All Articles Tagged "fashion design"
When last we spoke with Cecily Habimana, she had just raised $11,700 on Kickstarter to manufacture the latest collection for her fashion line, Simply Cecily. We caught up with her last week and she told us that she just showcased some of her spring/summer designs at DC Fashion Week. So, it sounds like things are going pretty well, which is much-deserved after 10 years of work.
Fashion is everywhere. If we’re not out shopping for ourselves, we’re looking what other people are wearing on the red carpet recaps we find online. Or we’re watching shows like Project Runway and America’s Next Top Model. Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week was only a few weeks ago, and if you couldn’t get a front-row seat on the catwalk, you may have participated in Fashion’s Night Out. The ladies living the high life on reality TV (or trying to give off the vibe that they’re living large) have handbag, swimsuit and various fashion lines. Or they’re dressing themselves while we sit on our couches and critique.
No doubt there are many people out there who have a creative streak and want to start a fashion line of their own. While it’s glamorous and fun, fashion is big business. Labels like Prada and Michael Kors, for instance, are public companies, answering back to investors and global financial onlookers. But even Miuccia and Michael had to start somewhere.
For Habimana, the start was custom work. “It might be a good way to start so people will know your style,” she says. Even though she began with one-off custom pieces, she still participated in fashion shows. “You can start small and stay small for a while,” she adds.
As evidenced by her Kickstarter campaign, another thing that Habimana needed was capital. Besides the money she raised through the campaign, Habimana says that she and her hubby have been investing their own money into the business. To start, Habimana suggests $25,000. Her budget also has to take into account trips to Africa to purchase materials (her designs are based on African fabrics). If you want to manufacture, that’s a cost you have to factor in. Or if you want to open a brick-and-mortar store, that’s a separate budget. Habimana wants to stick with online sales and sales through boutiques.
“The first normal thing that a business student would do would be a business plan,” she says, describing the first step after one decides they want to start a fashion design business. She decided to forego the plan-making stage. “I would’ve had to postpone the launch of the line until next fall if I did that.”
That’s another necessity for getting started — knowledge of the fashion calendar. Habimana started the company this past January and knew she’d have to have samples for Spring/Summer 2013 by July. “Know what the fashion industry calendar looks like because it’s all mapped,” Habimana advises. Indeed, all you need to do is check online for the various fashion shows and you’ll know exactly when the buyers and the press will be looking for the new season’s offerings.
By day, 30-year-old Cecily Habimana is a fundraising extraordinaire at Washington D.C.’s Atlas Performing Arts Center. By night, you can find her at home carefully cutting bright, bold African fabrics and sewing together the pieces of her fashion design dreams.
Habimana is an artist; a dancer, seamstress and designer all in one. And she’s equally in love with business. She only leaves time in each day for the things she loves.
“My mom is an artist and I grew up under her making jewelry,” she says. “I started sewing when I was about 12. She showed me the basics and I ran with it. By my sophomore, junior year of high school, I started making prom dresses for friends. In college I didn’t have any other job but sewing. “
The name for her business came just as easily as her sewing skills: Simply Cecily. Her mother chose the name while Cecily was in high school, and she immediately loved it. From high school through 2011, Simply Cecily only created custom orders.
Habimana went on to earn a business degree from Howard University and obtained her MBA from George Washington University. Since dancing is also a passion, she began to study African dance in 2000 when she went to Howard. Her studies spurred a trip to Guinea in 2004.
“From there I fell in love with dance and the culture and I wanted to learn French,” she says. “If I hadn’t studied West African dance I wouldn’t be interested in the fabrics.”
You might remember Nicci Gilbert from back in the 90’s when she started the R&B group Brownstone, the first artists to be signed to Michael Jackson’s label. Her passion and soul came through in her vocals yet the pain of her struggles with her weight ultimately led her to pursue other avenues.
Years later, happily married and following in her mother’s footsteps as an entrepreneur, she’s mastering reality TV as co-executive producer of R&B Divas (premiering August 20th at 10pm on TV One) and launching a “big girls” clothing line, Curvato Clothing.
MN: Who introduced you to entrepreneurship?
NG: My mother was the first entrepreneur that I knew. Not only was she a jazz singer but she owned five or six houses and two buildings. My childhood was filled with going to these houses that my mother would buy and cleaning them out, painting and getting them ready to rent. I remember sitting in the car most days watching my mom go to collect rent from her tenants. I didn’t know it at the time but she was instilling that constant Detroit hustle and grind in me.
