Whether it’s her customers, franchise owners, women in need or her own children, Dana Spinola is all about inspiring others to live in ways they don’t think are possible—to go far beyond the limitations they may perceive.
Spinola’s own life is her greatest inspirational tool. After all, she formed her incredibly successful, one-of-a-kind company, fab’rik, the same day she began her family: August 1, 2001.
“The night I got incorporated, I went out to celebrate and saw this man and was sure he was my husband,” she remembers. “I walked across the room and told him, ‘I know this is going to sound crazy, but I’m going to marry you.’ Pretty productive day: Started my dream career and met my husband!”
“Productive” is a bit of an understatement when describing Spinola’s no-holds-barred lifestyle.
Since that fateful day one of both her courtship of her future husband and founding of her company, the wildly popular fab’rik series of affordable upscale clothing boutiques, her business empire has grown exponentially and her family has expanded to include four children, ranging in age from two to nine. For good measure, she’s even added to the mix a nonprofit that comes to the aid of victimized women and girls. She attributes her success to the focus, drive and organization she says is essential to getting it all done.
“As a mom of four kids, I can get more done in an hour than I used to get done in a day—my to-do list is what some call a work of art,” Spinola says. “But it really just means I like to be prepared. There is no way I could run a company, a nonprofit and have four kids if I wasn’t always thinking ahead and anticipating what needs may come up. I get up early and prepare for my kids’ day before they are up and I stay up late preparing for my fab’rik meetings.”
Spinola never questioned that she could one day create the life of her dreams. Growing up, Spinola’s parents taught her to reach beyond their means to achieve everything she wanted. Her mother made custom outfits for her, introducing her to fashion as a way to elevate everyday life.
“My mom made my clothes, so we would spend weekends at fabric stores picking out patterns and fabrics,” she remembers. “While it was because we didn’t have a lot of money, I felt like I had a personal stylist and loved every minute of it. I remember my mom with a pin in her mouth pinning together the fabric on me and feeling like I was a celebrity. I was in love from the first dress.”
That first love quickly grew into a full-blown passion that continued throughout Spinola’s youth and into adulthood. “Fashion has always been second nature to me. While I have never been a girly girl, I have always had this deep-rooted love for high fashion,” she says. “My entire room was wallpapered head to toe with fashion magazines growing up.”
Right out of college, Spinola entered the corporate world as a business consultant who helped companies streamline for maximum productivity and efficiency. But after a couple of years, she realized it was time to adjust her focus and redirect her path. She wanted a partner and a family, and something was going to have to give for her to get there.
“I wanted a husband, lots of kids, to stop traveling every week and, somehow, an incredible career doing what I loved—which was the fashion world. I wasn’t sure how I was going to have it all, but I was going to try,” she says.
Spinola’s dreams were big, but at that time she had no idea just how big they would get. She opened the first fab’rik boutique on August 1, 2002, in Midtown Atlanta on West Peachtree (that store has since moved to Atlantic Station). That was monumental to her at the time, but since then she has watched many other women realize big dreams with their own fab’rik stores. The 45th fab’rik boutique just opened in Chicago.
“I never set out to franchise, but as women asked me to open fab’rik in their cities, it became clear that owning a boutique was not only my dream, but [was shared by] many others. Now that we have figured out the model, I can equip other women to do their own and follow their own dreams.”
That central vision of making the seemingly out-of-reach attainable flows into and defines the customer experience at fab’rik as well.
“I believe fab’rik delivers an amazing combination of high-end customer service with affordable clothing,” Spinola explains. “I think many would expect to have someone drive a dress to their house, serve them champagne or call their husband to remind them of their birthday at a high-end department store when spending $2,000, but we do this for a $60 dress. Our team has heart and cares more about the person than the sale. Wowing the customer is what inspires us!”
That heart and caring goes beyond fab’rik’s customers to women who need a helping hand and a new start in life. Her nonprofit, free fab’rik, facilitates weekly visits to safe houses and spends time with girls and women who have been the victims of sex trafficking, homelessness and abuse. The team shops with them, organizes fashion shows for them and shares stories with them.
“Giving and our business strategy are so closely woven together at this point they go hand and hand,” Spinola says. “fab’rik really is the vehicle that God has given me to serve, whether it’s our customers, my team and the girls in need. God always shows up in the sweetest way, reminding us all how similar we are. We truly all just want to feel beautiful about who we are. My vision is that each city that has a fab’rik boutique will also have the free fab’rik program. It’s an awesome thing when you watch a community come around a group of girls and lift them up like free fab’rik does.”
Spinola adds that the program also makes it possible for women who want to give back, but don’t think they have the time or the means to do it in a meaningful way. “It’s a beautiful way to serve and free fab’rik makes it very easy—the magic to it for me is that it’s really easy to do. It’s a beautiful, safe way to be there for these women.”
At the center of Spinola’s extremely full life is focusing on helping others do what she considers herself fortunate to be able to do each day: live her passion and her purpose.
“I hope I inspire women to dig deep to figure out what makes your heart beat, because that is your passion and what breaks your heart, because that is your purpose—then follow it relentlessly.”
Photography by Catrina Maxwell of CatMax Photography, Hair and Makeup by The Green Room Agency