Song: “Free Mind” by Tems
Date: August 20th 2022
Time: 9:00am est.
On August 3rd, I had the pleasure of meeting with Emma Grede, the Co-Founder & CEO of Good American and she was absolutely amazing. I never had a mentor, and I never really had anyone in the fashion industry that I could just ask questions and get advice, especially of this caliber (Emma is a big boss)
On July 22nd I purchased a 21,000 square ft. office building for Milano Di Rouge that I planned to make my new warehouse and headquarters. After making the purchase I had a few conversations with some of my team members and my boss friends about my vision for the space and the brand. One of my boss friends that I spoke with was Lemier. Lemeir, is the owner of “Happy Ice” water ice brand. He told me he didn’t think I should focus on warehousing because it did not really align with the vision I had for the brand . He said, “I wish you had a mentor that has experience in the fashion industry that could give you good advice.” The truth was, I wish I had a mentor too because I needed some advice that I couldn’t google (I’m very big on Googling and doing research before I reach out and waste anyone's time). However, the advice I needed this time could only come from experience.
I told Lemeir about Emma and I asked how I should go about reaching out to her. I asked him if I should Dm her because she didn’t have an email address in her instagram bio. He suggested that I try to go through someone that actually knows her instead. (I asked his advice on this because he has a few mentors, and the relationship he has with his mentors helped him tremendously.)
I knew someone that knew Emma. My homegirl Baroline knew her. Baroline released her clothing line a few months prior in March 2022, “The B Project x Good American.” Myself along with several other girl bosses had the pleasure of being a part of the amazing campaign launch for the “B Project”. That’s where I first met Emma. Emma, and all of the girl bosses I met that day were such a pleasure to work with. The energy in the room was beyond amazing, it was filled with positive energy, lots of laughter, sharing beauty and boss tips. I started following all of the bosses that I met on set, including Emma. After following Emma on Instagram, I was intrigued. I began watching her interviews on YouTube and she became a mentor in my head.
Recently, I’ve asked someone (whom I’ve helped multiple times) to share the contact information on a company she hired for an event and I got the same results. Due to my experience in earlier years I was already prepared to receive the “let me see if they’d want me to share their contact” response. So this time I didn’t focus on the actual result. I just hoped the narrative amongst some women that “feels like there's only enough room for one woman to win”, didn't still exist. Because now there’s so many positive “women-based'' platforms on social media that promote '' women helping women '', including the Womanaire Club. I wanted to see if our “women empowerment” platforms changed the narrative. But the response I received lets me know that we still have a long way to go.
So that's why I was hesitant to reach out to Baroline. It took me a week to finally reach out to her. I texted to see if she could ask Emma if she could give me some pointers on a few questions I had. I mentioned I’d pay for a consultation (because I don’t mind paying to invest in my business, I know time is valuable)
When I texted Baroline, she messaged me back right away saying “Yes, this is what we want to do, we want to help”. She also said don’t worry about paying.
After receiving the messages from Baroline I sat on my bed and cried silent tears. Those that know me know I’m not even an emotional person, but just the fact that she was willing to help me made me emotional, I'm sure it has a lot to do with my previous experience.
I texted her, “girl you got tears in my eyes and I don’t even cry over stuff like this”. She told me, I got your back 100% and then proceeded to make the connection.
Ok, long story short;
I had a meeting scheduled with Emma so I began preparing.
I made a list of the questions I really needed answered. And then went over the questions with my team; Ebonee an Executive Coach and Catrina a Public Speaking Coach (whom I’ve been meeting with for weeks to prepare for my speaking engagement at InvestFest… I’ll tell y’all about my public speaking journey some other time) to see which questions were priority, and which questions we can google to find the answer to (because I’m not big on wasting anyone's time). I know time is valuable especially for a boss like Emma.
I wore a suit. I knew the meeting was casual but I wore the suit because I truly appreciated her making time to meet with me and I wanted her to know I was serious about my business.
