October 31 is the deadline for designers with their own labels to apply to FIT Design Entrepreneurs (FITDE), a free, intensive “mini-MBA” program at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Twenty-five designers — who have been in business for at least one year — will be accepted into the program, and two of those will receive $100,000 and $50,000, respectively, for the business plans they develop, and will continue to be mentored by the industry executives who participate in the program. FITDE gives designers access to top industry executives, guidance to develop a formal business plan, and the skills they need to successfully run and expand their fashion labels.
FITDE is a program for emerging designers entering its sixth year. The program was established in 2011 through a partnership between FIT and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), and, for the program’s first five years, FIT partnered with NYCEDC. As planned, that effort is transitioning into FIT Design Entrepreneurs. Fashion industry giant G-III Apparel Group is continuing its strong support as lead sponsor, and Lord & Taylor will be creating an in-store pop-up shop for the first time.
Emerging designers in women’s wear, menswear, children’s wear, intimate apparel, accessories, and jewelry are eligible. Each year, the designers accepted into the program are immersed in weekend learning intensives focused on marketing, financials, and operations taught by FIT instructors and industry experts. Each designer is also paired with a dedicated mentor to help them complete their business plan. All participants have access to FIT classes, resources, industry contacts, and events. The program culminates with a pitch event at which 12 designers compete for a cash prize to be used to execute their business plan.
The application form and additional information are available online at FIT Design Entrepreneurs.
The program kicks off on January 11, 2018.