August Networking Event Featuring Carole McClellan

This month’s FGI Seattle networking event was full of yummy drinks, delectable snacks, and the beautiful Sovereign Collection by Carole McClellan. Carole is a current Seattle based Atelier known for her use of leather and repurposed fur.

Her recent Sovereign Collection consists of classic shapes made out of luxurious materials that you can wear everyday. The collection was originally inspired by elements from nature as well as the pixilation of mind craft. You are easily reminded of these ideas when you look at the beautiful detail and fabrics; accented python, washable leathers, and pixilated snakeskin are just a few.


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We were excited to learn that Carole McClellan has teamed up with Seneca and Spruce. Seneca and Spruce is a new online magazine and retailer located in Seattle that supports designs from emerging designers. Her collection will be available in September through their online website.


We hope you enjoyed yourself. Thank you Carole McClellan for sharing your collection and inspiration with us! And a huge thank you to Blue Martini in Bellevue for being a fabulous host.




Author: Saasha Day

Editor: Yuliya Suleymanova

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#FGImember #DVF ‘s show was epic with N

#FGImember #DVF ‘s show was epic with Naomi Campbell closing the show! Here’s the link: cc @ModaandEstilo

2nd Annual IDRS!

#FGI Members mark your calendars for this years #IDRS!

Independent Designer Runway Show is on Wednesday, September 25th at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue, 6:30 pm

Experience the Northwest’s unique fashion scene as The Bellevue Collection in partnership with Fashion Group International hosts the second annual Independent Designer Runway Show to feature eleven Northwest fashion designers. The event is 21 and over. Media Partner: Seattle Met. VIP tickets are $75 and General Admission tickets are $50. 100% of the ticket price benefits the IDRS program. FGI will have an early HH somewhere close before the event, stay tuned! Tickets:


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Guest Blogger: Kate Neschke writes on our Iva Jean Kickstarter Event!

Iva Jean inspires women to bike with style and confidence, by designing functional and fashionable clothing that works on and off a bike


Iva Jean first came on my radar in the pages of my Fast Company magazine when the fashion focused bike line was featured in the article, The Power of Crowdfunding. Ann DeOtte Kaufman, Seattle local and designer of the line, realized that fashionable bike clothes for women just didn’t exist. So, instead of behing hindered by what didn’t exist, she set out to create it. And, with the help of 252 backers over the course of 30 days, she exceeded her original $15,000 goal and raised $26,500 for the Iva Jean line.


I had the opportunity to hear Ann give her story at a recent Fashion Group International event, where she talked about the passion and process behind her successful Kickstarter campaign.



“The Iva Jean Story: From Kickstarter to Retail” was held in the Melrose Market Studios. A video, which gathered everyone to their seats and we saw images of the process of hand sewing the items while a voice over of her story and passion filled the room. Watching the threads pull the clothing together on the video, we saw the panelists gather below the screen. Moderated by Adam Moon, a trendsetter in the fashion industry, the panel featured the designer herself, Ann DeOtte-Kaufman as well as a few key people that helped in her campaign. Kristine Carlton and Jenny Mae Miller are the Founders of Sewn Product Services and worked closely with Ann on the Iva Jean line in multiple aspects including the style development, patterns, sampling and production. Representing creativeLIVE, the Iva Jean Kickstarter social media component, Lead Line Producer Lindsay Martin also joined.


Ann started with the story and inspiration behind the event, how she started biking seven years and gave up her car. She would often gym clothes to bike to work, and because of her laid back office she started wearing her biking clothes IN the office and “I realized that was NOT (fashionably) okay!” Instead, she started to experiment by wearing her everyday clothes on her bike commute.


One particular Seattle day, it started to rain while she was riding which made her think, “What if there was a solution that wasn’t Gortex?” At that moment the early beginnings of Iva Jean started to form. Ann started doing her research on the concept of having more stylish riding attire for women and quickly realized that there were few options out there despite a large population of female riders. She started working on the line while she was still employed full time, spending nights and weekends working on different concepts and testing various fabrics. With the help of various friends and contacts, even one of the readers of her blog, she started to design the Iva Jean line. “We got it as far as we could but weren’t sure how to take it to production.”

Through her discussion, the story was told and Ann emphasized how she learned along the way, even three years into designing she was learning an making proper tweaks and updates. “Working a full time job and this (developing the Iva Jean line) on the side is great. But when you take that step to really commit you’re faced with thoughts of how to fund it, what’s the next step, is my plan and product worthwhile? What would anyone find me?” Ann said. “You have to Learn how to tell your story on a different scale. Know its a process, there will be iterations and you’ll want it to ‘just work’ bit it doesn’t happen that way and you have to be understanding of that iterative process. I found a niche. The market can be so saturated and that’s where you need to have the story. What’s different about your product that someone else’s? Most of all”, she said, “don’t get discouraged! The first three days and the last three days are the hardest!”

