Fatima Dodson sells Afrocentric women’s clothing and she created Head Wraps in the Park.
By Tracey Edwards
Fatima Dodson’s Runway Boutique LA has a collection of vintage, contemporary, and handmade garments and jewelry that feature Afrocentric styles.
“I love my culture, I love bright colors, and I love prints,” Dodson said. “I feel that connects us to our African roots. When you look at the African culture you’ll see a lot of mixing prints. You’ll see a lot of tribal prints and metric shapes. That’s what I gravitate toward when I’m purchasing for the store.”
Many of the items at Runway Boutique LA are one-of-a-kind pieces that are hand selected by Dodson. She picked up her fashion sense from her mother, who was a fashion designer and artist.
“I grew up immersed in fashion,” Dodson said. “I started off helping my mother when I was a child, and when I got older I started styling my friends.”
Dodson is from Los Angeles, and she attended Los Angeles High School. Before opening Runway Boutique, she would host house parties where she would invite her friends over to view her clothing. For several years she had a booth at the Melrose Trading Post, which is a weekly flea market at Fairfax High School. She went on to open her store on La Brea in the Miracle Mile area. Her store is now on Adams Boulevard in West Adams.
As the curator of the boutique, Dodson purchases pieces with a very specific style or person in mind.
“It’s all about the woman who wants to really make a statement and show her personality through her style,” she said.
One of the most popular items at Runway Boutique LA is the head wrap, which led Dodson to create a new venture. Five years ago she created Head Wraps in the Park, which is a yearly festival that is held at Grand Park in downtown.
“I started the festival because I felt that we needed a place to go where we could gather, celebrate ourselves, and support small Black-owned businesses,” she said. “Head wraps are a very big aspect of Runway Boutique. So I do workshops and classes. The question that I got a lot was, ‘Where do I wear this head wrap to now that I know how to wrap it?’ So I thought to create this festival where we can celebrate one another. Women, children, men, and families come out. Women adorn their head with beautiful clothes. People come to learn the history about it. It’s a really good energy.”
The head wraps come in many different colors and patterns, and they attract a lot of positive attention.
“When I wear my head wrap, I feel like a queen,” Dodson said. “I feel taller and I feel magical.”
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Dodson would host weekly classes at her boutique, teaching women how to wear the head wraps and showcasing the clothes at her store. But with social distancing, she has held classes virtually on Facebook, Instagram, and Zoom. While people have been less social over the last few months, that hasn’t changed Dodson’s customer base’s desire to dress nice.
“Even though we may just be running errands and we’re not going to events, looking good makes us feel good,” she said. “It brightens our day. Women still want to look fly. Earrings and necklaces are by far the best sellers right now because women have to be on point on that Zoom meeting.”
Harem pants and kimonos are also hot sellers right now.
“A lot of women want things that they can just throw on and not think about it, but they still want to look like they put an effort into it,” Dodson said.
Currently Dodson is seeing customers by appointment only to reduce the amount of traffic in her store. People can also purchase items online. Runway Boutique LA is located at 4755 W Adams Boulevard. Visit their website at www.shoprunwayboutiquela.com, and follow the shop on Facebook and Instagram.