A talented Black designer with perfect taste and great potential.
With over 15 years experience and an MBA in Business Management, Towanna Walker is continuously exploring еру opportunities to enhance her knowledge and expertise to complement and grow her business Anjel’s Boutique.
Anjel’s Boutique carries Ready-to-Wear (RTW), Custom Designer Apparel, Career Wear and Casual/Contemporary Apparel & Accessories. It targets professional women who live in the Chicago land area and outside Illinois. Anjel’s has partnered with Designers in order to collaborate and customize designs exclusively sold at the Boutique offering the customer’s one-of-a-kind garments as well as ready-to-wear apparel.
Anjel’s Boutique provides services such as Style Assessments, Personal Shopping, and Special Ordering to customers during regular store hours and by personal appointments. Style Concierges who are trained within the fashion industry are available to customers on a daily basis with emphasis on helping women develop their personal styles.
Could you tell me briefly about your beginning in the Fashion industry and what inspired you?
I’ve always liked fashion and I’ve always liked to dress, even when I was a child. And as I got older, that stayed with me. I loved putting items together and I’ve always had that desire for fashion. How did Anjel’s come about? It came from my dad, he always said Charlie could have angels, Jeff could also have angels. His name was Jeff and he passed in 2008. Then my daughter was instrumental in changing the ‘g’ to a ‘j’, so instead of angel’s, it became Anjel’s. That’s how we came about.
At what moment did you come to understand that the fashion business was your path in life?
Honestly, working 24/7 when we usually worked 9-5, I would be so immersed in a piece I was working on and wouldn’t want to get off. I would be so busy shopping for customers, doing some research, trying to get the business open and so on. I would get so tired, but it was good tiredness because it was my passion and I enjoyed doing it. Also, when I see customers come in and they have no idea what they want or what they want to look like. We would have a high-level interview with them and come up with something which really leaves them feeling accomplished. It gave me a total satisfaction that we could dress people from head to toe.
What kinds of wears or clothing are the bestsellers in your shops?
We carry a mixture of both ready to wear pieces and we carry designer pieces. I would say my designer pieces are what sells very quickly. Even though they are at a higher price point than the ready to wear pieces, the customers like the uniqueness of it.
What are your creative business plans for the nearest future?
There are many boutiques that are coming out today, but we have to continue to be unique, different and maintain that cutting edge in the industry by being different. I intend to continue to identify local designers within the Illinois area, as well as outside Illinois so we could continue to have different and unique pieces for our customers. I also plan to partner and form some positive relationship from an international perspective so that we have an opportunity to create a different class of items for the store as well. Additionally, I am not going to say no to everyone that comes to us and asks if we could do a fashion show or something like that because we are not a really large store, so, I am looking to continue to market and expose ourselves in the industry. So, getting out there to continue to market yourself is very important and incredible for my business.
What are you going to showcase at the Black Fashion Week USA?
It’s going to be mainly the collaboration between Anjel’s Boutique and our new designer we are working with. So, we are going to be introducing hot collection on the runway. There’s going to be some transitional pieces, some pieces you can wear all year round, some other pieces you can dress up; you can dress down. So it’s going to be a mixture of those items. It’s important to have transitional pieces because, today the way the economy is, people do not have that disposable income that they did 10-15 years ago where they could go and spend $400-$500 on one dress to wear for one occasion and then that dress is just sitting in your closet for years. So, are you going to wear it again, donate it or you don’t even go back to it? So, we like to have transitional pieces where you can spend $100-$150 on a dress but you can wear that dress to many events and there’s the transition where you can dress it up, dress it down, take it out the side, you can wear it to a concert or something like that. So you are getting more value for your bucks these days.
What do you expect from the Black Fashion Week USA? How does it help designers to develop their business?
Well, we participated last year and the response was very overwhelming, people liked the idea. We were local and we weren’t able to bring out the entire store to Black Fashion Week. But that opened up an avenue for us to generate new relationships with new customers. The main thing is marketing ourselves, getting exposure out there to a whole new audience, as well as showing them a good designer with quality and affordable clothes.
Do you know about the trend “Black 4 Black” or “Buy Black” which calls people to support black owned and developed businesses? Do you feel like you are a part of this trend?
Yes, I do, but I don’t want to say specifically for African-Americans because we cater to all demographics. Although 85 percent of our customers are African-Americans, we do have other ethnicities shop with us.
What would be your advice to designers who are just starting up?
Never accept no. When one door closes, that means that God has a different door open for you. If you feel like at the end of the day you haven’t accomplished anything or you feel like things aren’t working out, don’t give up, just continue to press your way. Quitters never win and winners never quit.
I can’t imagine how difficult it is to create a clothing line. When people start something, they have got to keep striving and never give up, and sometimes they encounter some setbacks. How did you overcome your setbacks?
Absolutely, a major setback that I experience every year is the month of January and February where the business is extremely slow and I’ve learned up to the first year, people are trying to recover from the holiday spending and obviously, it’s the ‘go back to school’ month so, people are getting ready for college tuition and other fees that are associated with going back to school. So, I’ve learned that what I need to do is, those really good months, I have to make sure I accommodate for the slow seasons. Because the slow seasons put me in a position where I felt like, “this is not going to work, I’m giving up”. But giving up was not an option because this is a future that God has given me and I’m just there being used by him to fulfill his business. And I knew that God wasn’t going to give up on me, so I just continued to press hard forward.