Milan Harris, the CEO and founder of Milano Di Rouge, The Womanaire Club, and the Mamanaire Club, is making strides in her sector. The 34-year-old set out to make a better future for everyone, including the black community as a whole, those close to her, and herself.
Harris began selling T-shirts out of the trunk of her car in Philadelphia, where she was born and raised, before her high-end streetwear firm Milano Di Rouge, which means “Making Dreams Reality” in French, went viral.
Harris said she was inspired to build her company when one of her customers left the warehouse where Harris was doing business because the consumer thought it was hazardous.
She said to AfroTech, “Because of his reaction, it made me realize like, ‘Okay, it’s time for us to get a store because this is not the best environment’. In 2016, we opened our first brick-and-mortar. In 2017, I moved to Los Angeles. I knew that I did not want to work in my store. I didn’t want a mom-and-pop shop. I knew that I really wanted to grow my brand.”
In a leap of faith, Harris jotted down her last paycheck and scribbled it in her Bible to prepare for the success she believed her business was capable of.
“I put it in my Bible and I said, ‘I’m not gonna pay myself. I’m gonna literally grow my team. So, that’s when I started to grow and hire different people to expand my brand. I moved to Los Angeles in 2017 to carry the vision even further,” she said.
Her initiatives had an impact, as she saw an increase in demand for her products. It was her first trip out of Philadelphia, which accounted for 80% of her Milano di Rouge sales.
Twenty percent of her purchases were made online, and she took advantage of this by promoting her business on social media, finally exceeding the first monetary objective she set for her company. She claimed that she and her team were earning up to $50,000 in sales rather than $30,000 in sales.
Harris, like many business owners, faced challenges. She added that there was a point when she chose to outsource collared shirts from H&M with her brand on them in order to supply her clientele with high-quality shirts.
Despite the expense, she wanted to provide her clients with nothing but the best. However, when customers learned she was selling H&M clothes, it nearly destroyed the firm she had fought so hard to build.
“It was a big deal and it was a big lesson to me because I didn’t look at Milano Di Rouge as big as everyone else looked at it. It was a lesson for me because it was something that I did not want to be exposed, but in hindsight, it was a blessing,” she explained.
“The blessing was, it taught me what I needed to fix. I took the criticism constructively and fixed the problem. From that point, all of our stuff began to get manufactured.”
According to Forbes, celebrities such as Cardi B, Usher, Lil Baby, Lili Reinhart, Monica, Ciara and her children, Glorilla, and Rick Ross have all endorsed Harris’s company. The brand has established itself as a mainstay in the streetwear industry.
Milano’s success has established Harris as an e-commerce and marketing expert capable of scaling a business. Milano also has an average of 20 million Instagram responses every month, over 500,000 email subscribers, and over 100,000 text subscribers who are excited for each new release.
According to AfroTech, Harris’ Milano Di Rouge brand has become a million-dollar business, with recent direct-to-consumer sales of $60 million.