Fellow Hoosiers and fashion fans Tiffany Fick and Kayla Turner are launching The Carpentry, a new e-commerce platform building space for independent Black designers and makers.
The site aims to spotlight fashion beyond New York and Los Angeles, a cause echoed in the CFDA Connect initiative recently launched to incorporate regional fashion weeks and organizations.
“We want to bypass the traditional gatekeepers of fashion and showcase designers who are doing really great work but may not have the platform, funding and financing,” said Fick, who is based in Atlanta and is responsible for the buying side, while Turner, who has an apparel merchandising background and is based in Houston, handles operations. Both 32, they are self-funded, buying limited inventory and relying on special order capabilities for now, but hoping to fund raise in future.
“As luxury consumers and Black women, the shopping experience hasn’t been very positive. Whether it’s going into Saks and having to hunt down people to help you, or not being able to find sizes that aren’t Eurocentric, there are some gaps,” Fick said. “We want the community to be able to invest in each other and make smart buying decisions to keep the dollars circulating.”
The entrepreneurs said they were influenced by Beyoncé’s 2020 “Black Is King” visual album, and by her stylist Zerina Akers’ launch of Black Owned Everything, though their idea was in the works prior to that website.
“I’ve been doing Black-owned everything a long time and here in Atlanta it’s easy. Everyone was coming and asking me for resources, so I said, ‘Can’t we turn this into a business?’ It’s shifting the mind-set and saying let’s not necessarily spend that money with Chanel, let’s see what a different side of luxury is,” Fick said.
The Carpentry is launching with a drop model, curating women’s, accessories and home product capsules around storylines. The first is titled “The Rain” after Missy Elliott’s 1997 song, and features a Japanese denim cross waist halter top by L.A. contemporary brand Apartment202, a durag from Chicago-based graphic artist Mia Lee, funky earrings by Cincinnati designer Taylor Nikole, a bra top by New York’s Liberte and more. Prices range from $80 to $650.
“Black people have contributed so much to fashion and are not seen a lot of the time,” she said of the impulse to highlight hip-hop’s influence.
That said, “We would love everyone’s money,” Turner laughed. “It’s not just for Black individuals to know about these Black designers, it’s for all people.”