When I lost Mia Brown’s clothes, she started a clothing line

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced thousands of Northeastern University students off campus last year in line with health and safety protocols, Mia Brown packed her belongings for delivery to her family’s home in Atlanta.

“I shipped three huge boxes, and only one of the three arrived,” says Brown, who recently graduated from Northeastern University in international business. “The boxes with my clothes and shoes are the ones that didn’t make it.”

Mia Brown's photo

Brown, a recent Northeastern University graduate in international business, designs the clothes she designs. Image courtesy of Mia Brown

The shipping company has lost its favorite clothes. With no better option, Brown searched the back of her wardrobe for things she hadn’t worn in years. I started changing it with scissors and a sewing machine. And so, much sooner than expected, she found herself acting upon her long-term dream of creating a clothing line.

Soon she started her career in the fashion field, Black Gate, Boy.

“I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason,” Brown says. “I don’t know if I would be excited to push myself to start my own brand if I had a closet full of clothes. I was already locked up during COVID. It was the perfect time to launch my brand.”

In support of her startup efforts, Brown received an opening sum of $2,500 Innovator Award from Northeastern University The woman who empowers Inclusion and Entrepreneurship Initiative. The awards honor 19 women who are alumni or current students of Northeastern University. The organization is distributing a total of $100,000 in grants to help fund 17 projects.

Brown recently moved to New York to start a full-time job at Saks Fifth Avenue as an executive trainee in the retailer’s ready-to-wear division. She continues to run Jet Noir early in the morning and after work at night and on weekends.

The Browns Innovator Award helped fund a production in Brooklyn of the latest JET NOIRE clothing line. Brown, who has been making everything by hand using recycled materials, says the manufacturing component will enable the business to grow.

“I basically buy discarded fabric, and that’s part of our story,” says Brown of JET NOIRE’s sustainability mission. “Everything is very limited. When the cloth is gone, that piece will no longer be available.

“Much of what I do is personal. Every piece is handcrafted and you are invested in our story. Once you become a JET NOIRE GIRL, you are part of our family and community.”

JET NOIRE strives to combine fashion and identity. “Mia is known for empowering women to authentically express their identities through fashion,” her website reads. “Just like any other art form, fashion can be shaped to reflect feelings.”

Anya Smith

Brown was the sole owner in every sense of the word. “I handle everything from outreach, customer service, logistics, fulfillment, social media, design, user experience, marketing, philanthropy, and more,” says Brown, who learned to sew at a young age and remembers trying to change out her school uniform. “I started the branding with white paper pinned to my bedroom wall, my little sister as the lead photographer, and $200 for the license. There was no marketing budget, no materials budget, no budget at all.”

BROWN’S SUCCESS WITH JET NOIRE IS NO SURPRISE Heather Hook, is a Senior Collaborative Coordinator and Director of Student Engagement, Affinity, and Inclusion in D’Amore-McKim College of Business.

“Mia is strength,” says Hawk, who supervised Brown at Northeastern University. “Not only is she extremely talented, innovative and entrepreneurial, but also extremely kind, compassionate, and committed to social justice and improving the lives of others. During her time at Northeastern University, she made an impact on our community that will be felt for many years to come.”

JET NOIRE approaches 300 orders from customers, and has attracted more than 2000 Instagram Followers.

Brown was 19 when her mother, Tisha, died after a 12-year battle against her Non-Hodgkin’s lymphomaIt is a cancer that begins in the white blood cells. In the darkness of her loss, she says, she has adapted with the help of her family in various ways – from cooking to using cars – as her mother would.

“I’ve been able to be strong with myself, and now there is no greater challenge than overcoming it,” Brown says. “I wish she was here to see this. She would be by my side. She would be so proud. She has always been my biggest supporter.”

For media inquiries, please contact media@northeastern.edu.

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