Audra Danielle Noyes: 5 Things You Need To Create a Highly Successful Career In The Fashion Industry

Authority Magazine Editorial Staff
Authority Magazine
Published in
11 min readFeb 14, 2022


Grace — Show yourself and others grace through your business journey. The industry is wide and far-reaching, but the community is small. Grace goes a long way, including and most importantly for yourself.

As part of our series about the 5 things you need to succeed in the fashion industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Audra Danielle Noyes.

Audra Danielle Noyes is a creative, entrepreneur, and fashion designer quickly gaining global recognition. Noyes personally trained under top names in luxury fashion from New York City to Paris, including Alber Elbaz at LANVIN. With a wealth of design and development experience and established industry relationships, Noyes launched her namesake brand, AUDRA, during Paris Fashion Week in 2014. Fueled by the memory of her father, Noyes draws inspiration from men’s tailored clothing and infuses in her own feminine voice, a conversation between a father and daughter. In 2020, AUDRA pivoted from wholesale partners, having sold in 15+ retailers across the country (notably Stanley Korshak and Neiman Marcus) into its DTC and eCommerce business — sold through the brand’s bricks-and-mortar Atelier, online at, private clients, and trunk shows.

Since AUDRA’s launch, Noyes has led the operations and development; producing seventeen collections and gaining global validation and distribution. Noyes’ distinct point of view and unique skill set has set her apart in the industry and has been recognized in industry-leading publications for her business and design acumen including being named ‘One to Watch’ by “Women’s Wear Daily” and Forbes’s “Bad Girl” Fashion and Beauty Entrepreneur. She is also a vital member of her local and industry-wide community, serving on the WCHOF Young Professional Board and actively involved in various community and arts education programs.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Pursuing a career in fashion and eventually launching my own company was a gradual progression. I entered Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) with the initial intention to pursue art therapy. My freshman year I had an internship with Ralph Lauren childrenswear, which was one of the signals to me that I wanted to work in fashion. Three years later, I was selected for a mentorship with Zac Posen, which ultimately led me to meeting André Leon Talley, followed by him personally recommending me to train under Alber Elbaz at Lanvin. Through my Parisian training at Lanvin and Galliano, I developed the unique skill set I have today and in tangency began to define what I wanted to say about women through my designs.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started?

When I launched AUDRA I was operating and led by a very traditional wholesale fashion business — seasonal drops of collections, wholesale stockists, lots of inventory, and a large marketing focus on social media and industry press.

In 2017, I began to establish a large direct-to-consumer (DTC) business that was growing year over year through private clients, trunk shows, and our website. This was happening in tangency as I was completing the FIT Design Entrepreneurship program. My mentor kept asking me “What sets you apart? Why is the AUDRA product different?” — and every time I would go back to him with a response he would rip apart and challenge me once again to dig deeper. There were many frustrating nights, but it took someone who cared to see through my attempts at “marketing fluff” and force me to break down what I was designing and for whom. It allowed me to effectively communicate directly to my market and eliminate the middle man (wholesaler).

In 2019 I made the decision to shift to a fully DTC business, with monthly product drops, prioritizing and emphasizing customer relationship building. This pivot allowed me and my lean team to focus our efforts on scaling our online and trunk show business and freed up cash flow from previously being locked into unnecessary inventory. With wholesale, we had received brand validation, national distribution, and feedback, leaving AUDRA well prepared to pivot to a DTC business model. Thus, allowing us to focus our efforts and budget on scaling our online and brick-and-mortar business.

Now, AUDRA is currently sold direct-to-consumer through the brand’s bricks-and-mortar Atelier, online at, private clients, and trunk shows.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Hard to just pick one! I have learned through the past eight years to show myself grace through mistakes. What reflects a strong startup leader is quickly learning from these mistakes, taking corrective action and accountability, and moving on.

