Fashion Designer B Michael and Mark-Anthony Edwards, CEO of B Michael AMERICA, returned to Shenandoah University on Friday, April 13, for a candid discussion with students on growing a fashion brand in a global marketplace.
Session Topics Included:
- Opening your own shop or e-commerce
- The pros and cons of wholesaling to large retailers
- Retail distribution
- Fashion designers vs black fashion designers
- Luxury vs streetwear
- Raising capital for your fashion start-up
Recipients of the 2017 Shenandoah University Entrepreneur of the Year Award
Shenandoah University’s Harry F. Byrd, Jr. School of Business presented B Michael and Mark-Anthony Edwards with the 2017 Shenandoah University Entrepreneur of the Year Award on November 13, 2017, during its seventh annual Entrepreneurship Week, held annually in conjunction with Kauffmann’s Global Entrepreneurship Week, the largest celebration of entrepreneurship in the world.
Michael and Edwards explained how they melded the artistry of couture with the logistics of a business plan to turn their New York City fashion house into a global brand for wealthy women with the resources to spend thousands of dollars on a single item.
Michael said his ultimate goal was to create a legacy brand, but in order to achieve that dream, he and business and life partner, Mark-Anthony Edwards, determined they needed a retail presence for their brand, so they established a strategic relationship with Macy’s four years ago that has resulted in rising sales.
“Once you get to the consumer side, the consumer is responding to the product,” Michael said. “Either she likes it or not.”
In addition to larger retail chains, like Macy’s, the company also continues to work with independent specialty stores.
Meet B Michael
B Michael is a co-founder, fashion designer, and creative director of B Michael AMERICA. Presently, he is the chief designer for the brand’s couture and ready-to-wear collections. He received acclaim for designing the costumes with Ruth Carter for Whitney Houston’s last film, “Sparkle,” and ballet costumes for the Joffrey Ballet’s premiere of “Windy Sand,” and has received numerous commissions to design for film and television. B Michael started his early career as a millinery designer for the TV show “Dynasty,” and later worked as a millinery designer for Louis Feraud of Paris and Oscar de la Renta. B Michael is a member of the Council of the Fashion Designers of America ( CFDA ) and serves on the board of the Youth America Grand Prix. In 2016, he was awarded the prestigious Design Visionary Award by the Lighthouse Guild.
B Michael’s collections have garnered appreciative fans including socialites and personalities such as Cicely Tyson, Ashley Bouder, Amy Fine Collins, Phylicia Rashad, Valerie Simpson, Brandy, Beyoncé, Nancy Wilson, Susan Fales-Hill, poet Elizabeth Alexander, and Lena Horne, among many others. He has shown his b michael AMERICA couture collection in Beijing, China, Korea, and Shanghai, and his ready-to-wear fashion line b michael AMERICA RED is sold in Macy’s department stores across the United States.
Meet Mark-Anthony Edwards
Mark-Anthony Edwards is a co-founder and CEO of b michael AMERICA. Edwards is currently the CEO for Advanced American Style, Inc. which does business as b michael AMERICA. Since co-founding the business in 2009, his leadership includes successful startup capital fundraising, using the funds to achieve his vision to launch a ready-to-wear collection distributed through Macy’s that would be aspirational and broaden the brand’s reach. Most recently, Edwards has focused on business development, raising additional capital and strategic partnerships aimed at growing the brand and business globally. Formerly, he worked 10 years in wealth management and business management for the private business management firm. Mr. Edwards combined his expertise for business and marketing with B michael to create a business plan and financial model and together they founded Advanced American Style and launched b michael AMERICA. He serves on the board of Dream Yard, a nonprofit organization in Bronx, New York.