By Mariah Kline | Profile
Everyone loves a rags to riches story, but few have a tale as triumphant as RaeShanda E. Johnson’s. The entrepreneur, Miss Kentucky Plus and mother of four has overcome more trials in 40 years than most people face in a lifetime. Now that she’s risen to the top, she’s ready to give back and help others do the same.
Johnson’s history spans several years, thousands of miles and a great deal of heartache. The Mississippi native became a mother at the age of 13, served in the Army, got married and divorced and was displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Though her life has been far from easy, she still believes she has gained so much from her experiences.
“I always say that people can take most everything from you, but they cannot take away your knowledge,” she affirms.
After graduating from Kentucky State University in 2011, Johnson returned to Mississippi with plans to start a nonprofit for teen mothers. However, her plans were tragically derailed when her life savings were stolen by a family member. She moved to Louisville to start over, but she had no money and no place to live. She took a job with Republic Bank while she and her children lived in an extended stay hotel.
While picking up the pieces of her life and doing everything possible to support her family, Johnson created a dream board of what she wanted her life to look like and shared it online. A friend saw this board and invited her to meet with a group of women who eventually helped her move into a house and get back on her feet.
In October 2012, Johnson decided to create a Facebook page with style ideas for women, giving suggestions for creating fashionable outfits with what they already have in their closets. Within a few short weeks, her page had gone viral and gained over 10,000 likes on Facebook. One of her followers, who happened to own a boutique in Atlanta, encouraged her to open her own store and subsequently gave Johnson all of the information and resources she’d need to get started.
“I knew very little about starting a business at first, but I kept my ear to the ground and did a lot of research,” she says. “I read The Voice-Tribune and other local magazines because I had to learn about the city, what people were doing here and who I should be networking with.”
Utilizing this information, she applied for a grant with Louisville Metro and was rewarded with the funds she needed to start an online store. She named it All Is Fair in Love and Fashion, and within 10 months her business had earned six figures. Three years after creating the Facebook page, she opened her style office in the Heyburn Building, where she continues serving clients and selling the hottest fashions she can find.
Fortunately for her customers, Johnson’s services go beyond just selling clothes. Women can retain her services for overhauling their closets and putting together all types of outfits, even if that means shopping for them at other stores. Her boutique operates by appointments only so each customer receives the time and attention they need. Johnson goes over each client’s likes and dislikes to put together outfits for their tastes and body type. All Is Fair carries sizes 0-28, including plus sizes and petites. As for the styles they have to offer, Johnson looks for unique items that cannot be found in department stores.
“The only requirement when women visit my store is that they have to come out of the dressing room no matter what,” she explains. “The long hallway we have serves as their runway for the day, and I want all of them to walk with confidence.”
Now that her business is thriving and her dreams are coming true, Johnson’s mission is to give back to the city that helped her achieve so much. She’s currently working with the Teenage Parent Program (TAPP) to help young mothers work toward their dreams.
“When you become a teen mom, you feel like your life is over,” she says. “I want these young ladies to know that that’s not the case. There are people who care about them, and they can still continue on with their education while raising a child.”
This month, All Is Fair is hosting its Second Annual Scholarship Brunch and Fashion Show. The show takes place on Sunday April 30 at The Olmsted. Proceeds will go toward scholarships for young women who attain a 3.0 GPA and are currently applying for colleges.
From penniless to sitting pretty, Johnson’s success story is only beginning. She’s excited to welcome new clients at All Is Fair and help as many women as possible along the way.
“When ladies come into my store, we have a lot of fun,” she says. “I want to help each of them be confident, and I want to give back to the community while I’m at it.” VT