Pratt Institute is the latest fashion industry establishment to unveil an incubator program designed to help emerging designers succeed.
On Tuesday night, Pratt Institute's Brooklyn Fashion and Design Accelerator (BF+DA for short) will officially be unveiled. The 21,000-square-foot facility, which is located in the Pfizer building in South Williamsburg, was created to help design startups establish and grow their businesses.
The BF + DA features work space, a showroom, a conference room, a 3-D fabrication lab with 3-D printing and laser-cutting services, a sample development studio and other small-run manufacturing capabilities, as well as a retail space where the public can shop and meet the designers, WWD reported.
There are currently 16 entrepreneurs, or "venture fellows" as they're called, based at the Brooklyn accelerator, and 12 more are expected to move in in the coming months.
"It occurred to me that we needed this space for students to expand their ideas and to possibly become viable businesses," Debera Johnson, executive director of the BF+DA, told Fashionista.
According to Fashionista, the BF + DA looks at five things when considering who gets to become a venture fellow — design innovation, their mission, a commitment to reducing social and environmental impact, growth potential and culture fit. Designers are allowed to stay in the space for a maximum of three years, and each one gets reviewed every year. In addition to access to the tools BF + DA offers, participating designers will also get valuable mentorship.
"It's important for us to create a community of people that have a similar value set to create a really generous, giving community," Deborah Alden, BF + DA managing director, told Fashionista.
"We have to be careful how we curate the companies coming in so they don't feel highly competitive, but they feel highly supported and interested," Johnson added.
Additionally, BF + DA also plans to team up with a yet-to-be-named group to create an apprenticeship program for 18- to 24-year-olds who live in the neighborhood to teach them what it takes to run a successful fashion business.