May Update: Designers in the News

via Brooklyn Magazine

via Brooklyn Magazine

Our designers have been up to some impressive things including fantastic press mentions. Check out where they’ve been featured:
1. We are the Market gets up close and personal with Ilana Kohn in their Neutral Ground series.
2. Kallio is featured on Cool Mom Pics for their adorable children’s outfits.
3. Anne Hathaway has some fun on the beach in an Illana Kohn’s jumpsuit.
4. Carrie Parry, Study NY and Suzanne Rae were featured in Brooklyn Magazine’s story on sustainable designers everyone should know.
5. Titania Inglis lands a striking editorial inside the April issue of Zink magazine.
6. Salt + Stone gets a spotlight in Lovely Bride for her fine jewelry.

Alumni Share the Benefits of Design Entrepreneurs NYC


Layla L’obatti, Nzinga Knight, Jes Wade, Ayaka Nishi

We’ve heard many success stories from designers coming out of the program over the past two years. Here are a few testimonials from our alumni on how Design Entrepreneurs NYC impacted their business:

“DENYC gave us the deadlines and framework to update our business plan to reflect our business’ growth and path going forward. It gave us access to some really great resources that allowed us to understand our customer and focus in on what we offered them and what we could improve.” – Layla L’obatti, Between the Sheets

“DENYC opened my eyes up to many things and I learned so much about business. I’m more confident about doing business and selling. I was uncomfortable with selling my own product, pitching to stores and doing trunk shows etc…and now I love it. I realized that selling is and interacting with customers is important. Doing events has become a part of my business and my marketing strategy. I also learn more about my collection, what people want and what I should design more of.” –Nzinga Knight

“I approach my design and my business from a hands-on and in-depth perspective. The lectures and mentoring at DENYC refined my working business plan and each year the network of professionals grows and provides new opportunities. My research and studies at DENYC gave me confidence to expand upon a vertical concept where every step of the business, from design to manufacturing and retail, occurs in the Jes Wade Atelier located in TriBeCa.” –Jes Wade

“After participating in the DENYC holiday pop-up shop, I saw that these events worked for my business so I started to seek out more of these opportunities.” –Ayaka Nishi

Learn more about the program at Design Entrepreneurs NYC. 

February Update: Design Entrepreneurs in the News


Chromat in Vogue

via Vogue

It’s just the beginning of 2014 and our alumni have been up to great things.  Here’s our roundup of designers in news:

1. Becca McCharren of Chromat was featured in Vogue for her fall/winter 2014 collection that made its debut at Made Fashion Week. She was also interviewed for the NYCEDC blog and talked about her DENYC experience.

2. Dominic Louis was featured in WWD for their fall/winter 2014 New York Fashion Week show. The review said, “The designer’s postapocalyptic aesthetic was infused with sophistication for fall.”

3. Mirame’s swimsuit lands in Westchester magazine just in time for spring.

4. Wild magazine reviewed the Titania Inglis fall/winter 2014 collection and described it as “coming together to create a cool equilibrium.”

5. Jacqueline Stone of Salt + Stone went on air to talk with BBox radio about dating, proposals and jewelry.


Visit Bestow: Our Holiday Pop-Up Shop in December

Bestow DENYC Holiday Pop-Up Shop

This holiday season, we’re throwing a pop-up shop to make gift giving fun and easy. 30 alumni from the program will be selling their designs which include everything from ready-to-wear, sleepwear, childrenswear, swimwear, accessories, fine jewelry, shoes, and lingerie starting Friday, December 6 – Sunday, 15th. Stop in to shop, meet our designers and enter to win a gift basket from our local designers!

10% of the proceeds goes to New York Cares and we will be collecting gently worn coats to benefit the organization’s annual drive.


Angela Gao / Astridland / Auralís / Ayaka Nishi / Bazz de Grant / Between The Sheets / Cala Ossidiana /Carrie Parry /Design Portfolio / G9C / Gianna / Kallio / Ken Wroy / Kordal / Kristi Vosbeck / Katarina Lankova /Leota /Love Is Mighty /Marcia Budet / Mirame / Nzinga Knight NY / Recollection / Salt + Stone / Sena / Soham Dave / Sunghee Bang/ Thaddeus Beals / Vespertine


  • Friday Dec. 6 from 5-9 PM
  • Sat/Sun Dec 7 – 8, from 11-8 PM
  • Weekday Evenings: Tue. Dec. 10 – Fri Dec. 13, from 5-9 PM
  • Sat/Sun Dec. 14 -15, from 11-8 PM

Learn more and see what we’re selling at our event page. 

