Women share business stories, tips at monthly roundtable

When Quinay Baker was working in the fabric industry in New York City she noticed a busload of women who had come fabric shopping from Atlanta. “I remember thinking, ‘Why would an entire bus full of people come all the way from Atlanta to buy fabric?’ Then it hit me there must not be a store in Atlanta that sells the fabrics that are available in New York’s famed garment district.”

Baker, CEO and founder of Q & A Fabric Studio in Atlanta, told that story Nov. 7 at Collab Atlanta’s Women’s Entrepreneur Roundtable at Fleurty Wick Candle Co. in Avondale Estates. Her realization that there were opportunities to grow and diversify Atlanta’s fashion industry prompted Baker to come South. “I could see that Atlanta needs a garment district similar to the ones in New York and LA. I wanted to help make that happen. I left New York with a vision and $83.”

With help from relatives, Baker brought her knowledge of the fashion industry to Atlanta in what she said is “a special way”  that would “bring together the fashion community and assist designers with resources that they may not have had access to in the past.” 

At Q & A Fabric Studio, DeKalb County resident Baker hosts seminars and offers classes in such skills as sewing, pattern making and starting a fashion collection for people throughout the Atlanta area who have an interest in fashion. She said her dream is to be one of the leading women in Atlanta’s fashion industry and for Atlanta to be recognized as a fashion capital.

Baker, who studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology and worked many years in the fashion industry, explained that her interest in fashion was inspired by a seamstress aunt. “She could literally look at a dress in a department store window and go home and make that dress. I grew up fascinated by fashion fabrics and everything related to it.” She added that Q & A Fabric Studio is “just the beginning” of what she hopes to bring to Atlanta’s fashion scene. 

The monthly roundtables, which include speakers such as Baker as well as informal discussions of business issues, are open to women who are small business owners or are starting a business. “This is a space to provide resources, network with other women who own small businesses, share leads and grow your business. Our guest speakers will be people and organizations that can help you to scale up and assist in areas that you may need help,” states roundtable host Kim Braud, owner of Fleurty Wick Candle Co., in her online description of Women’s Entrepreneur Roundtable

Braud said the sessions are limited to 20 women to keep them intimate and casual. “From business concept to million-dollar organizations, we have representation every step of the way. We highlight local women owned businesses and give them a platform to share their journey while celebrating their success,” she said.

The Nov. 7 session included a discussion on ways small businesses can best take advantage of the upcoming holiday season. “You know Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving is just part of a cluster of spending days right after Thanksgiving. The day following Black Friday is Small Business Saturday and the following Monday is Cyber Monday,” Braud reminded the group. “People are ready to spend, and you should be ready to respond.”

Braud offered suggestions on pulling in customers during the post-Thanksgiving weekend by offering short-term sales, special giveaways and hints at new items that will be available for the holiday season.
There also was a discussion on using social media to promote business. Group members told others of apps and strategies that have worked well for them.

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