Angela Watts is helping Atlanta look its best by discovering and promoting emerging local fashion designers with her organization, RAGTRADE Atlanta. Her goal is to build our city as a fashion capital that embraces cutting-edge designers and shows the world the type of talent we have here in the South. Get to know this lifestyle and branding expert and learn more about our newest FACE, Angela Watts!
Why is RAGTRADE Atlanta important for our city? What are your plans for the future of RAGTRADE?
RAGTRADE Atlanta is very important to our city because as an organization, our goal is to provide a vast amount of resources that fosters growth in Atlanta. Resources include grants for emerging fashion designers to launch and/or sustain their business, promotional opportunities, networking and education/workshops. Our future plans will include a full week of runway shows for emerging fashion designers, a mobile app and a couple other projects we cannot talk about now, but will in the near future!
What is your favorite item hanging in your closet right now?
My favorite item hanging in my closet right now is a vintage-inspired, long, leather coat. It is a fabulous coat. Each time I wear it, people ask about it.
With regard to RAGTRADE Atlanta, the Atlanta Apparel Mart, the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs and other fashion-related endeavors, where do you see this city’s fashion footprint heading?
Atlanta has always been known as a startup city. I believe Atlanta will become the city for emerging fashion designers to successfully launch their brands and their careers.
What fashion trend needs to be retired/avoided/put out of its misery, like, today?
I know I am not the first person to say this, but can we please retire the leggings? Leggings are not pants! (Even though they are very comfortable … LOL)
What’s the biggest challenge of putting on a runway show? What trends/designers were people most talking about after this year’s runway event?
For me, the biggest challenge of producing a runway show in Atlanta is convincing our city that this is not a regular runway show and we are more than entertainment. We are truly committed to producing a show that can compete with the major fashion capitals, but most importantly brand emerging designers from the South.
This year, our guests enjoyed all the collections and the diversity each designer brought to the runway. A lot of people loved the striped, wide-legged pant designed by Natt Taylor — definitely on-trend for spring/summer 2016.
Have you ever been interested in designing your own line?
When I was in high school, I designed a vest inspired by a Ralph Lauren Polo print (the print was on-trend during that time). After my first design, I lost interest as a designer — but not the industry!
How do you maintain a work/life balance as you juggle RAGTRADE and 10 Squared, your marketing communications agency, with personal commitments and expectations?
At the beginning of my career, it was all about work. I would arrive to my office around 7 a.m. and return home at 6 p.m. Once I had a chance to cook and walk my dog, I would jump back on my laptop to continue working. After a while, I realized my personal life and family were neglected. I made a commitment to myself that I needed to enjoy my successes more and spend more time with my family. Going forward, it was important for me to get the most out of the nine hours I commit to my businesses per day. It was not an easy adjustment, but I realized that I am only one person and cannot complete a week of tasks in one day. “Turning off,” even for a couple of hours a day, was one of the best decisions I ever made.
What do you think distinguishes Atlanta fashion from the rest of the country?
Atlanta and the South are not afraid of color and prints. We embrace it!
What books are currently on your nightstand?
I have several books on my nightstand including:
• Chess, Not Checkers by Mark Miller
• The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive by Patrick Lencioni
• The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
• If You Have to Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You by Kelly Cutrone
Who are your favorite local designers and why?
I have several, but here are a few of my favorites…
• Natt Taylor is quickly pushing Atlanta’s fashion industry to the forefront. A recent winner of Belk’s Southern Designer Award, Natt’s designs are flirty, yet sophisticated. Not only is she an amazing designer, she is an amazing businesswoman.
• I really like Cease and Desist. It is a menswear lifestyle brand inspired by the grittiness of street culture and the allure of high-end designer fashion. Cease and Desist has been very successful at launching several collections from Atlanta.
• Azede Jean-Pierre is not local anymore, but she has Georgia roots – she started her line in Atlanta. I love her passion behind the garments and how she continues to push the boundaries of functionality and innovation.
• Tracy Nicole’s collection is beautiful and easygoing. You can easily transition from day to night in her looks. Tracy Nicole’s garments possess a unique and subtle sexiness, and I love that pieces from her collection are interchangeable.
How do you define success?
For me, having the ability to do what I love as a career while helping other visionaries achieve their goals is my definition of success.
What is your best piece of advice?
If you keep comparing your life to someone else’s, you will never be happy, therefore focus on yourself to create the life you dream of.
What are three things you can’t live without, excluding faith, friends and family?
• Phone: I love my Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge.
• Daily Starbucks runs: A tall, two-pump, white chocolate mocha with extra whipped cream
• Flipboard app: Flipboard is a social news magazine for your mobile device and is a great way to read the latest articles on your favorite topics (i.e. branding, PR, marketing, fashion industry, technology). I always wake up reading the latest articles before I start my day!
Thank you to Angela Watts for her insightful views of our local fashion scene and sharing what she hopes the future holds for Atlanta’s most stylish designers and the people who buy their pieces.
As always, our appreciation to CatMax Photography for the lovely photos!