Class of 2013 Design Entrepreneurs NYC Ends With Chromat and Ken Wroy Winning the Cash Prizes

Dr. Joyce F. Brown, Vasumathi Soundararajan, Becca McCharen, Jeanette Nostra

This summer, 37 New York-based fashion designers embarked on a fashion journey when they were selected to participate in Design Entrepreneurs NYC, a free “mini-mba” program that was developed by FIT and the NYCEDC and now in its second year.

Their curriculum was intensive and comprehensive. Designers were required to take three weekend seminar classes that focused on everything from marketing, operations and financials from industry professionals. Designer Richard Chai spoke to the group about his fashion track and the realities he faced in the business while growing his brand. They also had access to FIT resources and could take additional courses such as Excel for fashion designers, costing, social media and presentation tips.

The program paired each designer with a mentor to help them work through their business plan and support them along the way.

It culminated with a showcase and pitch night where 16 pre-seleceted designers had the opportunity to present their business plans to a panel of senior executives to get feedback and share their strategy for growth. The group was narrowed down to four brands including: Kai D, a Brooklyn-based menswear label and Kallio, a sustainable childrenswear company. At the end of the evening, Becca McCharen of Chromat, an architecturally inspired swimwear line which also creates caged pieces that have been worn by Beyonce, Nicki Minaj and Madonna was awarded with a check for $25,000, a contribution given by G-III Apparel Group.

Vasumathi Soundararajan, an FIT alumni and the Chief Underwearist of a menswear label called Ken Wroy, which is an anagram of New York received the second-place prize of $10,000 also from G-IIII.

For both women, Design Entrepreneurs NYC was their opportunity to put pen to paper and create a road map for their brand. Becca told us, “This was an amazing opportunity especially as a designer without a business background. The program shed light on so many things and gave me a chance to sit down and work on my plan.”
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to keep up with all the news.


Design Entrepreneurs NYC Spotlight: Vasumathi Soundararajan of Ken Wroy

Our design entrepreneur Vasumathi Soundararajan is ready to make her mark in the men’s underwear market. Read about her story, interesting fun fact and why she started Ken Wroy.

Can you tell us about your line?

Ken Wroy is a designer brand of men’s underwear. The underwear market is thriving like never before because more and more men have become fashion conscious and are into grooming. Women are bestowed with Victoria’s Secret, but men don’t have any Henry’s Secrets yet. Being inspired by NYC’s infectious energy, I set out to bring about a change in the perception of men’s underwear. After all, underwear is the first thing you wear and the last thing you take off, so give it the attention it deserves.

When did you start your line?

Early 2012.

Why did you start it?

I was simply bored with my husband’s underwear. Lol. As a designer, I like scrutinizing design elements that surrounds me. So it was hard and disappointing to see my husband in badly cut, loosely hanging underwear. He was practically wearing shorts inside his tailored pants. I didn’t want to change my life-partner, but I could definitely change his underwear wardrobe! This was a challenge I was keen to take up as a designer.

As I began to dwell into this subject, I heard many anecdotes of women sharing the same experience. Men can look charming wearing trendy clothes and classy suits. But when the clothes come off…Oh horror, it sometimes falls apart. I was always into prints and colors and underwear was a perfect product to unleash my creativity.

Can you give us three words to describe the brand?

Bold, Sleek and Sexy.

What’s your brand signature?

“Be fashioanable all the way.”

What your favorite piece in the collection?

My very first print called ‘Smoke’, inspired by Alexander Mc Queen.

Can you tell us about the new line? There are a lot of NYC-inspired pieces. Why did you shoot in Central Park?

Soaking in the fashion of NY, I am inspired by this dynamic city and the line was inspired by that feeling. As you guessed, the new line is called ‘New York Ness’ and just like the city, the line is electric and sexy. We shot in Central Park because no place is more iconic than that. Moreover, it was a great exposure, we had all the tourists taking photos with our underwear models.

