravagant dinner, and their special guest was myself, designer Cedric Brown. At the event, the ladies got to choose between a silk scarf or kimono, which MGM gifted them. I gave out tutorials and style tips at my top notch art booth, with a customized carved display with LED lights. As a special guest, I felt like a superstar with a limo for me and my entourage. Check out the magical clip below. Special thanks to Ms. Junior and the MGM family for bringing me out.
“I NEED ME A DRIVER TO DRIVE ME AROUND I’M HIGH MANEUVER.”\
6TH EPISCOPAL DISTRICT AME CHURCH WOMEN'S MISSIONARY SOCIETY COMMISSIONS CBC
6TH EPISCOPAL DISTRICT AME CHURCH WOMEN'S MISSIONARY SOCIETY STYLES IN CBC AT THE QUADRENNIAL CONFERENCE IN COLUMBUS, OHIO. I WAS COMMISSIONED TO MAKE CUSTOM SCARVES AND KIMONOS FOR THE GROUP.
WABE: THE STATE OF ATLANTA'S, AS TOLD BY ITS DESIGNERS
Atlanta is bursting with culture. From its dining scene to its breakout performers and tech landscapes, Atlanta is on the map — and other big cities are paying attention.
But with all the strides we’ve made, there’s one industry the city has struggled to get a firm foothold in: fashion.
“Fine fashion” has a presence here, sure — you can throw a rock in Buckhead and hit a dozen luxury boutiques, from Gucci, Dior and Céline at Phipps Plaza to Tom Ford and Hermès at The Shops at Buckhead Atlanta. (Chanel recently added a new boutique to this roster, albeit in Alpharetta.)
Yet, with all of the talent coursing through the city, it hasn’t reached the level of reverence — and support — that other creative industries have.
“Locally, it’s tough, to be honest,” says Charlene Dunbar. The Liberia-born fashion designer and former product developer created her own fashion line, Suakoko Betty, in 2010 as a celebration of the colors and patterns of her homeland. While she manufactures her clothes locally, she finds it easier to shop online for the fabrics and patterns she’s looking for.
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To overcome the deficit, Dunbar has taken the trial-and-error route of talking to peers and finding out how they navigate similar issues, from budgeting and material sourcing to sales and marketing.
“Typically, the biggest struggle is sales and marketing,” she explains. “I feel like it’s easier to find resources in the beginning stages for things like setting up your website and other entry-level things. After that, it becomes more difficult.” While more grants for designers would be helpful, she says the real gap is with lack of mentorship. “Frankly, a lot of us rise and fall on what you don’t know and can’t see.”
In 2013, Rosa Thurnher and Regina Weir attempted to bridge the resource gap they saw when they founded the fashion incubator Factory Girls. Their goal was to be a one-stop shop for high-end apparel designers in the Southeast, providing them with studio space, pattern and sample makers, production resources and more.
Shortly after launching, they created an IndieGogo campaign to help them raise $50,000 (they ended up getting 11% to their goal). Factory Girls shuttered in 2016.
Felicia Loewry, a former partner at Factory Girls and showroom manager at AmericasMart, went on to launch the locally based Assembly Line, a full-service consulting agency for fashion designers.
“No one else does what we do,” Loewry says. “There are companies that do product development and manufacturing, but with us you get someone to hold your hand and give you resources throughout the entire process.”
Along with development and consulting, Assembly Line offers classes and workshops to help designers build their brands and establish their businesses.
I wanted to come back home because I love my life here. I have the freedom to do this in a way I wouldn’t if I was in another city.”
Megan Huntz, an Atlanta designer
While perhaps not on the same scale as bigger metropolitan cities, local resources for designers do exist — if you know where to look. Ragtrade Atlanta’s membership program (which runs between $25 and $225 a year) offers designers free access to monthly meetings and members-only events, networking and mentorship opportunities, reduced fees for workshops, and promotional opportunities for their brands.
Additionally, SCAD and The Art Institute of Atlanta both offer alumni-centered career-building services, job placement support, advising and more.
While support is one thing, community is another.
