From the beginning, Brooke Patterson knew she wanted to have a career in fashion.
During her high school years she worked in intimate apparel and noticed the market did not communicate well with the everyday woman.
Fueled by a passion to create an inclusive and diverse space during her college years, Patterson created The Agency, a student organization that specializes in giving future models, photographers, stylists and makeup artists opportunities to build their portfolio.
She is now the founder and owner of Brooke Shareé Lingerie, an online boutique and popup launched in 2017.
Graduation Year: 2014
Degree: Fashion merchandising with emphasis in Global Sourcing (now Product Development and Design)
The first summer after graduation I was focused on getting this lingerie business off the ground, but it didn’t feel organic. It didn’t feel like I was targeting the right customer and providing the right product.
I put the business plans on hold and went into luxury retail working for Saks Fifth Avenue in Atlanta and working the Fifth Avenue Club. This experience provided me an opportunity to work with private clients and understand what it means to clientele and what products a luxury client is looking for. That was the foundation to launching my business. After leaving Saks, I jumped straight into Brooke Shareé Lingerie full-time.
The purpose of Brooke Shareé is to cater specifically to the bridal market. There can be a lot of stigma when shopping for lingerie in a brick and mortar space. Our pop-up space has been extremely successful in terms of sales because we are able to be in front of our clients, do bra fittings on the spot, educate them on products and they have the ability to feel the quality of the product. That’s something the online market is really trying to figure out how to dive into because that in itself is something you can’t beat – actually touching the product.
What does a pop-up space look like for you?
Our goal is to create a safe environment for women to shop and be educated on their true sizes. We perform bra fittings and provide an opportunity for women to try on and experience the quality of our products. We want it to feel like we’re just an extension of their girlfriends’ list. Creating an environment where women can ask questions and not feel taboo, essentially.
You founded the student organization, The Agency, during your time in FACS. Tell us more about that.
My intention going into UGA was to leave a mark of some sort.
Growing up in the fashion industry, I understood that there is a formula to modeling in this industry; having people show up on time, knowing set etiquette, coming prepared with a model bag. Those were things that I knew but a lot of people were unaware of. That’s where the idea of the Agency came about.
We wanted to give people on campus interested in modeling the opportunity to build their portfolio while giving businesses the opportunity to benefit from professional models on campus.
We convinced companies they needed a social presence. We partnered with boutiques downtown. They lent us their clothing, we did the photo shoot and they utilized the photos on their social media for free advertisement and the models used the photos in their portfolios.
What advice would you give to a student who wants to do what you’re doing now?
Take advantage of being in this space. UGA isn’t just the college that you’re attending. Network. Business people aren’t going to reach out to you. You have to make it a point to stay relevant to them.
Visit the small business development center downtown. That, in itself, is extremely important because it’s free and free is huge!
Get out and meet people outside of students. I think we have to do better. We’re riding the UGA bus, we usually have our headphones and we’re really disconnected. You could be sitting next to your future business partner or future funding. You never know. People just don’t communicate anymore. You’re really missing opportunities every day.
What are some recent industry trends you are seeing?
Industry-wise I think technology is huge. Fashion industry people are coding now. Bloggers are their own marketers. You have to think post Instagram, when that’s not relevant any more, what is the next landscape and what does that look like? Being able to forecast trends is something extremely important. I would also say that although reading is not a trend and definitely archaic, it’s like the wheel – it just works.
What is your favorite thing about what you do right now?
I think the networking aspect has been really fun, but I think that it’s conceptualizing something, putting it into motion and then watching how everything gravitates to making it come to pass.
What’s your favorite game day tradition?
I think it was the pre-game fun; walking around with your friends going to the different vendors, playing corn hole and also I think that the atmosphere in Athens on game day. Everyone is extremely generous, free hotdogs anywhere you go. It’s amazing.
What was your favorite study spot?
It’s changed so much. When I was here it was Two Story Coffee. They closed it. It broke my heart. I don’t get back to Athens as much as I would want to, but I think North Campus because it’s in such close proximity to everything downtown. But it kind of feels secluded like you kind of feel like you’re in your own park.
What was your favorite memory at FACS?
I think my favorite memory is the entire Agency story itself, how it started, the friends I made. I still have those relationships today, which is amazing. We had an Agency founders’ party the last semester I was here and that was kind of our farewell to the founding group. There was maybe only three of us left from the original group and we had a huge party to celebrate how far The Agency had come and passing the torch to the next group. I think that story, the relationships and the impact that we made on campus is still my favorite memory.