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Fashion Design Business Incubator Opening In Tempe
A fashion design business incubator will set up shop in downtown Tempe in October. Several organizations are joining to offer low-cost work spaces, manufacturing, classes and mentorship.
“The point for us is to make this affordable for emerging designers because our goal, our mission is to scaffold the industry here to support these emerging designers,” said Angela Johnson. Johnson founded LabelHorde, an online Arizona fashion directory and will help teach classes and mentor designers at the incubator.
LabelHorde and clothing manufacturer Arizona Fashion Source started their incubator five months ago out of a smaller space in Mesa.
The Tempe City Council approved an agreement to rent the Tempe Performing Arts Center at 132 E. 6th Street for a nominal fee last week. In exchange, the incubator will invest an estimated $50,000 into renovating the building and foster community events. There will be free classes in topics such as fashion illustration and sewing.
“They’re going to help position us to become a upcoming U.S. fashion city, if you will,” said Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell.
The Arizona Apparel Foundation, a nonprofit to be based out of the incubator will provide vocational training and plans to partner with ASU to support research into wearable tech and work with students. Economic Development Director Donna Kennedy said the incubator fits with Tempe’s goals.
“It’s to start businesses with new ideas, new concepts to bring them into the fold of all our businesses that we’ve already attracted here and compliment them,” Kennedy said.
A launchpad for local designers
Johnson, with LabelHorde, said when she established her directory 15 years ago, there were few resources for designers starting out.
She said fashion design is a difficult home business because you need space to spread fabric, cut patterns and specialized machines.
“We want to be able to supply that to them so they can really get going without all these upfront costs that are holding them back,” Johnson said.
Johnson said this is the first space like this in the Valley.The Tempe Performing Arts Center will host ten offices and work spaces with access to equipment such as sewing machines and cutting tables. Rent for designers will cost from $35 for a day up to $650 a month. There will also be scholarships available for emerging designers to work in three additional offices for six month stints.
“We’re providing one building there you can learn, you can use your skills, you can source you skills,” Johnson said.