Melanated Fabrics: New Fabric Retailer Promotes Inclusivity
The sewing world is welcoming a new fabric retailer in Melanated Fabrics. A collaboration of two social media mavens, Mimi G. Ford and Brittany Jones, the business aims to curate and provide high-quality fabrics, while striving for inclusivity and representation for all sewers. They intend to promote diversity and inclusivity across the business, including staffing choices, gender-inclusive planning in the Dope Men Sew curated portion of the line, and more. Mimi G. and Brittany declare that, “this is a business founded by two women of color who see the importance of representation and are on a mission to show that sewing is about inclusivity.”
Friends and business partners
Co-owners Mimi G. and Brittany are each successful entrepreneurs who are also friends. They first met at one of Mimi G.’s sewing conferences. Previously a follower of Mimi G.’s blog, Brittany says, “I felt like I’d already known Mimi when we finally met . . . you know how you follow people online and you feel like you’re their friend, but it’s only in your head. That was me!”
When the idea of curating a fabric store surfaced, they embraced the challenge and excitement of collaborating on the project.
Given their close connections with the sewing community after years of blogging and creating online content, Mimi G. and Brittany are confident they know what their customers want. “I think over the years, both Brittany and I have gained so much from being so hands-on with our followers that it has given us invaluable insight,” Mimi G. says. “At the end of the day, we are home sewists, too, and we sew as a hobby, so we have a consumer perspective.”
Melanated Fabric’s primary focus is on fabric choice and quality. Mimi G. noted that “it’s important that our selections reflect our customers. We always want to make sure we stock bold prints, colorful prints, and coordinating solids.” At the same time, Brittany explained that the selection is also “a reflection of our personal styles and what we love.” She went to say “I want to be able to buy a bottom weight and a blouse weight that easily coordinates without having to search so much, so we try to keep that in mind as we curate fabrics.”
There is a wide selection of fabrics in the shop—including Mimi G. and Brittany’s favorites: rayons, linens, cottons, and knits, plus a variety of organic and sustainable options. They vow to constantly expand and add high-quality offerings to the inventory, so it remains fresh. Mimi G. pointed out that “It’s important to us that customers are delighted with their purchase and that the garment they make will last them many years to come.”
Roles and responsibilities
Joining forces has been smooth. “We do almost everything together when it comes to any significant decisions that we need to make,” Mimi G. said. She explained that the day-to-day responsibilities are split. Mimi G. handles the financials, fabric sourcing, ordering, and marketing. Brittany sees to the orders, packing, shipping, and customer service.
The addition of Melanated Fabrics to her workload has been “seamless” for Mimi G. “I am so used to running multiple companies simultaneously and still managing to create DIY content for my blog and social accounts that I don’t think I know how to function any other way.” For Brittany, however, there has definitely been a transition. “It has certainly been tough and a challenge to keep up with my DIY content, mainly because I’ve been trying to create like I was before Melanated Fabrics and I just can’t do that anymore. Before Melanated Fabrics, I was home and I could create the majority of the day if I wanted to. Now, I work outside of the home, so that’s taking a little figuring out with my schedule, but I’ve gotten into a groove and a routine,” she said.
Melanated Fabrics’ Atlanta shop
Melanated Fabrics has already moved beyond online-only sales—available at MelanatedFabrics.com—to a brick-and-mortar shop that just opened in late July 2021 in downtown Atlanta. “We are opening the first Melanated Fabric Store and Creative Center where you can take classes, shop fabrics, and enjoy the vibe,” Mimi G. explains. “This will not be your average fabric store, that’s for sure,” she says. “We have taken a lot of time to think of how we want the store to feel when you come to shop. We are so excited about this new addition to Melanated Fabrics!”
Mimi G. and Brittany pledge that through the store and other offerings, whether online or in person, and in conjunction with their other businesses, they will continue to promote inclusivity in the industry and engage everyone who sews and creates. To that end, they have begun their Creative Business Grant program. They pledge 2 percent of profits each quarter to an individual looking to start or grow a business within the community. “Our mission at Melanated Fabrics is to provide a place that recognizes and includes,” Mimi G. says. As far as inclusivity goes, “We still have a long way to go as an industry, but if we can work together, we can make it happen.”