Milan Harris, also known as Milan Rouge, can attest to being able to learn more from your losses than your wins.

Over a decade ago, the Philadelphia, PA, entrepreneur began to build her clothing brand, Milano Di Rouge, from the ground up, turning it into a lucrative business. As previously reported by AFROTECH, Harris shared in 2022 that the popular brand generated more than $60 million in direct-to-consumer sales at the time.

While Harris has been on a winning streak, she has also been transparent about hurdles she’s faced in her entrepreneurial journey. In an interview with AFROTECH, Harris recalls what she describes as “the biggest lesson that I learned early on.” 

Around 2018 when Harris was looking to expand Milano Di Rouge from only offering sweatshirts, she purchased button-up shirts from a wholesaler to put the brand’s logo on. However, the quality of the shirts wasn’t to her liking.

“The fit just wasn’t a fashion fit,” Harris explained to AFROTECH. “The quality wasn’t what I would wear and I’m always big on quality.”

She continued, “So when I went to H&M, I found the perfect button-up and it ended up costing three times as much as you would buy from the wholesaler.”

Harris’ initial intent to provide a quality product blew up into a backlash from one of her former employees, and the news of her using H&M shirts went viral. After receiving an influx of hateful comments on social media, Harris had a self-reflective moment in her car.

“I just remember I cried and I’m not a big crier,” she recounted. “I cried in the car and I said a prayer. I said, ‘God, whatever this is meant to teach me or prepare me for, I open up my heart to a lesson.’ And I backed out of that parking spot and I just drove straight to my office. And once I got to my office, I saw all of these new orders.”

She continued, “I just started posting content of me packaging my new orders and listening to music. And people were like, ‘Wow, I love how you’re handling this. It’s just so amazing and so encouraging.’ But it was nothing but God. So that was a lesson, but it was a blessing too.”

Harris says the blessing in disguise led to her sales tripling after the viral H&M moment as she also took that time to post positive content about what Milano Di Rouge had been doing for the community. It was a full-circle moment with her ultimately gaining support from people who had gone to her social media page during the viral experience. What’s more, the series of events taught Harris how to take constructive criticism.

Her tenacity has not only led to success in her company’s sales but also brought opportunities to be in the same room as prominent figures such as Vice President of the United States Kamala Harris.


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What’s next for Milano Di Rouge? As previously shared by AFROTECH, Harris is open to collaborating with other brands if it mutually makes sense for both parties.

“So that’s my new goal,” Harris said on podcast “Assets Over Liabilities.” “I’m so private and I don’t really try to share my ideas and what I want, but I’m manifesting and putting out there — I definitely want to do collaborations.”

She added, “I can see major retailers knocking on the door. I would like to see our denim in Neiman [Marcus] or Nordstrom… I would like to see it. Those are the stores I’d like to see it in because our customers go directly to the brand. But I know if people are in the stores and they don’t know anything about it and they just end up seeing the quality and the design, I know that they’ll love it too.”