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 2013 Opening Reception

Design Entrepreneurs NYC 2013

Morris Goldfarb, CEO, G-III Apparel Group; Jeanette Nostra, president, G-III Apparel Group; Joyce F. Brown, president, Fashion Institute of Technology.

Our second installment of Design Entrepreneurs NYC kicked off last week with a reception to welcome the class of 2013.

Jeanette Nostra, president of G-III Apparel Group opened up their showroom to host the event. FIT president Joyce F. Brown and Steven Frumkin, Dean of the Jay and Patty Baker School of Business and Technology were there along with the NYCEDC, program mentors, instructors and the 2012 class to meet the new group and share their advice and inspirational words.

Check out some of the photos below from the evening and view all of them on our Facebook page.

Design Entrepreneurs NYC is Recruiting the Class of 2013

KahriAnne Kerr presenting her plan to a panel of industry experts

Looking to take your fashion business to the next level and need the tools and knowledge to help you run your day-to-day operations while you grow your brand? If so, we encourage you to apply to Design Entrepreneurs NYC. In its second year, our free “mini-MBA” program brought to you by FIT and the NYCEDC will consist of 35 designers for its 2013 class.

Designers selected into the program will participate in weekend intensive seminars from industry leaders on topics such as operations, marketing, financials and other brand building topics. Participants will be paired with a mentor and will use the summer months to work on their business plan. Those that complete the program will also have the opportunity to pitch to a panel of influential industry leaders.

Here’s our criteria for eligibility:

  • Must be a NYC-based (all 5 boroughs welcome) fashion designer
  • Have a NYC-based fashion design business including: womenswear, menswear, childrenswear, and/or accessories
  • Be committed to attending all mandatory events (e.g. kick-off, weekend intensives, presentation skills workshop, closing events)
We’d also like you to: 
  • Have been in business for at least one year
  • Have demonstrated traction in the industry (e.g. press coverage, sales, etc.)

The deadline to apply is March 31 at midnight. Learn more about the program at Design Entrepreneurs NYC. 

Design Entrepreneurs in the News: Fashion Week Roundup

Our design entrepreneurs had a strong presence at New York Fashion Week. From showing at Lincoln Center to the piers and all over the city, their spring collections were wonderful. We weren’t the only ones that noticed their talent. Take a look at just some of the clippings!

Sarah Canner featured on CrainsNewYork.com 

 

Suzanne Rae featured on Ecouterre.com 

Parke & Ronen featured on GQ.com 

Soham Dave featured on EcoSalon.com 

Marlon Gobel featured on GQ.com 

Q&A With Design Entrepreneur Katerina Lankova

We had a chance to sit down with Katerina Lankova, one of our design entrepreneurs to learn more about STEE-LETAS, a fun, legwear label that keeps ladies in style below the knee!

Can you tell us about your brand?
STEE-LETAS is a different kind of legwear that can serve as a substitute for boots, and keep you warm and protected from the weather. They are highly fashionable and you will be noticed once you put them on! You’ll probably also get asked questions about what they are when you wear them!

They are a great accessory between the seasons too. You can wear them when it’s cold or warm because they are made out of many different materials such as lace, leather and anything in between.

How did you get started? 
I have been sewing all my life but in 2007, I left Aspen after six years and came to NY with conscious plan to become a fashion designer. So I believe that was the start of my fashion career. I wanted to design skiwear but then when I created STEE-LETAS it changed my direction.
STEE-LETAS® were purely made out of necessity. I was sitting in my apartment at 3 a.m. with no money to spend on boots, so I made my legwear out of old stretch turtleneck and piece of a leather skirt. It worked!When I began, I was only using leather but then I thought of legs as a canvas and started using other materials and techniques such as lace, feathers, embroidery etc…The options are pretty much endless. You can use the front panel for a piece of art if you wish.
Did you go to design school? 
I did go to school for textile of manufacturing and technology back in the Czech Republic and I learned how to make clothes, but I had no idea I would become a designer. That was a process and journey, something you are given and cannot be learned. You just have to discover it within yourself. It took me a long time to find it and own it.
What’s your aesthetic?
I would say fashion forward and edgy. I believe I am innovative and also like to recycle and use materials from vintage stores to incorporate them into my designs because the end product has more personality.
Tell me about all of your lines you are currently working on?
At this moment I am mainly focusing on STEE-LETAS®, but on the side I’ve been involved with other projects such as designing costumes for music videos and dance performances.
In ski season, I also make special custom pieces for ladies in Aspen. It has always been my passion. I can make endless designs of STEE-LETAS and I can do it with my eyes closed, but to make something like ski pants gives me more of a challenge. I need that besides making something as simple as legwear. I like the intricate and tailored jackets and creating skiwear and equestrian one-of-a-kind pieces gives me feeling of true satisfaction.
But I like it all, and I love to sew. I make everything myself and don’t have a seamstress. My ideas come through while I am working on the actual piece and touching the material.
Check out more at Katerina Lankova

Q&A With Design Entrepreneur Sunghee Bang

Sunghee Bang Spring/Summer 2013

Here’s our latest chat with design entrepreneur Sunghee Bang. She describes her brand as a beautiful, quality label with an element of surprise that is for women who enjoy the luxury feel of knitwear and strong craftsmanship.

How long have you been designing? I have been designing my line for 3 years.

You started you line after attending FIT. Did you work for McQueen before or after school? I interned for Alexander McQueen right before my senior year. It was my last summer break in my life, so I wanted to experience something special. In 2008, I designed the Eiffel Tower and coil body prints for his Spring 2009 collection. Working in London with Alexander McQueen provided me with an entirely different perspective on fashion. McQueen’s approach to design showed me that there is no one-way to design.

Sunghee Bang Spring/Summer 2013

What’s your inspiration for spring/summer 13?
This season is all about sporty, versatile and easy-to-wear knits. The collection consists of minimized silhouettes with unusual twists such as combining stripes and flower prints with shiny and matte textures, creating asymmetrical silhouettes with un-matched seams along with tailored woven and soft knit shapes.

Using unique techniques and playing with perforated textures, I created 54 pieces that worked together to harmonize various ideas.

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See What Our Design Entrepreneurs are Posting on Instagram

Tirana Jewelry

Instagram has been on the rise for some time. When it became available on Android this April, the craze got even bigger with over 10 million user signups in 10 days reports American Express Open Forum in a story on why brands should be on Instagram. Oh, and yes, there was the Facebook acquisition for $1 billion dollars too.

Our smart and savvy designers have made their way onto Instagram with some product pics and behind the scenes shots. Here’s what they have going on:

Between The Sheets Lingerie

Adam Sirak

Check Out Our Designers at MAGIC

     Parke and Jessy at PROJECT

Three of our designers spent last week at MAGIC, the tradeshow that’s held in Las Vegas twice a year. We were out there to support our Design Entrepreneurs and see them in action!

Recollection by Sandra Murphy and Anjelika Krisna-Daftau of A.D.O. were two out of 10 designers that were selected to participate in the Launchpad Emerging Designers Showcase, an initiative sponsored by Fashion Business Incorporated, Balluun and Global Purchasing Agencies that gave up-and-coming designers prime real estate on the show floor and exposure to buyers, press and industry resources.

Parke & Ronen were at PROJECT introducing their latest sportswear and swim collections.

Anjelika and Sandra at Launchpad