I would like to congratulate Ritu Jadwani, one of our ESL/Fashion Business certificate students from 2008, on starting her own business! I’ve seen these in person and my personal favorites are the bracelets, they are beautiful. Congrats Ritu!
Namaste NYC is a fair trade brand that creates beautifully hand-crafted products in India for a global audience. We incorporate crafts like hand embroideries, block prints, hand tie-dye, metal work and punch work to design interesting textures. With an aim to revive the dying craft industry of India, we support khadi and mashru hand woven fabrics that are going into extinction due to lack of skilled weavers and industrialization. We collaborate with globally renowned non-profit organizations in India, which focus towards women empowerment and sustainable rural development through crafts and embroideries. All our products are made in sweat free women operated ethical workshops. Fairly traded, crafted with love.
(Founder and designer Ritu Jadwani) I am inspired by Indian craftsmanship and age-old embroidery techniques with a modern touch. I grew up in India and came to FIT to learn about the international fashion scene. With an undergrad fashion degree and Master of global innovation business degree I combine my skills and love towards hand crafted products.
Coming to FIT for the ESL Fashion Business Certificate Program was the best decisions I made in July 2008. It gave me immense exposure by attending a world-renowned institute and living in a fashion capital city, New York. The knowledgeable faculty mentors, resourceful library, world-class museum and its tours, extra seminars, graduation fashion shows, fashion and museum tours in the city, and my diverse fashionista classmates have been of great influence in starting my business. Fortunately, I got a chance to return to FIT in Summer 2013 for more courses and I hope I return again and again!
After finishing my studies at FIT and gaining some industry experience, I returned back to my country, India. Inspired by the local artisan’s hand crafting skills, I decided to launch my accessory and apparel brand to promote fair trade items and support the dying cottage industries of my town. We launched as a wholesale company at the NY NOW fair in New York, in February 2014. Soon we started supplying to stores that appreciated hand crafted colorful items. We hope to reach out to museums, hotels and more hand made stores by the end of this year. Recently we launched our online retail store on Etsy with worldwide shipping at nominal/free costs. Check out our new collection at NY NOW in the Global Handmade section in New York City from Aug 16th – 21st 2014.
The second (annual I hope) Design Entrepreneurs NYC program came to an amazing finale Thursday evening September 26 with the announcement of two winners of cash awards of 1st place- $25,000 and 2nd place- $10,000. Becca McCharen owner of CHROMAT (chromatgarments.com) placed first in the business plan competition and Vasumathi Soundararajan (an FIT grad!) of Ken Wroy, Inc. (kenwroy.com) came in second (there were only two places). Kudos to the winners!
And kudos to the entire 2013 class of Design Entrepreneurs NYC! Everyone is on their way to growing their companies with freshly minted business plans in their possession. The intensive mini-MBA program started in June with solid weekend-filled classes and then the entrepreneurs spent their summer, under the guidance of mentors, working hard writing and refining their business plans. After submitting their business plans, the entrepreneurs waited to hear which ones were selected to present – half of the class of 35. The presentations, in front of industry judges in four different rooms, narrowed down the field to 4 finalists who then presented in front of all the judges and the 2013 class. Some of the Judges included: Tim Baxter (EVP & GMM, Macy’s), Morris Goldfarb (CEO, G-III Apparel), Ellen Rodriguez (President & CEO, French Connection), Jeffrey Binder (Consultant, Former Divisional Merchandise Manager, Bloomingdales), and Laurence Leeds, Jr. (Chair, Buckingham Capital). I was privileged to be a moderator for one of the panels.
So the entrepreneurs are off now to grow their businesses and take them in new directions as a result of this experience. As well as stay in touch with their classmates, faculty, school and judges.
The Design Entrepreneurs NYC (http://www.designentrepreneursnyc.com/) program is in full swing. One of the programs’ many offerings is an open classroom “mentoring” evening, where designers in the program can swing by and ask questions of instructors who are there for that purpose. It’s a great and informal way to get multiple opinions, points-of-view and advice on the designers’ company, business plan (which they write as part of the program) etc.
This recent Wednesday evening I was co-mentoring with Shawn Grain Carter, who teaches Fashion Merchandising and Marketing at FIT. The subject, as often happens, was brought up of designers negotiating with big companies – this could mean, contracts, licenses, royalties, intellectual property, employment, or all of the above. Many design entrepreneurs do these negotiations alone. Sometimes they feel they have enough knowledge to negotiate well for themselves. Sometimes they don’t know any better. Sometimes they don’t have the money to pay an attorney to go with them to help and advocate for them (and to keep them out of trouble). We discussed this in class and Shawn and I agreed that an entrepreneur absolutely needs an attorney to accompany them to such negotiation meetings. Or a business person, like an accountant. Or both. And Shawn advised everyone, and I agree, that they should have double A’s – an accountant and an attorney. They both keep you safe in any kind of business negotiation.
It’s a necessity in the fashion business but also in every sector. At the very least, there’s a second pair of ears listening to what’s going on and picking out important points that the entrepreneur might miss. At the very most, your A-team keeps you from making costly, and sometimes business-ending, mistakes. The world is littered with stories of failure because the entrepreneurs couldn’t or wouldn’t bring an attorney or accountant into a crucial negotiation (and, let’s face it, every negotiation when you’re a small business is crucial) with them.
I know you’ve heard me say this before…but repeating it never hurts…always use an attorney and/or accountant in contract reviews, negotiations, any business matter. The fees you pay your Double A-Team are minor compared with the money they save or help you get in the long run.