One of the reasons I recently travelled to NYC for the Texworld trade show was to build up Redress Raleigh’s relationships. I believe that connections with other people with similar viewpoints are vital to furthering the mission of Redress Raleigh and I also greatly enjoy meeting with people and learning about their passions. While I was in New York I had a few meetings both with existing connections and with new ones. I greatly enjoyed spending time with each person and felt like each meeting added a whole other level of learning to my New York experience.
My first meeting was with Adam Clancy, Director of Operations for Modavanti. Modavanti is an e-retailer specializing in eco and ethical goods - from killer heels by Olsenhaus to beautiful blazers by Feral Childe to trendy accessories and clothes by brands from all over the world! One of the things I took away from my meeting with Adam is that as an entrepreneur / small business you have to learn to ‘roll with the punches’. We spoke about how you often have to react quickly and readjust your business model depending on what is working and what is not. Our conversation also reminded me that it is essential to keep the bigger vision in mind – to remember what you’re working toward and why you’re doing this.
Next I had a fabulous Cuban meal with Bob Bland, founder and CEO of Manufacture NY. Manufacture NY is a fashion incubator / factory hybrid doing incredible, ground-breaking things for independent designers. Launched partially from a successful Indiegogo campaign, Manufacture NY is striving to have a vertically-integrated factory with everything an emerging designer would need – a sampling room, areas for experimentation with dyes and finishes, and a state-of-the-art computer lab for design and production. Bob’s drive and knowledge of the industry are essential assets to Manufacture NY, which was largely born out of her own experience as a small designer. She has an incredible vision and I cannot wait to see the great things she does in the future.
On Tuesday I got to spend a good amount of time learning the ropes of the trade show with Tara St James, who is a natural teacher, an amazing designer, and an all-around genuine person. Tara knew this was my first trade show and let me follow her around as she spoke with a couple of the vendors. Tara is the owner and designer of Study NY, a high-concept brand produced primarily in New York City. She was also the former creative director of Covet and fashion director and production manager of the Uniform Project, among other things. I am completely indebted to her for letting me be her shadow as Tara is a pro at questioning vendors –about where the fibers are sourced, what type of minimums they have, what their certifications are, etc. My conversation with Tara also reminded me of how naïve Redress Raleigh can be at times due to being far removed from some of the realities of this industry – particularly the domestic manufacturing and sustainability aspects of the field. (More on that in a future post….)
On Wednesday I was overjoyed to spend some time with Dr Sam Moore and Malinda Salter of Hohenstein Institute. Hohenstein Institute is an independent research and testing facility for the textile sector and has been very supportive of Redress Raleigh. I also greatly enjoyed Dr Moore’s Sustainability in Textiles class at NC State and Malinda was a classmate during my master’s program. Dr Moore and Malinda always seem to be on the forefront of sustainability to me – Hohenstein’s work with the Oeko-Tex certification is elemental to moving forward in this industry and Dr Moore presented a great educational seminar at Texworld about their new STeP initiative. (More on that in a future post as well.) They are also just great fun to be around and I appreciated them treating me as ‘one of the team’ and introducing me to even more fabulous people!
Wednesday evening I had the pleasure of meeting up with Melissa McGraw, who is a time-management wonder – she is doing so many amazing things I kept wondering how she fits it all in! Besides running her own company The Fashion Potential, which is a consulting firm focused on startups looking to launch their business the right way – including tons of insider tips and tricks on how to create a successful brand - she also teaches at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC and is an e-commerce expert. She has incredible experience launching new brands and managing major accounts (Harajuku Lovers and L.A.M.B., Joe’s Jeans, and Nicole Miller, to name a few). Her passion for emerging designers echoes much of Redress’ mission and I think she’ll be a great collaborator for us in the future. I was also grateful for her assuring me that not knowing where Redress Raleigh will be in 5 years is probably not unusual for a brand-new company!
I sincerely appreciate everyone taking time out of their own hectic schedules to chat with me. I am inspired by the amount of talent and experience and energy that all these people have – their enthusiasm for initiatives in line with Redress’ vision of being a catalyst for change within the fashion and textiles industry helps me stay energized in working toward our goals.