Bespoke: Cedric Brown and his Collections
By Anita Ward, Operation HOPE
As a toddler, Cedric Brown expressed himself best with a pencil, paint and paper; he saw the world through the optimistic lens of color and by the time he reached 10 years old Cedric found his voice and passion in art and fashion design. Even at that young age, he sketched and painted with the heart of an artist who had experienced the world. Red, blue, purple, and yellow manifested love, happiness and hope in young Cedric’s hands. Now 27, he brings to life those same emotions in luxurious silk scarves, kaftans, ties, handkerchiefs, and even socks.
An Atlanta native, Cedric was raised by his loving (and stylish) mother who everyday encouraged him, loved him, and told him nothing was impossible. Cedric was in the fifth grade when he launched his first effort at entrepreneurship – selling candy and CD mixes. With his mother’s support, Cedric pursued his passion for business and fashion. He competed and won art competitions in the US, China, and even Russia where his painting, “As the Twig Bends, so the Tree Inclines,” is on permanent display in the National Museum in St. Petersburg. However, being an artist of Cedric’s caliber didn’t guarantee success, but hard work, focus, mentorship, education, and guidance did.
Earning scholarships and grants, Cedric received his BFA in fashion design from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), where his professors encouraged him to incorporate his paintings into textiles and fashion. Again, it was his mother who really made that happen. She saw one of Cedric’s paintings and mentioned, “That would be great as a scarf.” Her comment gave birth to Cedric’s first iconic piece, and ultimately his bespoke textiles and accessories that follow in the footsteps of legendary designers, like Emilio Pucci and Gianni Versace.
Many experiences contributed to Cedric’s success; it truly does take a village. The Boys and Girls Club Youth Art Connection fostered his early love for art and in 2007 their Black Ebony Family Reunion competition, which Cedric won, provided the opportunity for him to spend the day with Steve Harvey. Cedric credits Harvey for inspiration and the commitment he now has to self-affirmation and personal vision. Operation HOPE also provided foundational learning for him as a young artist. He attended the HOPE 15-week Entrepreneur Training Program where he developed his business plan and sharpened his leadership and management skills. Relationship capital still remains an important element of Cedric’s business model and he now serves as a mentor to other aspiring entrepreneurs through the HOPE programs. Each year Operation HOPE hosts the HOPE Global Forum in Atlanta and Cedric supports the event by sharing his story and his accessories. Cedric’s accessories frequently adorn the necks of high profile bank executives, like CIT’s CEO, Ellen Alemany, as well as Operation HOPE Founder and Chairman, John Hope Bryant. Celebrities like Young Thug and Wale also wear pieces from the Cedric Brown Collection, and Brown’s work has been featured on CNN and in Essence Magazine.
Freedom and vulnerability are reflected in Cedric’s work. Colors, brush strokes, splatters, and trails define his aesthetic. Cedric is fearless. His pieces are courageous. The kaftans wrap the wearer in emotions transporting her to a unique place of bliss, happiness and reckless abandon. Wearing a scarf or tie from the Cedric Brown Collection brings instantaneous confidence. White, orange, yellow, and pink accent royal blues, passionate purples, and loving reds. Nothing is too bold. There is no room for reticence and indecision in this fashion palette. This is fashion for the free of spirit that is simultaneously abstract and defined.
Cedric Brown Collections are based on the artist’s original work. He begins with a sketched concept, develops an original painting, selects the fabric, and works with the manufacturer to create the custom textile and complete the piece. Cedric is intentional in his fabric selection, accessory dimensions, and, of course, the finishing stitch. These are legacy pieces to be lovingly worn and passed through generations.
How does this creativity move from genius to product? According to Cedric, there are three basic rules to keep in mind. “The first step is to believe in yourself and your talent. Others can’t believe in you until you believe and love yourself. Then you have to work hard, stay focused on your dreams, and create your own reality. Most importantly, take risks. Take a chance. Don’t live a life of regrets.”
Cedric Brown follows his own advice. Artists willingly open themselves to vulnerability. Authenticity is their differentiator, and as a result, the criticisms of their work are criticisms of their souls. Cedric confidently rises above the noise and continues to wrap the world in honest versions of his heartfelt palette of love and life.
Support this amazing young Atlantan and check him out cedricbrowncollections.com