For those looking to build their brand in 2018, there are equal part challenges and opportunities. What’s clear is that design entrepreneurs need outside support to further their ventures. Since 2012, the Fashion Institute of Technology has been helping small businesses do this.
Through their mini-MBA program for emerging fashion designers called FIT Design Entrepreneurs, the university has helped fuel the careers of over 150 designers through their annual program that gives participants the chance to win $100,000 and $50,000.
In 2018, they expanded the program to companies outside of New York and accepted both US-based and global companies to participate. Participants can also be alumni of other colleges and universities.
Over the course of six years, the foundation of the program has always been business building. Their focused curriculum allows brands to take a step back and evaluate their company to-date and provides them with the key topics they need to thrive in the marketplace. Designers go through intensive classes on branding and marketing, operations and financials. They are also paired with a mentor, have access to free FIT classes and programming.
Beyond business skills, the designers feel a sense of community and collaboration. Kris Harring, a designer from the 2018 class told us, “I’m very grateful for the opportunity to be apart of the FIT Design Entrepreneurs Program. It was invaluable experience as a new brand to be surrounded and supported by other designers who have been in my shoes. The instructors, the courses we covered from finance to marketing, production and sales, having access to FIT resources and coming out of it all with a solid business plan and feedback from industry experts has given me the opportunity to get ahead of certain things in business while I’m still new so that I have a better chance at success.”
It’s also clear that the program has helped designers with the proper tools they need to grow a business; a foundation that many fashion designers don’t because they are trying to launch to juggle every aspect of the business without having the time to reflect.
Louisa C. Rechter and Alessandra Perez-Rubio, co-founders of Mestiza New York shared how the program set a roadmap for their company even while they didn’t have experience of creating a plan.
We were overjoyed to have been part of the FIT Design Entrepreneurs program! FIT took us under their wing, even though we were not alumni nor from New York. We didn’t have any experience with producing a business plan and FIT prepared us and helped us focus. We ended up making it as a top four finalist in the program and we used the same plan to raise our first successful friends and family round! Since FIT, we’ve launched into some of the most prestigious retailers, grown our online sales and have improved our business operations.
In addition to the community and education, the cash prizes paired with a business plan have strategically helped winners see a return. Co-founders Lily Chen and Maggie Bacon of Thistle & Spire a lingerie company that split the winning prize in 2018 told us, “as entrepreneurs, we literally live and breathe our brand everyday. We never stop thinking about it. The FITDE program allowed us to take our dreams and expand them even further with their incredible mini-MBA, cash prize (which helped us achieve the highest sales quarter ever), and a network of like-minded entrepreneurs, all hustling for their dreams.”
This is a sponsored post.
The application to apply to the 2019 class is open now until October 31, 2018. Learn more and apply at FIT Design Entrepreneurs.
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