After traveling in Europe following college graduation, 24-year-old Shawne Reece Jacobs found herself in Atlanta with no money and no job. Armed with a degree and strong desire to work in the fashion industry, she took a job in the shipping and receiving department of bridal designer Anne Barge. She stayed with the company for 14 years, learning every inch of it from Anne Barge herself, who retired last year. Today, Shawne owns the company along with her husband, and while this Louisville, KY, native has lived in Atlanta, GA, since 1998, she considers both places her home. Shawne Jacobs is proof that hard work and commitment really do pay off, and today, she’s our FACE of the South.
How did you first start with Anne Barge, how long have you been with the company and what jobs have you done there?
I spent some time traveling in Europe after graduating from college in 2001. After running out of money, I returned to Atlanta to begin my job search in the fashion industry. I honestly didn’t think I would have any luck since most of the jobs in fashion were in New York and Los Angeles. I heard about a part-time opening in the shipping and receiving department for a bridal designer through the fashion department at the university I attended. I started working for Anne Barge in January 2002 at the age of 24. I remember thinking to myself I have a college degree. What am I doing in shipping and receiving? It ended up being a great decision and, as the company grew, my position in it grew, too. From shipping and receiving, my responsibilities shifted to sales and marketing before eventually becoming a contributing designer and executive vice president.
How early did you start drawing and take an interest in fashion?
My parents say that I showed an interest in art at a very young age. My mother is a retired Jefferson County, KY, school teacher in Louisville and some of my earliest memories are of helping her decorate the bulletin boards in her classroom.
In high school, I took every art class that was available. I was studying architecture my freshman year at the University of Louisville when I decided I wanted to transfer to study fashion design. I transferred to the American InterContinental University in Atlanta in 1998 and switched my major to fashion design and marketing.
What is your best advice for breaking into the fashion design business?
Be humble. Internships are a must! There is no substitute for hands-on experience, and they (internships) are a great way to obtain this. Many of our employees began as interns for Anne Barge. Similarly, don’t be afraid to take an entry-level position to get your foot in the door. Many companies in this industry prefer to promote from within — ours included.
What’s on-trend right now for brides?
I’m loving removable overskirts. They can make a dramatic statement and are perfect for a bride who wants to switch up her look after the ceremony to something slinkier. Brides are also finding an abundance of neckline choices other than strapless. Appliques and three-dimensional embellishments are of-the-moment, and we’ve loved incorporating them into our recent collections.
Tell us about your new venture into evening wear.
Anne Barge has always designed custom evening-wear gowns for chic mothers of the bride and for individuals with special events. My design focus in college was evening wear. I wanted to see the brand grow beyond bridal in this direction. We debuted a capsule collection in 2016 for the Atlanta market for women who are looking for something special. One of our strengths in the bridal industry is our ability to make custom changes. We can make the same custom changes with our evening-wear dresses also. Examples of this are adding sleeves to a sleeveless dress or opening up a bust cup to perfectly fit a woman’s body.
What is the easiest part of your job? And what is the hardest?
Easiest? Dealing with our retail stores to help them better serve their customers. The hardest? Knowing at the end of the day how to say, “Stop, this can wait until tomorrow.”
Give us a peek at your agenda. What’s a typical day or week like for you?
One of things I like about my job is that it changes on a daily basis. Some weeks will be focused wholly on design and production, while others will be completely consumed with advertising or other general business activities. I’m sure many others will agree, but it’s also ridiculous how much time is consumed with answering emails.
What advice do you treasure?
When in doubt, don’t.
Fill in the blank. You’ll never see me without my ___________.
Night owl or early bird? What do you do during that quiet time?
Early bird. When my schedule is at its best, I like to go to yoga early in the morning and get to work an hour before normal business hours. It’s amazing how productive you can be before the everyday items that naturally come up start to slow you down.
What’s on your personal reading list right now?
I spend a lot of time reading bridal and general fashion-focused periodicals. I also love immersing myself in Edward Rutherfurd epics about cities I know well – New York, Paris, London.
Lightning round! Give us your:
Candy or junk food splurge: Fried pickles
Guilty pleasure song: “Take On Me” by a-ha
Tearjerker movie pick: Steel Magnolias
Standby nail polish color: Soul Mate by Essie
Favorite cocktail: A NY Sour from Paces & Vine in Vinings, GA. The perfect concoction of bourbon, fresh lemon juice, egg white and topped with a red wine floater.
Cartoon alter ego: My husband says Mrs. Incredible, but maybe that is just because that would make him Mr. Incredible?
What are three things you can’t live without, besides God, family and friends?
Facetime. During bath time with my kids, we will often Facetime my family in Louisville. I love that we get to see them so frequently this way.
Tesla. I have a Model S delivering this month, and I am very excited. I love supporting a technology that could change the way we impact the environment. I also love that you can use the HOV lane in Georgia if you are in an alternatively fueled vehicle. It saves me 30 minutes each way on my commute.
My Erin Condren paper calendar. There is something I enjoy about physically writing down my schedule on a calendar versus looking at it digitally.
Thank you Shawne, and thanks to Catrina Maxwell of CatMax Photography for her beautiful FACES pictures.
Thank you to Buckhead Bridals by Guffey’s for providing the perfect venue.