When asked about why she chose Kickstarter she responded, “I found that the Kickstarter community has the same vision and passions to fund dreams and make products. I liked that my customers we’re my investors.” Ann noted that only 20% of her funding came from people she knew. The Kickstarter community looks for the story behind the product. “Look for people that want to be part of your success” she said, referring to her story about how videographer postponed their payment pending successful finding.


Kristine and Jenny Mae, who worked with Ann on the development and production aspects of the line, gave the advice, “That’s a big challenge learning how to start small and scale and its way more difficult than anyone tells you it is. We’d love to if everything through the easy bake oven, but it just doesn’t work that way.”

Lauren and Ann both agreed that it’s important to build a connection you’re your target community before starting into a Kickstarter campaing. “Give yourself time to connect and build community with them before you launch and ask for their money.”


When asked what the highs were, she listed the people she got to work with as being one of the greatest joys of the project, “well, and the Fast Company article!” she added. “You don’t have to ride a bike to weary gear. I want to be where people that shop the same as I would, and happen upon the fact that it works on a bike.”








Mentorship Program Success!

Fashion Group International launched their pilot Mentor-ship Program just six months ago, and with 8 pairs, our program participants have made great strides in their growing fashion-related businesses. We have been thrilled to be the bridge that connects veteran fashion executives (from Macy’s corporate to Nordstrom) with up-and-coming independent designers.Image

Barry Weisband, former University of Washington business school professor, is one of our volunteer mentors who is not only a fantastic resource to FGI and his men-tees (MUSES 501c3) but also launching a fashion incubator in the City of Kenmore. Here’s more info about this exciting opportunity launching this fall.

FGI: Tell us briefly about your professional background, and how you got involved with the City of Kenmore?

BW: I am an entrepreneur and intrapreneur.  I’ve started for profit businesses, developed and launched business for healthcare organizations, and I have created incubators for entrepreneurs to create and build businesses. As the Founding Director of  the Entrepreneurship Center at a local university, I initiated dialogue with the City of Kenmore to explore its interest and possibilities to create an incubator for the city.  They were so excited about the possibilities that they have funded a pilot program from the city’s biennial budget.

FGI: How did the City of Kenmore come up with the idea to invest in an incubator, and why fashion?

BW: Kenmore’s executive team is very energized to work with FGI.  They see it as a prime opportunity to help talented designers and potentially create new businesses and jobs for a variety of people.

FGI: Any fashion connections (or companies) out there in Kenmore already?

BW: Not to my knowledge. But we’re trailblazing!!

FGI: What are the hopes for the City for this fashion incubator program.

BW: Creating a cluster so that it becomes recognized by the public and industry as “design central”!



Here’s another Success Story from Sydney and Diane~


Mentor:  Sydney Mintle — Founder, Gossip & Glamour

Mentee:  Diane Lansinger — CEO, Ready-to-Bare


The most compelling piece of advice you learned from your mentor.

Sydney gave me a better understanding of how to source overseas.  I have no background in this aspect of apparel manufacturing, but it will be a critical part of my business because the technology to manufacture some of my core pieces (bras & camisoles with no-sew construction, custom foam cups and laser-cut edges) is currently not available at any US lingerie manufacturers.  I wasn’t sure at what point it made the most sense to travel to Hong Kong or elsewhere to visit manufacturers – was it something I should do first in order to have samples made and tour potential factories, or was it something I should do later in the process?  Sydney pulled on her experience in manufacturing at Zumiez and advised me to do as much as possible remotely first.  She advised me to if at all possible wait until I had production-ready samples in hand and was ready to sign checks for initial runs, then book my trip to visit the manufacturing facilities and make final decisions on-site.  It probably seems like such a logical thing to someone with this experience, but for me, it was a relief to hear that so much could be done initially without incurring the significant cost of a trip.


Three things you will consider editing in your business/line, and why?

1)      Launch with a complete line, not just 1-2 pieces.  I was initially considering launching my line with just 1-2 samples and then using a Kickstarter campaign as a pre-sale for manufacturing these items.  Now, though, I’m planning on launching with 10-12 samples.  I think this will resonate better my target customer base, since their apparel needs and buying habits (and therefore the opportunity for my business) goes beyond just a few core items.  I was hesitant to define the lowest-hanging-fruit in my business opportunity so broadly with 10-12 pieces because it seemed like a lot to coordinate in the early sample-making stages, but after talking with Sydney I think I can take this more aggressive strategy and still not bite off more than I can chew.