One that stands out is when I invited my teammates in Paris to move into a small apartment with me, which was also our office! Each was in a challenging situation and I wanted to help, but ultimately this led to personal boundaries being crossed and damaging our professional relationships. The takeaway: careful to mix business and personal — especially so intimately. Inevitably in my client relationships, I build close friendships, and in these dynamics also respect the boundaries we all need.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

As a fashion brand, a large part of what makes AUDRA unique is the design aesthetic. My Parisian training at Lanvin and Galliano was instrumental in my tailoring and design skillset and in tangency, defining what I wanted to say about women through my designs. This unique point of view and expertise is complemented by a marketing and sales strategy rooted in relationship building with our customers; through a deep understanding of what they need in clothing and how they live their lives.

AUDRA is a self-funded, bootstrapped business. Our product is sitting in closets alongside the likes of Cuccinelli, Akris, and Christian Dior (large luxury brands). I know — and knew when I launched — in order to be a competitive player in this market, AUDRA has to do things differently, as our budget and team capacity aren’t even close to some of our competitors. I have to ensure that we’re outperforming our competitors with a combination of offering, quality, and competitive price points.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

In fashion, we’re constantly focused on the next season to come. Looking ahead all the time. As a creative and a business owner, juggling running the day-to-day while serving customers and clients with the bigger picture, creative planning, design, and production can easily swallow you up. It’s important to me to be present as much as possible. This includes my personal life, as well. Prioritizing my work while doing the things I love most, like riding a bike on the weekends, going to church, volunteering. Taking this time for myself away from my work enables me to recharge and approach my creativity, in particular, with an open, unprohibited mindset.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

It’s very important to me to give back to my community. Since moving to St. Louis in 2017, I have continued to volunteer and participate in community organizations and institutions. My late grandmother, who was also my business accountant, instilled in me the value of giving back to others. I’ve been fortunate to have strong female family members, my mom and sister included, mentors during my time at SCAD, creatives teaching and training me in Paris, to inspiring female clients who all continue to set a path towards giving back to the community that of which what community has given to me.

As a transplant to St. Louis, I have formed an incredible community through other female creatives and entrepreneurs, church, and getting involved in local organizations. I currently serve on the Young Professionals Board of the World Chess Hall of Fame (also contribute to their exhibitions) and Connections to Success/Dress for Success Midwest. I’m also a 2019 Arch Grant Recipient, which continues to create opportunities for entrepreneurs and experts to connect across industries and specialties. Additionally, I have mentored students at Lift for Life Academy, made classroom visits, and reviewed students’ design projects within the fashion department.

Every woman needs and deserves the right clothing to enter the workforce and feel her best self. In 2021, I launched a partnership with Connections to Success and Dress for Success Midwest by providing shirting for their female clientele as well as networking, making connections between the DFSM community and the AUDRA community, and offering/hosting a speaking series as a part of professional, social and personal development. This partnership is an extraordinary expression and contribution of giving back to my community through the power of fashion and relationships and I’m grateful to be able to continue to help women feel amazing and feel connected.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Don’t compare yourself to what you don’t know” —

It is so easy to compare to your fellow entrepreneurs or other fashion businesses. Especially in a world of smoke and mirrors, façade over substance. I remember early on in my business spending hours on Instagram scrolling through to be exposed to the successes of my peers and feeling like a failure because I didn’t have as many followers or have the same celebrity placements. Years have passed and many of those businesses have closed. I was judging my own success based on the benchmarks of others, ones that I didn’t even truly know or understand what was going on behind the scenes. Now, I clearly define goals for the business and run my own race. I track AUDRA’s success based on our business benchmarks — informed on greater industry data points and cultural trends.

Do you see any fascinating developments emerging over the next few years in the fashion industry that you are excited about? Can you tell us about that?

Industry standards are constantly moving us all towards the focus of digital. We’ve seen tremendous growth in digital and eComm, industry-wide, as a result of the pandemic. This is an upward trend, understandably, but I think that it’s important to note that relationships are at the core of a successful business, especially in the luxury apparel space. Focusing more on existing customer and clientele relationships, building a great community around the brand, and ultimately being there to provide delight, joy, and a vessel for creative expression is something that needs to continue to stay at the forefront of the industry. Digital only makes this more emphasized, given that we can all connect with one another more quickly and directly.

