Alumni Share the Benefits of Design Entrepreneurs NYC

DENYC-Testimonial

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.

 

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.”
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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.  

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?

2010

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. 

Design Entrepreneurs NYC Spotlight: Alexa Galler of Eighteenth

Alexa Galler’s line Eighteenth started as t-shirts. 6 to be exact. Over time, it’s evolved into a full ready-to-wear line. Her pieces re-imagine basics and she’s keen on changing the shape and details of classic garments. You’ll see this through construction details in her dreamy sweaters, tops and outerwear.

So why Design Entrepreneurs NYC? She told us, “I want to learn how to approach my line more like a business than as an art project.” And, she said that the the best part of being a NYC designer is that everyone in this business is a character.

Learn more about Alexa at Eighteenth. 

Design Entrepreneurs in the News: Kallio, Stevie Mac, Chromat, Elizabeth Kosich New York and Love is Mighty

Our design entrepreneurs have been featured on covers, Oprah, and gotten approval from the hottest fashion magazines out there. Here are five brands that have been in the news:

Elizabeth Kosich Cover Photo

Elizabeth Kosich in Dallas Cowboys Star

Elizabeth Kosich New York makes the cover of the Dallas Cowboys Star for their swimsuit issue.

Stevie Mac

Oprah wears Stevie Mac

Stevie Mac is on a roll! Oprah has worn his dresses several times this year and she looks fantastic in this one.

Nylon Features Chromat

Chromat featured in Nylon

Another great press feature for Becca McCharen of Chromat for her show at Miami Fashion Week.

Kallio featured in Vogue Bambini

 Kallio makes Vogue Bambini with their adorable children’s pieces.

Love is Mighty featured on Layne Randolph blog

Monisha Raja of Love is Mighty is featured on Layne Randolph’s blog discussing fashion and the law.

Design Entrepreneur Spotlight: Jacqueline Stone of Salt + Stone

Our latest interview is with design entrepreneur Jacqueline Stone of Salt + Stone. Learn more about her company, why she likes being a New York-based designer and check out her fun fact!

When did you start Salt + Stone?

We finished production on our line in May and will officially launch the collection on our website, www.saltandstone.com in July.

Why did you start it?

We wanted to offer fashion forward fine jewelry that was available to our consumer at a reasonable price point. While we do have some high priced items, we believe that true design is priceless. We want our consumers and our fans to rethink fine jewelry and to start to fall in love with it again. We also recognize that behind every fine jewelry purchase is a story. Whether it’s a graduation gift, baby gift, wedding band, engagement or something beautiful for yourself, we want Salt + Stone to be the brand that helps you create that story.

What are three words to describe your brand?

Sophisticated, classic and whimsical.

Salt + Stone Diamond Castle

Why did you apply to DENYC?

Jewelry is our number one love, our passion. We understand that fashion is a business and in order to pursue this craft to our utmost potential we also need to be business-minded. We applied to DENYC to gain a better understanding about marketing, sales, public relations and finances. We wanted to help Salt + Stone grow.

What do you hope to get out of the program?

We hope to make new friends, write a killer business plan and have a stronger vision for where the company is headed.

What is Salt + Stone’s signature?

Our owl rings get us noticed, but it is our celestial chain necklace that achieves the most sales. We can’t keep it in stock!

Salt + Stone Owl Rings

Do you have a favorite piece?

The Celestial Bracelet. It is beautifully constructed and is reminiscent of the starry night sky. It’s a perfect example of our use of clean lines and chaotic stone placement. Beauty lies in the world’s imperfections and we hope to capture some of that magic in our work.

Salt + Stone Celestial Bracelet

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

It’s all here! There is more talent concentrated in this city than anywhere in the world. We are blessed to work with some of the most talented goldsmiths and silversmiths on the street (Diamond District).

Can you tell us a fun fact?

The company was started after our lead designer, Jacqueline Stone, came back from a life changing trip to Buzios, Brazil in 2007. This small beach village was made famous in the 1960s as it was a favorite destination of Brigette Bardot. There is a statue of her in the middle of the town. Jacqueline was inspired by the colors, creativity and the joie de vivre of the Brazilian people. She tries to incorporate that spirit in her work.

Learn more about Jacqueline Stone at Salt + Stone.