On Thursday, October 26, FIT Design Entrepreneurs Collaborative was formally opened at 520 Eighth Avenue at 36th Street. The 5,400-square-foot space was built to provide nine private and locked rooms that each house one design company, along with a large open room.
While the facility is not a traditional showroom, the space is configured so that designers can showcase their merchandise and meet with the buyers they seek. In addition to the private rooms, the open space can accommodate from two to ten designers for mini-marts during market weeks. It can also accommodate other events, from workshops to photo shoots.
The launch event was attended by Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer; FIT Board of Trustees Trustee Emeritus John Pomerantz; Doneger Group President and CEO and FIT Foundation board member Abbey Doneger; FIT President Joyce F. Brown; Chairman and CEO of G-III Apparel Group and FIT Foundation board member Morris Goldfarb; and the designers who are tenants. Two of the resident designers—Noah Waxman, founder of Noah Waxman Shoes, and Amanda Campbell, founder of Slight Jewelry—spoke about how the collaborative has helped their businesses. Also in attendance were alumni of the Design Entrepreneurs NYC (DENYC) program, which began in 2012 as a partnership between the New York City Economic Development Corporation and FIT to advance emerging fashion design entrepreneurs’ business skills and provide to provide the designers access to industry professionals. Through this process, 155 design companies developed strategic plans—in consultation with industry mentors—to accelerate the growth of their businesses. The program, now named FIT Design Entrepreneurs, will start mid-January 2018.
“Over time, we have learned that no matter how successful our designers are, many of them, if not most, work out of their apartments and still need affordable, appropriately located spaces to conduct meetings with buyers and retailers,” said Dr. Brown. “This collaborative answers that need. We have made these nine spaces available exclusively to FIT alumni and to Design Entrepreneurs graduates, whom we think of as FIT alumni as well.”