2)      Pursue a more aggressive social media campaign to build community behind my brand before I launch my Kickstarter campaign.  Sydney has many areas of expertise and building a social media following for brands is one of them; we had some insightful discussions about how much time and effort it takes to really get traction and build a community via social media, and now I see the value of putting dedicated resources into this as soon as I have any relevant content to share with my community.  Before my mentorship with Sydney, I was probably thinking too narrowly about what makes “relevant content” in a social media campaign.  Now I see that even something as seemingly mundane as “here’s a pic of the fabric we’re considering” is valid in the content-is-king requirement of building brand.  I also have a better understanding of which social media tools would be best to devote resources in my early stage – not just Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, but Pinterest, Instagram and Vine too.

3)      Give more time to develop a strong social media community before my Kickstarter launch.  Before working with Sydney as my mentor, I had the impression from other resources I’d tapped that it might take 2-3 months of aggressive


The most surprising information you learned from your mentor.

First, the accessibility of working remotely with overseas companies.  Second, how small the fashion community is here in Seattle, and willing it is to help people launch new brands.  It seems everyone knows everyone, or knows someone who knows them!  And everyone I’ve met through my involvement with FGI and the mentor program, including my mentor Sydney, has been so open and supportive of my business idea and sharing any resources they have.


What’s your next action step in moving forward with your business?

Finalizing my seed capital through an SBA loan, and then beginning sample production.


What would you recommend to other up-and-coming designers/entrepreneurs?

Three things:

1)      Join FGI!  This has been a wonderful resource for me to gain a better understanding of how to launch an apparel business.

2)      Get a mentor.  Tapping into their knowledge and professional network are priceless.

3)      If you’re in the Seattle area, take the University of Washington “Fashion:  Concept to Market” certificate program. This is a 9 month program on how to launch an apparel line.  It covers a bit of everything:  conceptual and technical design, supply chain management, financial planning, marketing and brand development.  I completed the program recently and call it my “Mini-MBA in Fashion Entrepreneurship.”  And if you take the program, apply for the FGI Seattle – Olive J. Smith Scholarship, which covers the full tuition for the program.  I was a very fortunate recipient of this scholarship for the 2012-13 certificate class, and am so grateful FGI Seattle’s support of my first foray into launching my company.  Thank you again, FGI Seattle!


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FGI Members Luminita Jewelry will be at Magic in August and at IDRS this year in September!


Check out their collection!

Twisted and Candied Collections by Luminita

Launching in Fall 2013 @ Bellevue Fashion Week Independent Designer Runway Show, September 25th 2013

Bellevue based jewelry designer, Luminita is known for unparalleled quality and ingenuity along with her modern twist on fine jewelry.  By reaching into the ancient art of weaving she has created the future in jewelry.  By re-inventing the clasp she goes where no other jewelry designer has gone; allowing her client to create and express their personal style.

Luminita Jewelry presents Twisted and Candied:

Twisted elevates the beauty of organic materials. Luxury leather, antique silver components and fused glass elements are twisted into contemporary jewelry.  This collection is unisex; it’s bold, provocative, and sexy.  It’s not for the demure.  It is the future of bangles and single and double collar necklaces.

Candied is handmade by Luminita. Each piece is weaved to perfection by combining metallic and glass beads into an array of collections that range from vibrant candy colors to palettes of subtle ocean tones.  Candied is young, flirty, and whimsical.  It’s meant to be layered and played with.

For more info:

Contact:  Tamar Boden, Sales Director

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MUSES Conscious Fashion Studio’s Sandrine Espie Shares Experience in FGI’s Mentorship Program

FGI Mentor Program

Muses started a year ago, and we are now ramping up to launch our pilot training program. At this stage, it is critical for us to work with a business mentor, who can help us define a realistic and sustainable business model and financial plan. FGI connected us with Barry Weisband. Through his extensive experience in business and start-ups, Barry provides us with insightful advice and guidance. Barry poses many relevant, challenging questions that we need to address regarding our strategy and growth model. All team members are currently committed volunteers and raising funds is now critical for us to maintain our ability to manage Muses’ program and services. Barry is working on helping us build a strong business plan that will allow Muses to become a sustainable organization. We are enjoying working with our mentor and are confident that we are nurturing a trusting and supportive relationship. Thanks FGI for this great mentorship program!

Sandrine, Esther, Nataliya

Muses Conscious Fashion Studio


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