In observance of National Veterans and Military Families Month, FSC First is proud to spotlight
A’ngela D. Dunn, an Army veteran and entrepreneur, who is set to launch a fashion business in
the first quarter of 2024.

Growing up, Dunn was inspired by her two aunts, uncle, and mother, who were skilled in
sewing. Dunn says she used to “stick to them like Velcro.”

“I thought they used to do magic because they would have this piece of fabric. And then, the
next thing you know, it was a little suit or a little dress. And I thought – how did they do that
magic?”

This early exposure to the craft sparked a lifelong passion for fashion design. Unlike her peers,
she spent her childhood absorbed in the art of creating garments rather than engaging in typical
childhood activities. At school, she’d daydream about fashion and was once caught by her
Catholic school teacher, Sister Eleanor, sketching Miss America pageant dresses during class.
Dunn ventured into sewing independently when her mother was not home, using her mom's
electronic Singer sewing machine for her first project. Although her mother initially disapproved
of Dunn utilizing the machine in her absence, she was pleasantly surprised and impressed to
find out that her daughter had successfully learned to sew.

Her journey, however, was not without its challenges, and Dunn reflects, “I took the longest,
hardest road to get here.”

Leaving home at 16 due to personal difficulties, Dunn sought stability and skill development
through military service. She enlisted in the Army right after high school in 1989, serving in
military intelligence until 1992, and then continued in the reserves until 2000. Her time in the
Army, especially her posting in Germany, exposed her to various European fashion styles,
further fueling her aspirations in fashion.

As a single mother, she worked various jobs while nurturing her dream of starting a fashion
business. Her passion for sewing re-emerged, leading her to create bespoke wedding and prom
dresses.

Dunn’s military experience has played a crucial role in her entrepreneurial path. The discipline,
focus, and perseverance she developed in the Army became foundational in her business
endeavors. She says, “Outside of my creativity, my military experience has been one of the
most beneficial things for me.”

Within the military, she says, “You understand your mission. You understand your goal. You
have that drive and determination. You’re not going to quit; you’re not giving up. You’re focused,
and you’re doing it with excellence.”

Her partnership with FSC First was a turning point in her business journey. Through support
with loans and business guidance, Dunn expanded her operations beyond a home-based setup.
Using funding to purchase more equipment, her plans for the business include an initial line of
accessory handbags, followed by an expansion into scarves, belts, jewelry, hats, and potentially
resort wear. She says, “We were able to get a loan, and it was the best thing. It really was
everything that we needed.”

In the years following the initial loan, the growth of the business encountered unforeseen
delays. She dedicated a year to caring for her father during his terminal illness. Subsequently,
the outbreak of COVID-19 posed additional challenges, and this period was further marked by
the passing of her father. She is looking to transition into making accessories, focusing on a
single product that could be replicated on a larger scale.

“It took me a little while to get myself together, pray, meditate, and think about that sixth-grade
girl in Sister Eleanor's class sketching that dress. I knew I wanted to create a product she would
share with the world, but I hadn’t done it yet. So [doing it now] is big for me. I'm excited.”
Dunn has been preparing for the 2024 launch of her fashion accessory business. All products
will be manufactured in the United States, and she takes pride in creating the patterns and the
colors and creating the fashion in-house.

Her Panamanian heritage heavily influences Dunn’s designs, showcasing a blend of luxury and
accessibility. Her brand reflects vibrant, traditional Panamanian colors, balancing luxury and
accessibility, catering to the everyday working woman.

The debut collection features accessory handbags, which blend both functionality and style.
Items like a compact cross-body purse are designed to be both essential and enjoyable,
equipped with internal pockets for organizing essentials and allowing easy access to items like a
phone. Versatile in design, these bags can be styled for various occasions and will be available
in multiple patterns. After the initial launch, there will be more accessories for women, like
scarves, belts, jewelry, and hats, with a long-term vision to move into resort wear.

Emphasizing social responsibility, Dunn intends to provide employment opportunities to
veterans and previously incarcerated individuals. She suggests initiatives like startup loans and
business guidance to help veterans leverage their unique experiences into successful business
ventures.

FSC First looks forward to celebrating the official launch of Dunn’s fashion line in 2024! Her
transformation from a military veteran to a fashion entrepreneur is a personal success story and
an inspiration for veterans and aspiring business owners.

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