Timothy Joo, Daniel Joo, Jaime Barker and Megan Balch


NEW YORK — The Fashion Institute of Technology and New York City Economic Development Corp. revealed the winners Thursday night of the fifth class of Design Entrepreneurs NYC, a free, intensive “mini-MBA” program that teaches emerging New York-based fashion designers how to run a successful label.

After 12 finalists presented their business plans, Haerfest, a leather accessories line founded by brothers Timothy and Daniel Joo, was selected as the winning company. The company will receive $100,000 to implement its business plan. Haerfest is sold to stores such as Club Monaco, Opening Ceremony and Steven Alan, as well as its own web site.

Megan Balch and Jaime Barker of Flagpole, a swimwear and athletic wear brand, received the second-place prize of $50,000 to implement their business plan. The 2016 second place award was provided by Michael Gold, president of YM, Inc., in honor of his father, Israel Goldgrub. Flagpole is available at such stores as Barneys New York, Net-a-porter, Saks Fifth Avenue, Lane Crawford, The Apartment by the Line and their own web site, flagpoleswim.com. The company recently forged a collaboration with Oscar de la Renta.

“DENYC has been amazing,” said Daniel Joo. “In New York City, you’re on the grind every day and you’re so focused on the little things that sometimes you forget to look at the big picture. DENYC gave us the opportunity to really step back and evaluate our business. It gave us a chance to connect with mentors with years of experience who really know what they’re doing.” Haerfest plans to use its prize money primarily on digital marketing.

Flagpole’s Barker said one of the biggest things she and her business partner gained from the program was being able to connect with the 24 brands that participated. “We can talk about the same problems, work together and have potential collaboration. We never thought we would be able to do that,” she said. Flagpole plans to use its prize money toward digital marketing and influencer collaborations.

DENYC was created through a partnership between NYCEDC and FIT in 2011. Twenty four companies, who were selected from a pool of 246 applicants, participated in the Class of 2016. Now in its fifth year, alumni include David Hart, Becca McCharen, Cadet and Abasi Rosborough. DENYC courses focus on marketing, public relations, operations and financial management for the fashion industry.

The panel of judges included Steven Alan, founder and chief executive officer of Steven Alan Cos.;  Tim Baxter, chief merchandising officer of Macy’s; Jean Marc Bellaiche, senior vice president, strategy and business development at Tiffany & Co.; Kara Council, chief brand officer, Kenneth Cole Productions; Abbey Doneger, president, Henry Doneger Associates; Morris Goldfarb, ceo of G-III Apparel Group; Jonathan Goldman, chairman and ceo of Scott Kay Inc.; Richard Kay, copresident, Herman Kay Co., Inc.; Adrianne Kirszner, head of global planning, Coach; Adrienne Lazarus, ceo, The Frye Co.; Laurence C. Leeds Jr., chairman of Buckingham Capital Management; Andy Oshrin, president and ceo of Milly; Thomas Ott, senior vice president and general merchandise manager at Saks Fifth Avenue; Liz Rodbell, president, Hudson’s Bay Co., and Rachael Wagner, managing director, Atairos.

Through the leadership of founding sponsor G-III, companies that support the program include YM Fashions, Hudson’s Bay Co., Herman Kay Co., Kenneth Cole Productions, Bank of America, Cole Haan, Henry Doneger Associates, HSBC Bank, Lafayette 148, Leeds Family Foundation, Lela Rose, Marcraft Apparel Group, Ross Stores and Scott Kay Inc.

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