In Fiscal Fashion
Impulsive buying is such a large part of the fashion industry that financial health is rarely in season. But financial guru Arnita Johnson-Hall has been working to change that. Through her Luxurious Credit movement, Johnson-Hall spreads financial literacy by offering credit repair and, more importantly, overall financial education. Her Luxurious Credit website offers general tips and resources to help women get financially fit. Evoking the fashion styling of iconic jeweler Tiffany, the Luxurious Lifestyle Planner Set allows for budgeting and personal accountability the old-fashioned way with paper and pen, just with style.
Although Johnson-Hall admits to not being a fashionista who keeps up with the ins and outs of the industry, she realizes that “fashion is something that [a lot of] women care about and adore.” Her concern, however, is that too often, “we don’t share the flip side of that [love for fashion], like credit card addiction.” For far too many, fashion has been a gateway to debt and poor credit. But Johnson-Hall knows that it doesn’t have to be that way. Fashion and financial responsibility can co-exist. To spread that gospel, Johnson-Hall enlisted fashion’s own Claire Sulmers, founder of FashionBombDaily.com, which has given multicultural fashionistas a spotlight since 2006.
“Her willingness to share her financial struggles was something that made me really want to have her be a part of the brand,” Johnson-Hall says. “I made lots of mistakes in my youth,” shares Sulmers. Like for so many young women, credit cards were often the primary route to getting whatever fashion Sulmers couldn’t wait to have. “I wrote a big post back in the day about dealing with credit cards and having to pay them off.”
Precisely because Sulmers has been where a lot of her fellow fashion lovers
are now, she was especially eager to join Johnson-Hall as a spokesperson to show a way out. “For me, it’s really about empowerment and education and making sure that people understand how they can get all these nice things that we’re showcasing,” Sulmers says.
“That is why I created Luxurious Credit, the planner and the overall blog,” explains Johnson-Hall. Her intention, she shares, was very much to provide “an engaging financial resource tool for people to use and learn how to [manage their finances for] themselves.
“You have to have your own discernment. You know what you can and cannot afford. From there, you have to become your own self-accountability partner,” she adds.
Being fiscally responsible doesn’t mean the fashion stops, which is the point of Luxurious Credit. Eliminating the anxiety brought on by debt becomes a lot easier to enjoy being stylish at all times. It just takes a little more planning Sulmers has learned from working with Johnson-Hall. “I think a great hack that I learned through Arnita [Johnson-Hall] is saving up for what you want. So I want the big statement bag, a Chanel bag for example, and so, instead of seeing if you have x amount in your account and spending it then, you create a separate account. You have a shopping fund.
You have to plan out your shopping. In the past, I used to go window shopping and just be like ‘I’ll take it.’” Johnson-Hall is no stranger to debt either. For her high school graduation, her mom gifted her with a great credit score of 700, but she did not know how to manage it responsibly. “It was very easy to get approved for [credit cards], and before you knew it, I had 25 cards.”
Johnson-Hall believed myths like that the debt would just drop off in seven years. “Not only was it not true,” says Johnson- Hall, “but a lot of things happened within that seven years. I ended up needing my own apartment. I ended up becoming a single mom. I ended up being denied a job. There were just a lot of life things that I needed that I wasn’t able to obtain because of my credit, because of my finances.”
“It took me almost a decade to truly be where I am,” she shares. Financial stability is an ongoing balancing act filled with landmines, she insists. “There’s always going to be life circumstances, things that happen to you that put you in a certain financial hardship,” Johnson-Hall says. “But if you’re saving money, if you’re investing money, you always have something to lean back on, and sometimes credit is what you can have to lean back on.
There have been plenty of times when I was trying to grow my business and didn’t have any money, but I had good credit, so I was able to lean on my credit until my financial situation got better.”
Getting your money right, according to Sulmers, is not a one-time proposition either. “Paying attention to finances should just be a part of your lifestyle, just like having a great diet or working out. It’s something that you have to pay attention to consistently if you want to continue to level up.”