Have you seen the quote, “Girls with Dreams Become Women with Vision”? The author is unknown yet the words are so profound they bear repeating. This statement resonates with women like me and women like you and most of the women you know. We are GOAL DIGGERS, HUSTLERS, DREAMERS, and VISIONARIES. We’re women who beat the odds and persevere until we are living our dreams OUT LOUD and in LIVING COLOR.
I met with such a phenomenal woman, Amma Johnson, and had the honor of covering the Grand Opening of her dream come true – the Amma Jo Showroom, in Harrisburg, Pa just minutes from the Capitol Building. This flagship store is one of many retailers inside Strawberry Square, Harrisburg’s distinctive retail complex and office facility in Downtown Harrisburg.
Who is Amma Johnson and why is she a Black woman in Business you need to watch?
What was Amma Jo like as a little girl?
Believe it or not, I was pretty shy! I was quiet and a little timid. But I was always a dreamer. I listened to music on my little walkman all day! Mariah Carey especially! And Whitney Houston, Taylor Dayne, Celine Dion- the soloist greats! I always used to sketch pictures of different outfits and clothing and ladies with different hairstyles. I always wanted to be a fashion designer or something with makeup!!
What did you study in college?
I ended up going to PSU for Marketing. My father worked for Penn State as a professor. At the time, I wanted to go to fashion school, but in retrospect, this was good for me. Learning marketing and branding has helped me immensely.
How did your previous career prepare you for the launch of your handbag line?
I firmly believe you can extract a good lesson out of everything in life and I do pray every day through the good and the bad for God to guide my path, even when I make mistakes. It's all I can do.
I believe that in short, my work experience gave me the foundation for understanding retail and understanding the ins and outs of entrepreneurship. I started my career in the buying offices of a major retailer- pretty much touched every women's department- juniors, better sportswear, moderate sportswear, accessories and cosmetics. I then went into store management. That was my first 5 years. So I understood pulling selling reports, in-store events, product promotion, etc. Then for the next 10 years, I went to work for the Harrisburg Regional Chamber of Commerce and that was also an incredible experience. I was surrounded daily with entrepreneurs- hearing their stories and learning from them. That helped me understand the value of relationships- I worked briefly as a lobbyist for the Hershey Company and that was a valuable experiencing seeing how such a huge brand is run behind the scenes. All my experiences were valuable and I decided it was time to fly and live my dream.
Can you give me 5 style tips or accessory advice?
Always have the basics to build around. Here are my style basics: black slacks, black skinny pants, skinny blue jeans, ripped blue jeans (just a personal fave) and a few black cardigans
Use jewelry to characterize your outfit
Always have a fresh face. Whether you like lots of make up or you like a more natural look. Just always have a fresh face and carry pressed or translucent powder with you.
Keep it classy!
Don't forget the fragrance! Unless you have allergies, fragrance is always a nice layer and a lot of women forget that. Every woman is unforgettable when she walks in the room smelling AMAZING.
How do you plan on using your showroom to empower other women?
I'd like to empower women by telling my story and sharing my highs and my lows. I think it will inspire others to hear about the ups as well as the downs. In the future, I also plan to help other women launch their brands and assist them in launching their dreams.
What kind of collaborations can we look forward to from your business?
Look for a very creative business model with lots of art- music, digital art on bags, collabs with other designers. Look for lots of collaborations involving fair trade and maximizing talent in markets that are underserved.
What can we expect to come from Amma Jo next?
My next goal is to get placed into 100 stores by year end 2017. In the next 2 years, I'd like to land a deal on a TV shopping network like QVC.
I expect to see great things spring forth from Amma. She not only is a business woman, but she wants to be a resource for dreamers, create opportunities for other entrepreneurs, blaze trails, and be fly. She’s living proof that you can be a wife, a mother, a mogul… all of that AND MORE (‘cuz she can sang too)!
Shop Amma Jo at www.shopammajo.com and follow her on social media!!
And if you are every in Central PA, stop by and visit the Amma Jo Showroom,