Alumna bringing fashion law in vogueReading Time: 3 minutes
When Brittany Rawlings—then a newly minted law school graduate in 2010—sought employment at a Miami entertainment law firm, her first request was memorable.
She asked for a pay cut.
For Rawlings (BSBA ’07), the financial sacrifice was worth it to officially implement the fashion law niche she had developed during law school.
Five years later, she’s living that dream, and her professional accomplishments will be recognized when she receives one of the University of Florida’s Outstanding Young Alumni Awards on Saturday at Emerson Alumni Hall.
Rawlings, 29, has combined her three passions—law, fashion and entrepreneurship—into three dynamic, yet intertwined enterprises.
First, she established her own law practice, The Law Office of Brittany Rawlings, P.A., better known as the Fashion Law House. Rawlings, who splits her time among her offices in New York, Miami and Washington, D.C., counsels some of the fashion industry’s most popular figures, including Gilt Groupe’s Warehouse Events; designer Korina Emmerich and Layana Aguilar—both Project Runway finalists; New York Fashion Week designer, Charles Elliott Harbison; and supermodel Nina Agdal.
With the U.S. fashion industry accounting for more than $350 billion in annual sales, Rawlings saw a pressing need for fashion law. But when peers heard about her plans for a fashion-focused law practice, she was scoffed at.
“I got the Elle Woods, “Legally Blonde” stuff—the whole nine yards,” said Rawlings, referring to the 2001 comedy starring Reese Witherspoon as a fashion-obsessed law student. “But I wanted to prove them wrong—that it was a legit and unaddressed niche. It was definitely a motivating factor. It wasn’t always easy, but you have to believe in yourself to find success.”
Her law practice’s roots began at that boutique Miami firm in 2010. In return for accepting a lower wage, Rawlings was given the freedom to create a fashion division at the firm. When she wasn’t handling corporate litigation cases, she was growing the fashion division—the first of its kind in Florida, if not nationwide, says Rawlings.
“It was a risk,” said Rawlings, “but they gave me the chance, and that’s all I could ask for.”
Rawlings said the fashion division grew quickly thanks to her deep catalog of friends and contacts she had made through her own forays into the fashion industry. While still in law school at Nova Southeastern University, Rawlings launched her own fashion line, B.Rawlings Collection. She spent her days learning the intricacies of law, and her nights creating and manufacturing the accessories and jewelry herself.
“It was a bootstrapped business model,” Rawlings said. “You keep your overhead low by producing and manufacturing everything yourself. I did my own public relations, sales, legal work and negotiations. I was a one-man band.”
Six months after creating her line, Rawlings’ designs began appearing in exclusive boutiques and ultimately Bloomingdale’s. Her designs have been featured in international fashion publications like Vogue and Allure, and worn by the likes of Tyra Banks, Giuliana Rancic and Lindsay Lohan. Additionally, Rawlings was honored as a GEN ART “Fresh Face in Fashion,” an important distinction for a budding fashion designer.
But apparently a successful law practice and fashion line wasn’t enough for Rawlings. She is also the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of FashionBoss, a business intelligence platform that acts like a digital executive team to help creative people build and run their companies. FashionBoss—which is in the beta phase, but is scheduled to be formally operational in about eight weeks—tracks, automates and creates personalized solutions for each user as well as provides access to entrepreneurial services, legal advice, and fundamental business knowledge and practices.
“For a lot of creative people, the world of money, business and law is really scary to them,” Rawlings said. “By providing us with business vitals, we can help them plan and operate their businesses, and provide them the resources they need.”
Rawlings said she’s thrilled to return to Gainesville, and considers receiving the Outstanding Young Alumni Award a huge honor.
“I think any recognition from UF is special,” Rawlings said. “So many people have gone on from UF to do great things. It’s a wonderful place.”
DID YOU KNOW?
• Brittany said Wells Fargo Faculty Fellow Bill Rossi was a huge influence during her time at Warrington. Years later, when she was planning FashionBoss and couldn’t find her class notes from Rossi’s Entrepreneurship lectures, he sent her the materials. Rawlings went on to secure an angel investment.
• Brittany is an Executive Committee Member and Chair of the Fashion Law Division of the Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Section for the Florida and New York Bar.