I was the older of two younger sisters and it was my job to make sure they were ready for school. Most times my mom would work at the clubs as a singer at night and she opened a resale shop so we’d go to the shop and work after school. As it pertains to business and my hustle, everything that I know and learned was from my mother.
MN: What does hustle mean to you?
NG: Beyonce said it best: “A diva is a female version of a hustler.” In my opinion, it just means going for something with everything that you have and to not limit what you have to do temporarily to reach that passion. Hustling means to never give up. With me, I always have a few balls in the air.
MN: What’s “the Octopus theory”?
NG: “The Octopus theory” means there’s one head controlling all of these arms, fully aware of what each of these arms is doing. [At times] some of the arms might be a little limp, which means the other arms have to take the slack.
MN: What did you learn about business from being a part of the R&B group Brownstone?
NG: I saw the movie Dead Poets Society and I was just moved by this whole “carpe diem” theory (“Seize the day”). So I went out to LA and placed ads in the paper, auditioned girls and started a female group. What I realized is that not everybody takes kindly to direction and from the beginning I was very much the direction girl. I like to control as many aspects of my life as I can.
MN: What were your struggles with Brownstone?
NG: When I started the group, I wanted us to be singers. It wasn’t about fashion or being the cutest. We were to be the best singers out there, the best writers, have the best songs and give great voice. But later on, the label just wanted to figure out how to market up to a mass audience. By then, I was the chubby girl and when it came time for the second album, I was being told to starve myself, get plastic surgery or do whatever I had to do to fit into this other mode.
It was then that I just started to see that maybe this wasn’t the train that I was suppose to be on. I found myself changing from this bubbling Detroit hustler girl into the girl looking in the mirror every five minutes because I was constantly told that I was just too big. So that kinda started to diminish my passion for music.
The image of a naked female phoenix straddling a naked Kanye may have been banned in the U.S. as the album cover for his fifth studio album, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” but Kanye has decided to put the art to better use by launching a risqué line of scarf designs.
Under a partnership with M/M (Paris), Kanye created five limited-edition designs that were printed on silk ties set in gold lettering. The designs are based on the cover of his hit album, which was designed by artist George Condo. The nude portrait of Kanye and the female phoenix is one of the five designs that were commissioned for the scarves.
Only 100 of each of the five scarves were designed, and each edition was given its own name, which includes “Power,” the “Phoenix,” the “Face”, the “Ballerina” and the “Priest.” The scarves will be sold exclusively through M/M (Paris)’s website, and at the French boutique Colette for $364 U.S. retail, reports the Daily Mail.
This is the latest fashion project for Kanye who created a line of sneakers for Louis Vuitton in 2009, and the Air Yeezy sports show with Nike.
(New York Times) — One night at design school in London, Eddie Opara was working late with a friend, Kojo Boateng. “A friend of ours came in and was like: ‘Why are you still here?”’ he recalled. “Kojo said: ‘It’s because we’re black. We have to work harder than you.’ I don’t know if it was true, but that was how we felt.” Twenty years later, Mr. Opara is a partner of Pentagram, the prestigious design group in New York, and Mr. Boateng is design director of ITN, the television news network in London. They have joined the elite band of successful black designers in Europe and North America, which includes Gail Anderson in graphics, Joshua Darden in typography and the furniture designer Stephen Burks.
Yet such successes are still relatively rare. Women have long complained that design has been a “man’s world,” but white man’s world would be more accurate. “There are more black designers coming up now,” Mr. Opara said. “But it is disappointing that there aren’t more of us.” It is, though design has come a long way since Charles Harrison first tried to join the design team at Sears, Roebuck and Company in Chicago in 1956. A manager told him that there was an unwritten policy against employing black people. Sears eventually hired him in 1961, and he worked there for 32 years, becoming chief designer and developing more than 600 products, many of them best sellers.
But designers of color, even those as accomplished as Mr. Harrison, were largely ignored by the design establishment until fairly recently. Historically, design has had difficulty with diversity. Culturally, it was dominated by European Modernism throughout the 20th century, when its values shaped industrial design worldwide, even in North America. Economically, design was defined by standardization, and the need to exploit economies of scale by making huge quantities of the same things.
by R. Asmerom
Design, outsourcing and marketing are key for any entrepreneur looking to get into the seemingly limitless fashion market. Mike “Black” Yussuf, the man behind the men’s fashion label Blac Label Premium figured that out long before he delved into the designer scene. Although he’s always had a strong interest in fashion, working as a financial analyst for Saks Fifth Avenue and Liz Clairborne gave him financial insight into product development and performance.
