Although she originally intended to become a painter, Art Institute of Chicago student Cynthia Rowley decided to switch paths after a chance encounter with a local department store buyer. Post-graduation, the aspiring designer relocated to New York City and set about channeling her artistic background into a colorful clothing line filled with punchy printed dresses, tailored trousers, and ruffled blouses. Thanks to a $3,000 starter fund from her grandmother, Cynthia Rowling clothing officially launched in 1988. In subsequent decades, that initial collection has grown to include everything from Cynthia Rowley home goods and accessories, to beauty products.
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