Style Q&A: Angie and Amanda Ashbaugh of Fab'rik

Sherry Beck Paprocki
Columbus Monthly
Fab'rik's mission is partly to help women who escaped sex trafficking and domestic violence. In Columbus, store owners Angie (right) and Amanda Ashbaugh partner with Out of Darkness, an organization that helps local victims of human trafficking. Some proceeds from the store's Asher line also help support abandoned babies in Kenya. Each Fab'rik store also has a baby it sponsors until that baby is placed in a home.

Editor's note: This is an extended version of a story from the October 2019 issue.

Mom and daughter team Angie and Amanda Ashbaugh opened a franchise of Fab’rik, an Atlanta-based clothing boutique, at Easton Gateway in 2016. Last November, the duo moved their shop into the Easton Town Center, into a more visible location for those who stroll the shopping area. Below, mom Angie has responded to some questions about their business.

Like what you’re reading? Subscribe to our weekly newsletters.

Do you have a background in fashion or retail?

My degree is in human resources. I worked retail in high school. Amanda, growing up, loved fashion. She always had a great sense of style. Amazingly, she never worked in retail. She started to pursue fashion in college, but after two years, she told us she didn't want to go back. She said her dream was to own a boutique and that she was ready to go after her dream. We had saved for her college, so we decided to take her college fund and put it towards her dream. In a sense, running a business would be her college. 

Why did you decide to buy into the Fab’rik brand, specifically?

We started researching boutique franchises. Fab'rik was the third one we read about. This franchise stood out because of its mission. Not only did they have trendy, affordable clothes, but they also gave back to the community in different ways. 

Tell us about yourself and your love of fashion.

I was a stay-at-home mom with three kids. Dressing comfortable made sense. I chose leggings and sweatshirts over jeans and a sweater. I think this is a pattern many moms fall into. I wanted to look nice, but I felt like it was a waste of time when some days I wouldn't even leave the house.

As the kids got older, I gradually started changing what I wore. Even though I was dressing nicer, there wasn't anything unique about the clothes. I looked like everyone else. When Amanda and I started to pursue this dream, we went into a Fab'rik store in Savannah, Georgia. When I started wearing their clothes, I got compliments and I felt great. I felt like a woman and not just a mom. It wasn't until then that I realized clothes could affect how you feel and that is when fashion became part of my world. Since owning Fab'rik, I have gone out of my comfort zone and I love it. 

Fashion has always been a part of Amanda. She loved playing dress up. In pre-school she was picky about her clothes. She knew exactly what she liked. She was going to wear what she wanted to wear. As she got older, her sense of style really developed. She paired things together that I would never think of and it looked amazing. In my eyes, she always stood out. She didn't dress like everyone else in high school. She was confident with her style. She went to college undecided and struggled picking a major. Her dad and I told her if she listed all the things she loved to do, then she would find the answer. She said, "I love clothes, shopping and styling.”   It was at this point that she decided to pursue fashion as a career.

Did you consider opening your own brand?

Yes, but with fashion being so competitive, we decided to go with an established brand that would help us build awareness in our community.

What was it that drew you to the Fab'rik story?

First, we loved [founder] Dana Spinola's story of doing what you love. It was very inspirational. She started with a dream of one store, and as she started opening more locations, she decided to franchise to help other women achieve their dreams.

Secondly, Fab'rik stood out from the other boutiques because Dana was very passionate about giving back. We wanted to be a part of that. We loved that Fab'rik had a purpose.

She started a non-profit called free Fab'rik to help women who escaped sex trafficking and domestic violence. Free Fab'rik takes clothing donations and holds free sprees for women in need. Since we are not in Atlanta to be a part of these sprees, we have partnered with Out of Darkness, an organization that helps sex trafficking victims in Columbus. We collect clothing donations and pass them on to Out of Darkness. We hope to hold our own free spree one day.

Another way Fab'rik gives back is through their exclusive clothing line called Asher. When someone buys Asher, part of the sale goes to support abandoned babies in Africa through Project 82 Kenya. Each store has a baby they sponsor until the baby is placed in a home.

Fab'rik's mission is "high style, with heart, no attitude, or sticker shock.” Fab'rik offers the latest trends at affordable prices. We are not a high priced boutique. We want everyone to be able to afford to feel beautiful. No one works on commission. Stylists are there to help you, not just to make a sale. It is all about the experience and feeling comfortable while shopping. We have some customers who come in and want to be left alone and we recognize that. There are other customers who want help the moment they walk in the store, from finding the right clothes for their figure to adding the perfect accessories.

We are there to help you make a purchase that you are happy with. We love to wow our customers. If you are shopping for a specific event and don't have a lot of time, you can call the store and let us know what you are looking for and we will have a fitting room ready for when you arrive. If you are a busy mom and find it hard to shop during our business hours, we will open early for you. If a customer has a request, we like to try and make it come true.

Is there anything that surprises you regarding today's fashion trends?

The ‘80s are coming back: high-waisted, mom jeans, hair scrunchies, headbands and fanny packs.

What's are the hottest items that you're selling for fall during this season?

Blazers, basic tees (dressed up with jewelry and scarves), animal prints and cinch waist dresses.