Brittani Bumb, left, is a manager at fabric, pattern and sewing outpost Topstitch Studio & Lounge. Megan Huntz, right, runs an eponymous boutique in Poncey-Highland. (Photo by Bita Honarvar, left) (Photo by Kaitlin Kolarik, right)
“I feel like the designers of the city truly support themselves,” says Brittani Bumb, owner and head designer of local pattern-making brand Untitled Thoughts, which focuses on Parisian-inspired sustainable garments.
“Every event I have ever gone to revolving around fashion has been out on by some of the most hardworking and dedicated people I have ever met.”
For proof it’s possible to survive — and even thrive — as a local fashion designer, look no further than Megan Huntz. The Atlanta native studied industrial design at the Pratt Institute before spending about a decade abroad in Europe. She studied fashion at the Domus Academy in Milan, then entered the denim industry before pivoting from that career trajectory to launching her eponymous fashion label back in her hometown.
Huntz manufactures her pieces locally and runs her own Poncey-Highland boutique — she sells her collections at trade shows in New York twice a year.
“I have some great retailers I work with, and that’s a good percentage of my business,” says Huntz. “I opened the store in fall 2018, and the retail is almost outpacing the wholesale at this point, which is really cool. I wanted to come back home because I love my life here. I have the freedom to do this in a way I wouldn’t if I was in another city.”
Cedric Brown, who launched his collection at the age of 22, was commissioned by a law firm to create a collection of scarves, socks and pocket squares for an international conference. (Photo by Teresa Hewitt)
He launched his brand in 2015 at age 22 with his own funds and $1,510 from a successful Kickstarter campaign. Since then, he hasn’t slowed down. Brown — who looks up to fellow Southern designers like Billy Reid — sells his wares via his website, pop-up shops, trunk shows, art festivals, and through boutiques from Inman Park to Charleston, Chattanooga and beyond. He took part in Operation HOPE, a local (and free) 12-week entrepreneur training, and he makes use of other local resources such as Ragtrade, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Atlanta office, and NBAF.
“In New York and D.C., they have fashion and business grants,” Brown says. “I feel like that or a residency could be helpful here in Atlanta.” He adds that an off-season fashion event that draws big retailers and media coverage could also help build relationships and “let them know we’re upcoming in fashion.”
That relationship-building seems to be a crucial piece of the design scene here in Atlanta. From sharing ideas and swapping supply resources to collaborations and more, there’s an overtone of camaraderie that runs through the city.
Hannah James, left, has been part of pop ups at shops like Coco + Mischa, Citizen Supply, and Trinity Mercantile & Design. Laurel Thompson runs the sustainably minded kids clothing brand Beya Made. (Courtesy of Hannah James, left) (Photo by Kaitlin Kolarik, right)
“It’s a really small network compared to New York and LA, but I think because of that, everybody knows each other and is trying to help each other out,” says Hannah James, a designer and Decatur native. After studying textile design at the University of Georgia, James’ eponymous hand-dyed line was born when she accepted a 100-piece order from The Beehive boutique in Edgewood in 2017.
Since then, she’s been part of pop ups at shops like Coco + Mischa, Citizen Supply, and Trinity Mercantile & Design. “I feel like everybody’s trying to give a spotlight and space to designers to grow and connect,” she adds. “It’s been very helpful for me.”
Thanks to the opportunities afforded by online retailers and e-commerce, designers no longer have to rely on local support to succeed — though it never hurts.
“I would just love to see more of an awareness in the city of the importance of locally designed and produced clothing,” says Laurel Thompson, a resident of Avondale Estates who runs the sustainably minded kids clothing brand Beya Made. “I would love to see more of our local boutiques buying from local designers and getting behind our fledgling scene in a big way.”
What Atlanta may lack in comparative resources and support, its designers are more than making up for through scrappiness, creativity, and coming together.
“I feel like it’s an open opportunity here — you go to LA and NY and it’s so competitive,” adds Brown. “They have resources, but it’s harder to get opportunities. I was in New York and I felt like, even if I became a big designer, I wouldn’t be happy there. I like the way of life here. I wanna be part of that.”
TAMELA MANN SHOPS W/ CBC BOOTH AT ESSENCE FESTIVAL 2019