“All the different divisions had to provide detailed reports as to why their numbers were what they were and I would have to proofread them,” he said. “Those reports would show if tops were doing better, how DKNY Jeans were doing, why our denim sales were slowing down, etc, etc.”
Black left the corporate finance world in 2002 when he got the opportunity to work with Total Sport Inc., a Philadelphia-based retail chain founded by his friend Mike Harris. During his time as general manager, the company grew from 4 locations to 15 stores and 100 employees. The stint proved to be further training for his endeavor in the retail business.
“Total Sport Inc. had stores from New Jersey all the way down to Atlanta, and I got to see the different markets and how different things were operating in those markets,” he said. “I’ve worked in a number of the stores myself and actually got to interact with customers.”
His work with Total Sport Inc. led to consulting gigs with several companies including Headgear Inc, which was then manufacturing Negro league baseball jerseys and jackets and black college apparel, and which now owns retail chain Up Against The Wall.
In 2005, the idea of starting a fashion label was bubbling in his mind and Black knew he had to shift gears and cement his relationship with Headgear. His life-long interest in fashion design came to fruition when he presented the concept of Blac Label Premium and launched the brand under Headgear in 2006.
By Ronda Racha Penrice
It’s very hard to forget Mychael Knight’s star-turning performance on the third season of “Project Runway,” Bravo’s juggernaut that has since moved to Lifetime. Young, black designers aren’t quite as visible these days. Yes, hip-hop clothing lines have become a norm but even then, it’s the rapper backing the line that gets the spotlight, not the designer. Mychael Knight is a throwback to Patrick Kelly and Bryon Lars in the sense that they too primarily designed women’s clothes and gained recognition in the predominantly white fashion industry. How he has done it, however, is very twenty-first century.
A military brat, Knight was born in Germany and raised in various parts of the U.S., with major stops in Montgomery, AL and Augusta, GA. He attended Georgia Southern University in Statesboro near Savannah and relocated to his now home base of Atlanta after graduation. The interest in fashion came early and organically.
“For me, [designing] was really like God-given because at the age of nine I just started sketching out of the blue,” said Knight. “One day I was just home and I was living in Augusta at the time and was watching TV. I saw something on TV and I thought ‘ooh that was cool’ and I started designing. That’s exactly how it happened.”
His parents encouraged his talent, as did his high school art teacher. “My parents definitely supported a lot. Whether it was just buying me fashion magazines or illustration supplies so I could draw or whatever it was, they just made sure they nurtured that interest,” he said. “In high school my art teacher knew that I had an interest in fashion so she actually created a special studies class for me on fashion illustration.”
At Georgia Southern, Knight really began cultivating his craft. The school didn’t have the biggest name or the most fashion-centric location, but its instructors and friendly budget suited Knight’s needs. He made the most of every opportunity, designing for the dance team and school fashion shows, not to mention his fellow classmates. The trend of turning jeans into jean skirts really kept him busy. “I wasn’t even thinking I am a fashion designer — I was thinking I need to eat. I knew I could make a dress, so why not?” he reflected.
Eventually he did begin to see himself as a designer and his senior show emerged as a pivotal moment. “The show [normally consisted of] about six pieces but I decided to do a thirty piece collection, which was the first ever at the school,” said Knight. “I completely produced the whole show myself, cast my own models, trained the models, put on bake sales and wing sales on campus to make money to buy fabric.”
Relocating to Atlanta convinced Knight that he was not only a designer, but an entrepreneur. With the exception of an internship with Wilbourn Exclusive, a custom-design firm, and a three-month stint at a collection agency, Knight has always worked for himself. The permanent shift to self employment was unplanned. As Knight explained it, he got sick one day and called off of work. The next day, he felt better but still didn’t go to work. By the third day, they called him and asked if he was coming back and he said no.
(New York Times) — It is widely agreed that Chicago is a great place to learn fashion design. Big enough and diverse enough to inspire young designers, Chicago is also affordable and accessible, two things that fashion powerhouses New York and Los Angeles (and Paris and Milan and London) are not. Throw in a top-notch design school — theSchool of the Art Institute of Chicago — and you’ve got an enormously appealing training ground for the next generation of Marc Jacobses and Phoebe Philos.