Stevo Johnson, founder of Matti Rouse Apparel, started his fashion enterprise via “the sale of a single t-shirt.” Not only did he have a knack for fashion, he also caught the fashion bug. So he cashed in his employee stock withholdings and invested in his dream of being a designer.
To start, he began working for some major footwear and apparel outfits, which led him to a management position at Foot Locker stores. Once he had some corporate experience under his belt, Stevo figured that it was time to set out on his own. But instead of going down the same roads as everyone else, Stevo came up with a business plan to rent convention centers, to host ‘fashion & hair shows.’
Stevo is also a freelance writer for Ebony Magazine and celebrates his 23rd anniversary as owner and designer of Matti Rouse.
Along with the shows, Stevo began to immerse himself in the various lifestyle culture pursuits that would round out, and build up, his design portfolio. This included writing for a number of lifestyle magazines.
Ultimately, he began rubbing shoulders with a number of big names in the entertainment industry. He says that a career-changing opportunity presented itself when he met Rhon Padmore, who was, at the time, celebrity stylist for Mary J. Blige. It was these types of connections that opened doors for Stevo – his “urban sophisticated lifestyle brand” label has since been worn by numerous A-listers. Stevo has also made appearances on the Oprah Winfrey Show, as well as on the pages of Ebony Magazine.
As a way to celebrate and share his successes in the fashion and design industry, Stevo is hosting a 716 Urban Fashion Pop-Up this coming Sunday, June 27 at the Johnnie B. Wiley Stadium, 1100 Jefferson Avenue, from 12pm to 5pm.
Local designers, entrepreneurs, and labels representing at the event include Drip God, Get Lush, The Barbie Wooten, A Rushing Bakery, K-Shine Vegan Products, Ruth L. Holley Fashion Studio, Plug Life, International Dough, Paparazzi by Leah White, Out-West Clothing, Respect My Blessings, Lala’s Luscious Charms, C’s Smoke Shop, Cuts by Jay, and, of course, Matti Rouse.
Lead image: Photos by Isiah Patton