On my way to the “Good American and Skims” Campus, (they call their offices a campus, I thought that was so cool) I started getting a little nervous. I had the same feeling I get before I go on stage to do speaking engagements. So I turned on “Free Mind” by Tems and started singing “This is the Peace that you cannot Buy” to help ease my nervousness. I also replayed the advice Catrina gave me as we prepared for this meeting. She said “look at Emma as You, as if you’re someone looking to get advice from Milan.” That advice helped me so much because anytime I meet someone and they ask for advice most times they are really nervous. And I always tell them, it’s ok, just breathe, and just talk to me like I'm a regular “degular” gir,l because I am. I always try to make them comfortable because when they’re comfortable they can ask the question and really hear the answer without their nerves kicking it.
So that’s what I did, I looked at Emma as me, and it made my nervousness go away.
She was truly an angel from the moment she walked into our meeting. She gave me a hug and proceeded to give me the most amazing advice, she was so attentive. I felt like a kid in a bookstore. So much knowledge was shared, and I took notes the entire time. The hour-long meeting went by so fast. After the meeting was up she told me she wanted to make sure all of my questions were answered. She offered to finish answering the rest of my questions in the car on the way to her next appointment. It meant even more to me that she took the time to do that because she’s a very busy woman and she went the extra mile to make even more time for me. This is a testament to how remarkable she is.
As the meeting was coming to an end. I told her “ I promise you, the information that you gave me won’t go in vain, I promise I’m going to use all of this knowledge to continue to grow my business”.
She said,“I know you will!”
We hugged and then took this photo.
My suit is from Nina Giyea, a designer from Philadelphia that’s based in La.
It was important for me to mention that to her because whenever I share knowledge or resources with others, the best thing they can do is, actually apply it. More often than not I’ve experienced sharing advice with others only for them to let it go “in one ear and out the other ear.” So when I see people applying the knowledge it makes me happy. And as I stated previously, I’m not big on wasting other people's time so I definitely have plans on applying all of the information she shared.
Immediately after the meeting I texted Baroline, thanking her so much and letting her know how grateful I was that she made the connection.
The next day, I sent Emma flowers and I know that the flowers don’t equate to the knowledge that she gave me but I just wanted her to have them just as a small token of my appreciation.
I also tried to send flowers to Baroline for making the connection but she was out of town. And as I’m writing this, it just reminded me that I need to send her flowers today.
That meeting was so essential, it was as if God was aligning everything.
Emma also told me about “the 15 Percent pledge”
The Fifteen Percent Pledge is a call to action for major retailers and corporations to pledge at least 15 percent of their shelf-space to Black-owned businesses. Emma is the Chairwoman for the 15 Percent pledge. I signed up the next day and if you’re reading this and you have a black business make sure you sign up as well.
I wanted to share this story to tell you how amazing Emma is. Being able to meet a “mentor in your head” and ask them questions in real life is priceless. We never really discussed the idea of her being my mentor, but the advice she gave me is mentorship indeed. She motivated me more than ever to continue “to pay it forward”. I promise to continue to build up the Womanaire Club, so more women can be comfortable with sharing resources, making connections, and helping each other grow. Our meeting helped me realize that I’m no longer going to make my new building a warehouse. I’m going to make it the headquarters for all of my businesses, with a focus on design, content creation, and production. I’m also going to start a Podcast. I’m currently hiring in the Atlanta area (I’ll share the positions at the end of this letter).
This letter is pretty lengthy because I wanted to be intentional about sharing specific details. As women in business I want us to use this mindset, “Water me, I water you, and we’ll grow together”. Don’t be afraid to share resources or make connections. Now, I understand some connections can’t be made because some people aren’t ready to be connected to certain people. Example, Joe Schmoe asks you to connect him with Beyoncé just because he knows you have a relationship with her. He doesn’t have a real plan on what he’d want out of the meeting. You ask him for a list of questions on what he’d want to ask her and almost everything on his list can be found on google. He just wants to be in her presence and of course most of the world would love to meet and be in her presence but you can’t have people risk their relationships and connections for someone who isn’t ready. You can sever your relationship with the person you're asking by doing that..
My long letter is finally ending, lol.
Milano Di Rouge is hiring for the following in-house positions in the Atlanta area:
Merchandiser and planner
If you're interested in joining the Milano Di Rouge team, email Careers@milanodirouge.com