Why did you apply to DENYC?

To connect with industry professionals and work with mentors. And to strengthen the discipline of my business with their help.

What do you hope to get out of the program?

The prize! That would be sweet. But apart from that, I have learnt a great deal about putting together a ‘solid plan’ for my business. It was a relief to pen all the numbers and ideas that were in my head and document it. The program has worked like a coach to streamline and navigate intelligibly towards my vision for Ken Wroy.

What’s the best part of being a NYC designer?

The city streets are a permanent runway.

Can you tell us a fun fact?

For our first launch party, we had 7 male models walk the ramp. At the after party, we had women jump to the stage to take photos and we got 900 photos taken in 3 hours of only women guests and the models.

Learn more about our design entrepreneur at Ken Wroy.  

Ten Tips for Show-Stopping Presentations

This week we’re including a guest post from Jonathan Vatner, a staff writer at Hue, FIT’s alumni magazine.

Design Entrepreneurs NYC (for new visitors to this blog, it’s a program for emerging designers created by FIT in partnership with the New York City Economic Development Corporation) focuses on developing an airtight business plan. Sooner or later, designers growing their business will probably have to present their plan or line to potential backers or buyers, so on August 27, DENYC arranged a workshop with Performance of a Lifetime, a consulting and training firm that teaches performance skills to business people.

“Everybody is afraid of public speaking,” said David Nackman, creative director of Performance of a Lifetime. “But we are our own worst critics. Nobody will know if you’re nervous or make little mistakes. No matter what happens, just go with it.” Before giving your next presentation, consider these tips from Nackman and his colleague Maureen Kelly.

1. Don’t “present.” Pretend you’re having a (one-sided) conversation with one person at a time. And walk toward that person; it will make you seem more calm and engaged.

2. Come up with an opening line that’s a little out of context, something interesting or provocative to inspire curiosity from the very beginning. For Jacqueline Stone, owner of Salt + Stone, Nackman recommended she start with her mission statement: “I want to make the world more beautiful, one piece of jewelry at a time.”

3. Choose someone you admire—maybe a celebrity, maybe a colleague—and use some of their mannerisms. It’s called creative imitation, and it helps you be “bigger” in the front of a room.

4. Avoid “hand-washing”—rubbing your hands together while you’re talking. If you don’t have something in your hands, rest one in the other at navel level.

5. It’s perfectly acceptable to stay in one spot. It’s also nice to pick three spots to walk between, during pauses in your talk. As a bonus, it can give you a moment to think when you have a brain freeze.

6. Don’t spell out every detail of your company’s history. Start with the poetic story of your company, then jump ahead with a transition like, “And today?”

7. Slow down. Give your words time to sink in. At the very least, put some “air” around your name and the name of your business. These are the most familiar things to you, and the most important things for your audience to hear clearly.

8. Let yourself take a breath here and there. Human beings don’t talk or think in one long sentence. As Kelly said, “You can end a sentence.”

9. When you feel an “um” coming, stop talking. “Ums” are the sound of gathering your thoughts. Better to do it without the noise.

10. Learn the facts about your business until they come out of your mouth without having to think. Then turn yourself over to the audience, respond to their cues, and give them the feeling that you’re creating something for them.

Design Entrepreneurs NYC Spotlight: Astrid Brucker of Astridland

Can you tell us about your line?

Astridland is a contemporary women’s apparel brand that strives to dress the modern woman with flair, providing innovative, original but subtle pieces that are minimal yet bold. Our collections transcend seasons and can be worn day to night and year after year.

When did you start it?

We launched Astridland in 2008 when we did a Supima fashion show at Gotham Hall.

Why did you start it?

We worked in the fashion industry and designed costumes for movies. When Astrid needed a dress for a movie premiere she created her own and then added tops, tunics, and jackets to round out the collection.

Can you give us three words to describe the brand?

Minimal, bold, timeless

What’s your brand signature?

Our Denim Goddess gown has been widely featured and gets a lot of attention but our Issa top is our best seller!

What your favorite piece in the collection?

The Isis dress.  It’s loose, yet has a defining shape and it’s affordable and comfortable.

