There are a number of programs in place to help emerging designers in New York City grow their businesses, but some people think more needs to be done to assist the Big Apple's young talent.
In April, we reported that the New York City Economic Development Corporation and Capital Business Credit had joined forces to launch the New York City Fashion Production Fund, which is a $2 million public-private fund that will provide financing to up-and-coming New York City-based designers for production at below-market rates.
To follow up on that report and learn more about this new fund, which during the first round of financing will provide five to 10 designers with loans of up to $300,000, we spoke with JoBeth Tananbaum, the director of this fund.
Keep reading to hear what Tananbaum had to say about the fund and the future of New York City's fashion industry.
Why is the New York City Fashion Production Fund needed? Why is investing in emerging designers important?
"The reason for the production fund specifically is that we really want to encourage and allow young designers to keep their business in New York, and we give them the financial support they need to [develop] sustainable relationships. The fund isn't a grant program, it's a lending program, which give these designers access to first-tier lenders and allows them to grow their business. I think it's another really important financial resource that I don't think was available before."
How did you go about setting up the fund? What are some challenges you were faced with?
"The fund was actually part of [former Mayor Michael] Bloomberg's [Fashion.NYC.2020] initiative. He came to us at Capital Business Credit because we have a history in lending. We had a ton of experience working in the design community and helping emerging designers grow their business. For us, when we decided to go forward, there weren't major challenges."
Are you accepting applications on a rolling basis or is there a deadline to apply?
"It's a rolling basis, [but] keep in mind there is due diligence behind it. Give us ample time to make sure were covering all our bases. [Designers can apply] as many times as they want but can only apply once per season."
Are there certain things you look for in designers when deciding who gets a loan and who doesn't?
"We're very open minded. There's no specific type of designer - you can make anything. We like to see a company that has proven itself fashion-wise but that has a strong business background, a strong sense of how they're sales are doing, someone who understands the business. To have a great fashion company, you have to be a good business person. We don't expect everyone to be a Michael Kors walking through the door with a ton of experience. We want to see that they're reasonable and ready to learn with us."
What kind of an effect do you think/hope this fund will have on New York City's fashion industry?
"We really want to make sure we're fostering the best talent in New York and they don't have to go elsewhere to find the resources they need. We want designers to understand that they have the ability to develop a relationship with us. it's not just one season. We want them to keep coming back. We want designers to always feel like they never have to say no to an order [because it's too big for them to fill]."
What's the next step? Will the fund eventually have a mentorship component?
"Definitely. We want designers to have access to really great industry professionals who can help them develop ideas and solve problems. We hope to match them with a professional [who can help with their specific problems]. That's the way we envision it to be. It'll be a network. Now that we have a number of applicants, we really have to figure out what the designers need. We want to make sure we're providing them with access to industry leaders that made sense."