Mimi G had a vision in her head. The DIY fashion mogul, who runs a popular lifestyle blog and online sewing school, was tired of rifling through piles of bolts at cluttered, musty fabric stores. She designs eye-catching, sexy patterns, and she longed for a fabric shopping experience that felt more like browsing the racks at a chic clothing boutique.
“I thought it should be like going in to buy an outfit, because essentially that’s what you’re buying—just in yardage rather than a finished project,” she says.
So she approached her friend and fellow sewing influencer Brittany Jones about opening up a fabric store together.
“Mimi has been my mentor for years, so when she said, ‘Let’s go into business together’ I was like, ‘Together-together? For real?’” says Jones.
They began with an online store last fall and made plans to launch a brick-and-mortar location in Atlanta, where Mimi G has a large fan base and Jones, who grew up in Columbus, could be close to family. In late July, they opened the doors to Melanated Fabrics inside the A&P lofts on Memorial Drive in Reynoldstown. The industrial, light-filled space has the same funky-cool vibe as Mimi G’s designs, with mustard velvet couches, tropical plants and a graffiti style mural.
The fabric selection is curated towards young, trendy makers—think: oversized florals, animal prints, faux leather, and buffalo checks—and a whole section devoted to menswear fabrics. (“There’s a huge hole in the market for shops that serve men,” says Jones.) The staff are all DIY experts who can advise customers on picking the right fabrics for their projects.
Melanated Fabrics also expressly caters to Black and brown customers, who Mimi G says are often ignored by the crafting industry.
“The name, Melanated Fabrics, makes a really strong point,” she says. “We’re Black and brown women who have created a space for other Black and brown women to come and find things that are attractive to them. We tend to like color and bold prints and we are maybe more adventurous in our choices, and our store definitely reflects that.”
In addition to selling fabrics and notions, the store—which is also billed as a “creative center”—will offer a slate of classes and workshops every month. In August, students can learn to sew tote bags, head wraps, sunglasses cases, and (of course) facemasks, and Mimi G and Jones have plans to add other courses like shoemaking, photography, and screen printing.
Also coming soon: a Melanated Fabrics textile brand, featuring the duo’s own designs. “With that leg of the business, we’ll be able to bring in other designers of color under our label,” says Mimi G. And they plan to set aside two percent of their profits each quarter to help creative entrepreneurs expand or launch their own businesses in the community.
For now, says Jones, “It’s exciting to finally do what we set out to do and have people experience our vision.” Their BeltLine-adjacent location brings in foot traffic, and the pair’s large social media following has already attracted customers from all over the country. “We had someone in here the other day from Texas. It’s amazing to meet people who love what we do and have been looking for a place just like this.” 881 Memorial Drive, open Wednesday-Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.