Sustainability is becoming more prominent in the conversation of fashion and its future. Clothing that is thoughtfully made, with transparency into the supply chain and manufacturing, who and where it’s being made, and of what quality. This has been a pillar of AUDRA since the beginning. We have already been producing our clothing in limited runs, of the most exquisite textiles sourced from family-owned factories in Europe and Japan, and is made by women-owned factories in New York City paying female sewers and experts a liveable wage to create the dresses, blouses, suits, shirting, and more that our customers wear for all aspects of their lives.

Thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Top 5 Things Needed to Succeed in the Fashion Industry”. Please share a story or example for each.

Creativity — Bringing creativity to the product and process, learning to define and distill that creativity. Making space to engage the creativity at its greatest potential.

Grit — I was told once by a mentor that building a stable and self-sustaining brand will take 10+ years. It is a long race and takes consistent persistence paired with passion.

Perspective — This is crucial — I wear many hats so it’s so easy to get caught in the weeds of every day and amidst micro-level goals. Keeping a perspective on how you define success, on why you started, is crucial to keeping the business growing year over year.

Grace — Show yourself and others grace through your business journey. The industry is wide and far-reaching, but the community is small. Grace goes a long way, including and most importantly for yourself.

Humility — Be quick to ask for help and find experts in areas you are not!

Every industry constantly evolves and seeks improvement. How do you think the fashion industry can improve itself? Can you give an example?

Overproduction is top of my mind. In the recent years of fast fashion and overconsumption, how do we educate a customer to value quality over quantity? Do consumers really care where and how clothing is made? And what happens to it when it is thrown away?

The outcomes of this conversation around a “sustainable” fashion business trickle down to manufacturing. Sustainability in our supply chain covers everything from the textiles, how they’re made, who makes them, into each step of the manufacturing and producing process.

AUDRA stands out amongst other luxury fashion brands because we are committed to consciously creating each garment. What this means is that we produce limited runs of clothing to mitigate the amount of waste and reduce excess inventory. Our garments are designed for a distinctive woman who values quality as much as dressing in timeless styles. The AUDRA silhouettes are modern pieces that transcend women of all ages and will stick with you in your wardrobe forever. They’re not trend-heavy nor are they designed without the consideration of an AUDRA woman.

Knowing where and who makes clothing is critical to the survival of the industry and even more critical to humanity. Fashion is one of the largest industries in the world which means that we collectively employ a large subset of the population. Paying a fair, liveable wage to artisans and craftsmen benefits everyone. AUDRA is making a contribution to the American manufacturing community by partnering with majority female-owned and female-run factories in New York City. We invest and make choices to produce in America because we’re an American company and invest in preserving skillsets of American artisans; patternmakers, sewers, embroiderers, technical designers, the list goes on.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I firsthand experienced art as an emotional release and therapy during high school when I lost my father. Through my brand and my designs, I’ve actually been able to heal and know my dad in ways I never thought I would. I’ve cut apart his shirts to form new silhouettes that represented us woven together, I’ve created fabrics that embodied my grandmother’s character or literal scars on her hands. And clothing with rounded shoulders and oversized as I overcame shame and guilt.

I’d love to empower other young creatives to experience that. Have art therapy and fashion merge so people can create clothing that expresses who they are in that time. To be creative as they heal or are in their journey through life. To help them discover themselves more, find answers and modalities of self-exploration through the practices of art therapy.

There is such power in having a piece of clothing that you feel your best self in or that represents who you are. And the tactile process of conceptualizing, creating, draping, cutting and sewing is one that is so therapeutic. Whether you end with a finished item or not, the process is the most important part of this creativity therapeutic exercise.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

We’re active with our community on Instagram @audra and on Facebook @audraofficial. We also engage our community via email on a weekly basis, including new product releases, customer features, and styling ideas for the dynamic woman — subscribe via our website

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!