Milan Rouge, 33-year-old, fashion mogul, serial entrepreneur, and mom is a Philly girl through and through. West Philadelphia born and raised to be exact. Also, the first capital of the United States known for its American heritage, but to this day in age ranks above national average in terms of crime. Although like many other metro areas deemed partially unsafe, the city has its pros – from its unique charm in arts and culture and low cost of living.

What is it like being a Philly girl? What impact does your hometown have on the woman you are today?

I feel like we’re unique. We’re so down to earth. We have a cool style and we’re full of flavor. Even the Philadelphia cheesesteak – like it’s often imitated but they never can duplicate it. That’s why I became a co-founder of “Collegeboy Cheesesteak” food truck, because we needed that real Philly flavor in LA. Growing up in a city with humble beginnings it encouraged me to always be a leader. I prided myself on being the person that could create something from nothing. I remember when I was younger, I wanted to start a dance group, for the kids, who couldn’t afford to have uniforms to be on the actual drill team.
I was in ballerina school and my sister was on the drill team. I could not afford to do both. And my mom preferred me to do dance instead. So I did dance while simultaneously creating a drill team with the kids on my block. My grandma made us uniforms because most of the kids couldn’t afford to buy any.

We would also use recycling bins as drums. I never let money or resources stop me from making my dreams a reality.

Currently taking on her tenth year in business, Milan has been fortunate enough to build her streetwear empire which started from the bottom with 2 sweatshirts (they were 2 different designs, signature Milano Di Rouge logo design and 5 cities design). According to Milan, one day she just so happened to Google, “how to start a T-shirt line,” and from there her curiosity struck. At the time she was in college studying business entrepreneurship, so learning the ropes of screen printing, logo creation, and wholesale became her obsession until she got the right fit. Like several go-getters with hustler mentalities, Milan would sell her t-shirts straight out the trunk of her car. Driving all around Philadelphia making a name for her now upscale streetwear brand, Milano Di Rouge (MDR) which coincidentally means Making Dreams a Reality. Her journey is a testament to the world that dreams do come true and with all that Milan has going for her, she’s remarkably unpresuming.

So, you started with a sweatshirt, now you’re a lifestyle brand catering to men, women, and kids. When did you know your brand was reaching global success?

I remember in 2016 randomly going to look at my sale analytics, and I saw that we were selling to people from Tokyo, Australia, and other countries. It was very exciting and motivating! Now, we’re doing direct-to-consumer sales in 56 countries.

What are some of your keys to longevity?

Staying humble, trusting my gut, remembering where I started and where I want to go. I remember going to visit my dad in prison and he told me, ‘Never sell out.’ And at that time, it was 2015 and I remember I was so hyped to go see him and I’m telling him like, ‘Milano is doing so well, we’re always selling out, but I’m not seeing any money.’ Once he gave me that tip, which may seem like a simple concept, it became my mission. Transitioning my business model to never sell out allowed me to scale and grow my company larger than I could have imagined.

Your 10-year fashion experience received great feedback! What were some of your highlights?

The highlight for me was really being able to share my journey. I really wanted people to understand the trial and errors I had to overcome, so everybody could understand that it did not come easy. I feel like the message was truly translated. I wanted it to be about the clothing, but I wanted it to be also be about message of making dreams reality, and inspiring people to keep going as the dream continues. People love our clothing. For years we pretty much did basics and this year we turned up our designs several notches. We hired fashion designers, and they really elevated the streetwear.

You’re currently building a warehouse. Walk us through your business plan and how it will help expand MDR?

So, I am no longer making it my warehouse. I purchased a 21,000 square foot office in Atlanta, Georgia and I am currently making it our headquarters for all my business needs. It will be the headquarters for content creation, in-house production, as well as design.

 “This is the elevator year. Bigger and better.” remarks Milan

While she has no plans to open any more brick and mortar stores, Milano Di Rouges’ flagship store in the heart of Philly will remain as a premiere location that dreamers continue to visit. Milan tells us that she continues to live by the concept once spoken by her imprisoned father telling to her, “Never sell out.” Meaning, to uphold the law of supply and demand within business. While criticized for the price points of her clothing on several occasions, Milan stuck by her methods and only upped her production each release solidifying the brand as a luxury streetwear line. She also accounts for several trial-and-error tactics that ultimately led her to generating millions in sales.

Not too many Black women owned brands are able to stand the test of time, especially in a male-dominated industry. There were plenty of moments Milan had to prove she was more than just a pretty face. Milan has beauty and brains and a brand that is globally recognized in the United States, Canada, London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Australia with the majority of its sales direct- to-consumer. Milan shares that her new focus will be retail merchandising to attract more dreamers. There’s no doubt in her mind Milano Di Rouge will gross sales in a retail market and will feed her strategy of expansion.

What she considers humble beginnings, has shaped her into a successful mogul of today’s inspiring generation, and she does it with stunning poise and humility. Milan always makes it a point to give back to her community and share motivating ‘a-ha’ moments to her vast social media platforms. Add in being a first-time mom to the picture, which made Milan go even harder. In just a decade Milan grew into an empire employing over 35 staff members, while grossing into 8-figures. The Philly native turned uptown girl continues to dream on.

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