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CFDA Launches Business Services Network

The Council of Fashion Designers of America will have more than one reason to celebrate today.

NEW YORK — The Council of Fashion Designers of America will have more than one reason to celebrate today.

The CFDA, which is welcoming 30 new members with a fete at the DVF Studio tonight, is also inaugurating the CFDA Business Services Network, which offers members benefits intended to help them and their businesses, including connecting them with key industry executives.

The network is the first major initiative from CFDA president Diane von Furstenberg, who has been vocal about increasing the benefits for members and building a resource network since she took over last October.

“I thought it was very important to create a support network,” von Furstenberg said. “I thought it would be nice to have corporations being able to get involved in the CFDA to some degree.”

To set up the network, the CFDA brought in Rachel Schechtman as director of strategic partnerships in January. Schechtman also has her own consulting firm, Cube Ventures, which focuses on marketing, merchandising and business development.

The network is divided into three segments: Corporate Affiliates, Partnership Perks and Job Desk.

The Corporate Affiliates division consists of businesses that can join and offer CFDA members special initiatives. In turn, their participation will give the companies access to CFDA members and events, as well as the chance to host and participate in roundtable discussions, and access to sponsorship opportunities. The inaugural Corporate Affiliates are: CB Richard Ellis Retail Services Group, Designers & Agents, J.C. Penney, Karen Harvey Consulting Group, Lord & Taylor, North American Fur Association, Saks Fifth Avenue and Zwinky. For example, D&A will offer two CFDA-branded booths at its trade shows, allowing qualifying designers to display their works, and Penney’s will host two open-call events a year in New York where CFDA members can pitch their ideas for exclusive collections.

The Partnership Perks program focuses on discount and donation initiatives, allowing businesses to work with CFDA members through special offers, including direct discounts. Participants are: Fashion GPS, Panjiva, FedEx, W Hotels Worldwide, Assouline Books, Belle Fleur Florist, First Corporate Car Service, A to Z Couriers Inc., Madame Paulette, Music Express Car Service and Brentwood Royal Cleaners. The perks include a 19 percent discount on FedEx domestic and international shipping.

This story first appeared in the July 30, 2007 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Lastly, Job Desk is an online resource that helps CFDA members find freelance or full-time job opportunities, while corporate affiliates can contact members by posting their open opportunities online.

“This is an online resource that initially will be available just to CFDA members, and we will eventually open it to students as well and graduates,” Schechtman said. To better service the new business network, the CFDA recently redesigned its Web site, cfda.com.