AIFW: Who is Paula Whittle?

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AIFW: Who is Paula Whittle?

When you thinking of the Atlanta fashion and entertainment industry, two words should come to mind, Paula Whittle. Allow us to introduce our Backstage Spotlight, Paula Whittle. She has independently coordinated operations and logistics for one of Atlanta's most significant fashion and entertainment conglomerates. Paula Whittle is the owner and creator of Atlanta International Fashion Week. She has been single-handedly influential in enriching and developing the Atlanta fashion community and inspirational in Atlanta to become an"International Fashion Powerhouse."  

PaulaWhittle began her career as a radio personality in Birmingham, Alabama, pursuing a degree in Business Administration at The University of Alabama in Birmingham. During this juncture, she became well versed in the operations behind the music and entertainment industry. Years later, she mirrored her entertainment and business background and launched a marketing and managing company, United Imperial Entertainment. As the creator and founder of her new company, Paula began working with some of the hottest celebrities, as a booking agent public relations specialist, and an entertainment manager. Paula worked in the entertainment industry for over 15 years in event design, media, television production, artist management, conference planning, and several major companies in marketing and entertainment. In 2003, she added managing models to her repertoire. 

While Paula was working with her newly developed model managing department; she attended New York Fashion Week. Paula realized the average consumer could not participate in most of the events without a personal invite. She also noticed there were very few Atlanta Designers showcasing their talents at the events. The lack of representation was very disheartening for Paula, and Paula became very perplexed. With all the cultural diversity, buying power, and influence Atlanta have in the fashion community, there was no accurate Atlanta representation in the most major fashion event, New York Fashion Week. She immediately began to strategize and decided to be the change agent to make Atlanta a powerhouse in the fashion industry.

Palais is the catalyst for developing and bringing the international fashion industry to Atlanta. Before Paula launched Atlanta International Fashion Week, fashion magazines like Vogue, Essence, and Cosmopolitan only filled their pages with looks from global powerhouses like New York, Paris, and Milan. Paula Whittle provided a platform for Atlanta's up-and-coming designers, models, and creative directors, by intertwining this talented group with the influentials in fashion. Avant-Garde fashions were not readily available to the average AtlantaConsumer. Paula realized bringing an international fashion show cast to Atlanta was an opportunity to create Atlanta International Fashion Week. This Atlanta-proclaimed fashion conglomerate has featured a wide range of designers Roberto Cavalli, Calvin Klein, Kenneth Cole, Juicy Couture, Rock Republic, and Andean John, to name a few. Atlanta International Fashion Week has also partnered with several international corporations such as Comcast, Mercedes Benz, PaulMitchell, W Hotel, and celebrity appearances by Kim Kardashian, Sean"Diddy" Combs, Dallas Austin, and many more.

During the Pandemic, what do you feel is the current state of the fashion industry? 

 The fashion industry has been financially hit hard during the Pandemic. Retailers and fashion corporations had to learn to evolve to remain competitive in these unforeseen circumstances. It is disheartening to see so many retailers closing and filing for bankruptcy in the fashion industry. However, with every obstacle, there is an opportunity. One of the opportunities I have identified during this tumultuous time is the new emergence of fashion and technology. The fashioning industry has found creative ways to adapt to the current climate. Companies utilize 3D technology for fitting, fashion shows, and runaway robots. 

We understand you like to give back to the community. Can you tell us about some of the programs and initiatives you have implemented to give back to the community? 

My passion and heart are for the community. My heart is for the people, and I tend to focus on investing in people. I have always supported the community because, without the community, there would not be an Atlanta International Fashion Week. Most of my endeavors were created to empower and support people in the community. I have worked with the City of Atlanta to develop several community-based programs. 

"Beauty and a Makeover"Program

My first initiative created is the "Beauty and a Makeover" Program. This program provides makeovers for homeless women and kids. This program is so near and dear to her heart because I was once lost, and the most significant thing that affected me during this time was that I did not feel beautiful. I remember I could not afford the luxury of having a new dress, getting her hair done, or even having make-up. These are all things most women take for granted. So I had to figure out a way to help homeless women and kids in our community. Since I am in the fashion industry and have access to so many make-up artists, stylists and designers, I decided this was an opportunity to utilize these resources to empower, encourage and support homeless women and kids in the Atlanta community. So, with the assistance of The City of Atlanta and my team of local beauty experts, I organized a day of beauty for homeless women and kids in Atlanta. I aim to help women and kids develop positive self-esteem while surviving one of the most challenging transitions in life. 

The Fashion Apprenticeship Program

My next initiative is The Fashion Apprenticeship Program, a non-profit program to mentor youth ages eight to 18 aspiring to pursue a career in the fashion industry. We must focus on our youth because they are tomorrow's trendsetters. The program allows them to play an active role in the "behind the scenes." I feel that education is vital, but the on-the-job experience is equally important to empower these aspiring fashion interns to hone their skills. 

I also have several other programs coming down the pipeline. I have programs that are focused on health initiatives and international expansion. I met with Atlanta Executive Team, Atlanta Mayor's Office, Atlanta City Commissioners, and the Georgia House of Representatives about the new endeavors. I want to support the arts and culture and other counties. I have been asked to bring my concept to several other countries. Therefore, my future initiatives will also include global endeavors. 

Paula Whittle, after 13 years of coordinating Atlanta International Fashion Week, what is next for you

My first goal is to see the expansion of Atlanta International Fashion Week to several different countries. I also would like to devote more time to my passion for community development initiatives in the City of Atlanta. I will be venturing out to do more in television production. I have a fashion creative agency where we do visual communications in marketing and PR, and she will be developing this company. I am looking forward to becoming an author, as well. I will is doing more in Atlanta and more globally. I will continue helping more people and, of course, investing in more people. I really to focus on doing more empowering and being that influence on those entering the fashion industry. I want to be that support system for people in the community. That is where my heart is. I foresee the organization Atlanta International fashionWeek branching out in the technological platform and in the television arena with more video content and a different film project that we already have in development. I would like to see The Fashion Apprenticeship Program taken globally.


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