Why did you apply to DENYC?

We started a business plan but never completed one and needed guidance on how to grow the business.

What do you get out of the program?

We learned how to better structure the company, and understand how to implement changes in regards to marketing, finances, sales and public relations.

What’s the best part of being a NYC designer?

Astridland is made in NYC because we have access to so many resources here; skilled craftspeople, a great assortment of suppliers and the best trade shows.

Can you tell us a fun fact?

Astrid Brucker loves classical ballet and enjoys taking classes. While moving through each position, she often thinks of fluid silhouettes that accentuate the body. Ballet and fashion design have a common theme: it’s all about the line.

Learn more about the brand at Astridland.

Design Entrepreneurs NYC Spotlight: Marcia Budet

Our design entrepreneur Marcia Budet has an interesting story to tell on how she started her business. Her inspirational story proves that so much can happen in just a year.  And, like our other spotlights, you’ll get to read her fun fact.

Can you tell us about your line?

It is an international award winning line offering creative and innovative fine jewelry, directly influenced by our architectural training. Our collections are made in 18k gold and/or sterling silver with precious and semi precious stones and we also do custom work. We redefine effortless elegance and our work inspires women to embrace sophistication with an edge.

When did you start your line?


Why did you start it?

It was almost a happy accident. I was looking to buy a double ring for myself, but could not find one I really liked, so I decided to design it myself. A colleague saw the piece, sent me a link to an international design competition in Italy and encouraged me to submit my design. I did – and a year later I was at the Gala in Lake Como receiving a Golden Award for it. After that, clients started approaching me and I recognized it to be a business opportunity worth exploring.

What’s your brand signature?

Sophisticated boldness

Can you give us three words to describe the brand?

Elegant, bold and architectural

Favorite piece of your collection?

Asymmetrics + Diamonds, which is the first piece I designed and won an award in Italy.

Why did you apply to DENYC?

Because I knew I would greatly benefit from it. Learning from fellow designers and the training offered have surpassed my expectations.

What do you hope to get out of the program?

New friends, new skills and lots of fun.

Best part of being a NYC designer?

Access to a great variety of suppliers and raw material, great networking, and inspiration overload.

Can you give us a fun fact?

I am a huge, huge sports fan.

Design Entrepreneurs NYC Spotlight: Ayaka Nishi

Our design entrepreneur Ayaka Nishi gives us the inside scoop on her brand, being in the program and a fun fact about her business.

Ayaka Nishi

Can you tell us about your line?

Ayaka Nishi New York is a jewelry brand that is inspired by nature and natural materials. Each unique item is created and handcrafted at Ayaka Nishi’s studio. We work with silver, gold, brass, diamond, natural coral, lava beads and leather. Our jewelry is know for it’s textural details and art aesthetic.

Ayaka Nishi Fish Collection

Ayaka Nishi

When did you start it?

I launched my jewelry brand in 2009.

Why did you start it?

After I received my art history degree in Tokyo, Japan, I worked as a graphic and web designer for five years. After working in the digital design field, I became interested in creating something more personal and tangible. My mother is an Ikebana (Japanese Floral Arrangement) artist and my father worked in the medical field, so my childhood environment fueled my interest in nature and human anatomy. I moved to New York eight years ago to study Jewelry Design at F.I.T. After I graduated, I worked for two CFDA award winning jewelry designers, Philip Crangi and Subversive Jewelry. Then I was truly inspired to create my own brand.

Can you give us three words to describe the brand?

Elegant, Artistic, Noir

What’s your brand signature?

The Bone collection and Spine bracelet.

Whats your favorite piece in your collection?

The Cell cuff

 Why did you apply to DENYC?

I learned design in school, but I haven’t had the opportunity to study business, which is crucial to being successful!

What do you hope to get out of the program?

Business knowledge from the instructors and the opportunity to connect with other talented designers who are serious about making it in the fashion business.

What’s the best part of being a NYC designer?

Sometimes unexpected opportunities arise, like the DENYC program!

Can you tells us a fun fact?

An osteopathic physician became interested in my Bone collection and asked me which bone in my body was used for casting!

Learn more about our design entrepreneur at Ayaka Nishi.