Fashion. Furnishings. Family. Female Empowerment.
Deanna Hodges shows us that women can do it all.
Deanna Hodges was never going to settle with the narrative that ‘it’s a man’s world.’ A fashion and home furnishings high-flyer, Deanna – based in sunny California – is disrupting the male-dominated space of construction. Unafraid to tackle the problems that others shy away from, Deanna is the founder of Hodges International, H2 Home Collection and Hodges Collection – as well as a celebrated author, public speaker, fashion executive and business advisor. In this editorial, we deep dive into her life, living and breathing the textiles industry alongside her.
Committed to bringing manufacturing and employment back to the USA, when others see a pointless project, she sees opportunity – and Deanna goes for it, making it a roaring success. She uses her analytical mind, inquisitive research skills, and can-do attitude across her multiple projects. Some may call it the Midas touch – Deanna just calls it 30 years worth of business experience and a future-focused mindset.
This is exactly what happened when Deanna came upon a derelict, abandoned, textile mill. 147,000 square feet of ruin, but entrepreneurial Deanna could see the opportunity that lay within – and 18 months later, had transformed it into a powerhouse of cut-and-sew manufacturing, towel weaving, circular knitting, and embroidery. The regenerated building will also be manufacturing uniforms, safety gear, and other items for large US retailers, named brands, as well as the US Government, and manufacturing and shipping pre-cut items.
Like a diamond in the rough, Deanna purchased the dilapidated building at the end of 2020, Once called the Duplan Mill, Deanna renamed it the Sparty Mill, after her loving and faithful canine companion. Not only did she save the historic building and bring textile manufacturing back to Lincolnton, but Deanna created employment opportunities for over 100 local people. On August 18th, the doors to the revitalized mill were opened once again, meaning a new lease of life for the old building, which has since been added to the National Register of Historic Places.
It’s about time manufacturing was brought into the 21st century, and Deanna is determined to ensure that the cut-throat world of business has an open invitation to women.
Breathing new life into North Carolina
North Carolina has been crying out for its textile industry to be revitalized. Deanna spent months intensely researching different states and the opportunities within each one for manufacturing, eventually settling in The Old North State. Alongside Deanna’s investments, North Carolina is currently experiencing a business boom, with a substantial $285 million dollars worth of investments into the business economy pouring in. Deanna’s factory opening is just one of the many manufacturing expansions hitting North Carolina, bringing much-needed employment – over 1400 new roles – to boost the economy. In fact, since 2019, 228 new factories have opened in North Carolina, proving manufacturing can thrive when brought back to the United States. Choosing this state isn’t the easy option – Deanna readily admits that LA would have much more purchasing options – but reviving North Carolina is the right option. “When I first saw this building, it was really scary,” she said. “But I loved it. It’s beautiful. And people told me I was out of my mind.”
Although Deanna’s business brain belongs to North Carolina, her heart lies in sweet Southern California. With its smorgasbord of good food and miles of rolling beaches, Deanna says “I feel so blessed to live in a place that many people dream of and vacation in. I feel like I live in paradise.”
Doing life like Deanna
Deanna Hodges is a multifaceted entrepreneur. Never content simply monopolizing the world of business, Deanna is committed to supporting her local area in many charitable endeavors. A keen philanthropist, Deanna has shown compassion and financial support to many local charities. She is a passionate advocate for mistreated farm animals, donating to rescues that give the overworked animals a new lease of life.
In addition, Deanna supports the Los Angeles Mission, which aims to break the vicious cycle of homelessness and poverty in Los Angeles. Another passion project of Deanna’s is the charity Working Wardrobes, which combines her love of fashion with her knowledgeable business acumen and her desire to support the local community. Working Wardrobes supports vulnerable people in need of work readiness skills, such as creating a resume, polishing interview skills, and navigating job applications.
Deanna also has her own endeavors – her Fair Trade and Women’s Empowerment Initiatives. These charitable enterprises support over 650 single women and single mothers in the Andes mountains to gain employment in the textiles industry, showing Deanna’s passion for female empowerment across the globe.
Making the world a better place – one design at a time
“I love being able to design, create and produce beautiful items that can turn the homes of our customers into their private sanctuary or peaceful oasis. The fact that we can help so many women in the process is above all that I could have ever hoped for.”
Over 30 years ago, Deanna Hodges was a fresh-faced textiles worker from a small town in the South, dipping her toes into every aspect of the textiles trade. Working from the age of 17 in a range of different factories and a variety of roles, Deanna got a true feel for what the textiles industry was missing – women. When reflecting on the lack of representation 30 years ago, Deanna states: “There actually were no female mentors or role models that I knew of or that I could find.”
Starting up her first textiles company in 2005, Deanna has taken the textiles world by storm ever since. The path to textile domination has not always been easy, no matter how simple Deanna makes it look. Alongside family demands and a social life, Deanna has to juggle production issues, sales hiccups, keeping up with ever-changing technology … oh, and a global pandemic. When reflecting on the impact that COVID-19 had on her business, Deanna acknowledges, “We just couldn’t get the samples, and I told myself that this is never going to happen to me again.” And thus her determination began to bring manufacturing back to the United States.
The visionary admits that being a female entrepreneur is “all-consuming”, but despite burning the candle at both ends, Deanna reiterates: “This is my passion and I will endure whatever it takes to make the world a more beautiful and more equitable place, one pillow and blanket and one woman at a time!”
Deanna’s home textiles collection is stocked in over 600 retailers, showing the demand for high-quality, sustainable textiles which improve the livelihood of female workers in South America. Many of these women have been victims of violence and poverty, and they are able to use Deanna’s employment initiative to provide a vital income to gain independence and support their families.
But don’t just take it from us – one of Deanna’s beloved employees, Brenda Colvard, calls Deanna “The best boss I’ve ever had. She cares about her employees, and she’s just wonderful.” And there lies the secret recipe to Deanna’s success – a genuine, heartfelt connection with her workers, whether they live in North Carolina or the Andes Mountains.
A final message from our female titan of textiles?
“I want all women to have a voice – a loud and hopeful voice and the ability to provide for themselves and their families, without compromising their values or their bodies in order to do it. Our hope is that women will rise up to a point where no one can hold them down ever again and that is why we do what we do.”
This is Deanna Hodges’ empire – we are all just living in it.
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