Fashion ICON Angela Johnson puts Arizona Manufacturing on the MAP!

Posted: Mar 02 2016


Hello lovely fashion birds!  Hopefully you are doing something fabulously creative and spreading your wings far and wide.

Every so often, you get a chance to meet a visionary, someone who truly sees far beyond what is imaginable and today you will get a chance to meet one of those visionaries. We had the distinct pleasure of interviewing a preeminent ICON of Fashion in the valley, Angela Johnson! Angela has been pioneering the Fashion movement in Arizona successfully for years! She has initiated (and continues to) numerous Fashion organizations, programs and events to help optimize the Fashion industry in Arizona and we must say, she has been making a Splash with some BIG, awesome waves! First and foremost, Angela is the nicest, most giving and Open person you will ever meet.  Her warmth is inviting and the breadth and depth of her knowledge in the Fashion Industry impressive.  This mother of two is an established fashion designer, founder & creator of LabelHorde (Arizona's "hautest" fashion headquarters), fashion instructor, illustrator, and oh so much more.  We are so grateful for the opportunity to learn more about this Fashion ICON that's making it "SPARK" right here in Arizona.



#askjo Exclusive Interview: Angela Johnson
1. Considered Arizona’s Hottest Fashion Headquarters, how did your idea and concept of LabelHorde develop?
I used to manufacture my own clothing brand called monkeywench back in the 1990’s in Los Angeles. I had to move to AZ for family reasons. I ended up having to close down monkeywench because of the lack of design and manufacturing resources in AZ. I eventually met a lot of designers who were in the same situation by getting involved in the Phoenix Art Museum’s fashion events. To keep my creative juices flowing, I created a smaller collection of upcycled Tshirt dresses (one of a kinds so I didn’t need manufacturing resources) and I started putting on fashion shows around the valley in the early 2000’s with all of these designers including quarterly shows at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Arts and many art galleries and nightclubs and hotels. Eventually, I built a network of designers, models, stylists, boutiques and more. That is when I thought of bringing them all together in one place and decided to create LabelHorde. Originally it was a magazine/directory and inside it was broken up into different categories…designers, models, boutiques, stylists, misc.  But printing this directory and keeping up on when these businesses changed addresses or went out of business or when a new one started was costly and time consuming and taking away from my own fashion brand. I eventually stopped printing the magazine, but still kept all of the fashion businesses in my email database and was constantly keeping everyone informed about fashion events, fashion news, fashion jobs, etc… I watched the industry grow and saw 3 fashion weeks start, hundreds of designers start collections and eventually leave Arizona due to the lack of manufacturing, but noticed that there were still a few that were staying here and were needing my help and experience from LA with sourcing and figuring out how to creatively navigate this manufacturing issue. So, once I started to see that there were a lot more brands who were staying here and actually had backing, I thought it was a good time to officially re-launch LabelHorde again so that it could provide sourcing for them once again. This time I launched it online only so we could avoid having to come up with so much money for printing. Then in addition to the directory, I also added a jobs classifieds page, fashion events calendar and news feed. Then most recently, we’ve found a location to move into and now we offer all of the services that are so hard for designers/brands to find in AZ like pattern making, sample sewing, tech pack guidance, pattern grading, consulting and education and so much more. We are now about to add manufacturing!
2. Being such a strong figure in the Fashion movement in Arizona, how did you first begin your experience in fashion?
I graduated from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles and started working for a company called X-Large Manufacturing (owned by Mike. Diamond of the Beastie Boys) and X-Girl (owned by Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth). I started as a cutter and moved my way up through design and eventually into the Production Manager position. This gave me the experience and contacts to start my own brand monkeywench with a financial partner who was an actress named Christie Clark from Days of Our Lives. We sold internationally and were in business for about 4 years before I moved to Arizona and had to close it down due to lack of manufacturing resources here. That’s when I started to teach fashion classes. I’ve taught fashion design related classes at Arizona State University, Mesa Community College, Collins College, The Art Institute of Phoenix, and New School for the Arts as well as my own private lessons at my studio.
3. What are three challenges you have faced in the past as an entrepreneur?
The biggest obstacle I’ve faced is trying to pay the bills while starting a business. It’s a catch 22 because as an entrepreneur, you need to dedicate more than full time to your business, but you also need to pay the bills to survive and most businesses need time before they start bringing in income. So, the big challenge is being torn between having to continue to work a full time job while starting your business and still being able to put full time into your business. It’s a huge challenge and I’ve had to work six part time jobs simultaneously to pull it off….teaching at three colleges simultaneously (ASU, MCC and Collins College) while running two businesses (my clothing line and LabelHorde) and donating my time to be the Director of Fashion Group International of AZ because it gives me the connections and reputation to make the rest of my jobs even easier.
4. Being one of leaders in entrepreneurial fashion in Arizona, what is your advice for young individuals that are involved in the fashion industry that would like to begin their own businesses?
For years I’ve had to advise that they all need to move to Los Angeles or New York or one of the other cities where there is an actual fashion industry and resources which means jobs. But I’m trying to be the change that sparks the growth of a fashion industry in Arizona hoping that more graduates and fashion brands can stay here.
Another bit of advice I have for someone who is starting their own fashion business right out of school…now you have the skills, but you don’t have the real industry experience. Don’t start your business until you’ve worked in the industry first for someone else.
LabelHorde Fashion Headquarters is housed in the actual Diego Milano manufacturing space. LabelHorde is a total "Fashion Incubator" offering designer co-working studio space, fashion-related classes and lessons, fashion camps, sketching lessons, consulting, sewing lessons, networking opportunities, and SO MUCH MORE. If you're absolutely passionate about learning about fashion, we suggest this is the place to truly immerse yourself in all-things fashion and the opportunity to learn from the best! 
LabelHorde is by appointment only, so feel free to check out the site here:
7326 E. Evans Rd. Suite E, Scottsdale Arizona 85260
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