The New York Fashion Week show schedule seems to get increasingly crowded with each new season, making it more difficult for emerging designers to get themselves noticed by buyers, press and other important industry figures.
Wanting to do something to get these young designers the recognition they deserve, in 2007 Kerry Bannigan launched Nolcha Shows, a growing platform that helps independent designers showcase their collections during NYFW.
Although NYFW isn't until September, Nolcha Shows recently announced its spring/summer 2017 designer lineup, and we had the opportunity to talk with Bannigan about why she launched Nolcha Shows, the importance of supporting young designers and much more. Keep reading for the full interview.
1. What inspired you to launch Nolcha Shows?
"The Nolcha Shows were born of out of the idea and need for independent fashion designers to have a reputable platform to showcase their collections during New York Fashion Week. We aim to provide a 360-degree, turnkey solution for fashion designers, offering support in hair and makeup stylists, models, public relations, production, marketing and overall business growth around the event."
2. What were you doing before Nolcha Shows? Have you always wanted to work in fashion?
"My background is in marketing and communications. I started Nolcha in my early 20s shortly after graduation. I have always appreciated the fashion and retail sector and really enjoy the diversity that I experience in my career from personalities, talent, creativity and the ever-changing pace."
3. What can we expect from Nolcha Shows in September?
"We are thrilled to welcome ACID NYC and Rohitava Banerjee back again to our runway and newcomers Jody Bell and Olivia B as international Ones to Watch brands. Our Fashion Lounge will showcase accessory designers including returning brands Michelle Pajak-Reynolds, Taylord Blu and El Voyage, with Oysby, Dela Eva, Riley Versa, Marshelly's Jewelry and James Carleton as new brands to our roster. We are so grateful to the support of our returning official sponsors NeoGrid for Fashion and Citibank."
4. Nolcha Shows seems to have grown tremendously since it first launched — to what do you attribute its success?
"At the forefront of our growth is our insightful, dedicated and enthusiastic team who understand the journey of the independent fashion designer and deliver a high standard experience for our client and attendees. We are very thankful for the continual support that we receive from the media as this plays a large role in our growth."
5. Why is supporting independent fashion designers so important to you personally?
"I have always been a big supporter of the underdog and providing resources toward their growth. I am a small town girl who dreamed of making it in the city, and I know what can be achieved by surrounding yourself with guidance and the right resources. This is the same of what the Nolcha Shows aims to provide independent fashion designers and support them to achieve their professional goals."
6. What challenges has Nolcha Shows had to overcome throughout the years?
"Like any new startup at the beginning, we went through the recruitment, financial, marketing, building a name and then expansion phases. All come with their own unique set of challenges. The success is in the continuing to move forward despite facing obstacles or ideas failing on the first attempt."
7. Walk us through a day in the life of Nolcha Shows CEO.
"Prior to the shows, I spend a lot of my day attending appointments with fashion designers to learn more about their collections, business and goals, [as well as] connecting with the media regarding brand stories and partnerships and also assisting the sponsorship team to ensure marketing delivers a seamless branding experience for the sponsor brands. Our team works very closely together to make each sector and piece work together to provide all of our clients — designers and sponsors — a strong and memorable brand experience each season. Due to the nature of our clientele, I will end up in factories, studios and showrooms for many of our meetings along with venue views for pre-production planning for each of our events."
8. How do you decide what brands/designers to feature at Nolcha Shows each season?
"We have a team who reviews the applications and select the brands suitable to our different showcase opportunities. When curating the brands, various items are taken into consideration, including stage of business, manufacturing, stockists and continued selling ability, business development and press."
9. As a successful female entrepreneur, what advice do you have for other young women in business?
"Never forget where you come from. Just as quickly as trends come and go, so could your success. Treat people with respect, build meaningful relationships and remember to help people versus seeking your own agenda."
10. What's your favorite memory from a past Nolcha Shows event?
"I have a lot — each season brings a new set. Last season was seeing ACID NYC return to our showcase for another season as they have worked so hard to launch their brand. I love seeing brands continue to strive season and season. Also, I love looking over into the crowd while I am producing the shows front of house and seeing our loyal attendees there to support our curated independent fashion talent. Jessica Pimentel from 'Orange is the New Black' is a fantastic supporter, and it's always fun to see her front row dressed in new brands utilizing her influence to help these young brands grow."