Paula Whittle: An American Icon
Who are you, in your own words? (What/Who motivates you? What/Who inspires you? What is your Educational/Professional/Ministry background?)
Paula: I am who God says I am! Society gives you so many definitions of who you could be, but I chose to be who I am―a thought-provoking leader and change agent. God has always, and still inspires me day-to-day. I look to Him for answers, guidance and instruction.
My educational background consists of some college at the University of Alabama and Devry Institute, majoring in Business.
Tell us a little about your childhood, and how did your upbringing contribute to where you are today in life, and any relevant victories in life?
Paula: Growing up in Alabama, morals and values were instilled in me at an early age. I was taught business and money management which helps me today. I was also surrounded by business owners including family members that took risks and succeeded. Faith was a big part of my upbringing which kept me grounded and optimistic. When I was in high school, I begin business administration work and gained the desire to become an entrepreneur.
How old were you when you realized that you were called to ministry/entrepreneurship? Was it a supernatural encounter?
Paula: I have had supernatural encounters and dreams of my purpose since being a young child. I became an entrepreneur at 19.
In what capacity do you currently minister and operate as an entrepreneur?
Paula: I am currently the Founder and Director of Atlanta Fashion Week, Fashion Creative Agency, and Fashion Apprentice. I have always been a minister without the title, and I’ve used my platforms to reach and inspire people. I began to train and take ministry serious in 2011. I also became a Teacher and church leader at that time.
How did you come to launch Atlanta International Fashion Week?
Paula: Fashion is the heartbeat of style and the driving force of our society. Aspiring designers, models and enthusiasts needed a platform and an outlet for networking, promotion and presentations. Then, entered the concept of the Atlanta International Fashion Week, a vision of bridging the gap and connecting continents through fashion. Thirteen years ago, there was a void here in Atlanta for fashion and a centralized platform for designers and industry professionals.
It’s story time! Tell us what you’ve survived and how you survived it in building Atlanta International Fashion Week.
Paula: I am a survivor. From the failures, ups and downs to pitfalls and challenges, I survived. I remained consistent and believed the dream and vision that God gave me.
If you could turn back the hands of time, what, if anything, would you have done differently?
Paula: I would build better teams and I would have taken advantage of certain opportunities that were presented to me. I learned not to fear, and I should have moved forward with certain business ideas because each of them came to pass, but I failed to act. I learned that health is wealth and I would have made better health choices to prevent current health issues that I have now.
We hear a lot about success and making it, and while many people preach about success and making it, there aren’t many people telling others how to obtain it. How did you find success? What practical steps did you take to get to where you are right now?
Paula: First thing is that I’m not successful until I bring someone with me. I became successful through hard work, consistency, dedication, learning, and praying. In everything, there has to be a foundation and that was learning the basic principles of business, including administrative skills and learning technology. The keys to success are to never stop learning and to be a problem-solver by always providing solutions or what’s needed in the marketplace.
There’s a person out there somewhere contemplating giving up. What advice would you give her?
Paula: Giving up is not an option. As long as you have a heartbeat, there is a purpose.
Where can viewers learn more about you and purchase your products?
Paula: To learn more about me, visit my Facebook at www.facebook.com/mogulpaulawhittle and Instagram at www.instagram.com/mogulpaula. To learn more about AIFW, visit www.atlantaintlfashionweek.com.
Do you have any upcoming events or projects that you would like to announce?
Paula: The 13th annual Atlanta Fashion Week will be taking place Sept 29-Oct 4, 2020 with a Spring ‘Preview’ in March.
Interview by Tynisha Lewis