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.