NEW YORK — Becca McCharen, whose company Chromat designs architecturally inspired swimsuits, took first place in the second Design Entrepreneurs NYC, a free, intensive “mini-MBA” program that teaches emerging New York City-based fashion designers how to operate a successful label. The program is run by the Fashion Institute of Technology and sponsored by New York City Economic Development Corp. McCharen will receive $25,000 to implement her business plan.
The second-place winner, Vasumathi Soundararajan, whose company Ken Wroy Inc., designs men’s underwear, will receive $10,000. Funding for both awards is provided by a financial contribution from G-III Apparel Group.
Some 35 businesses, chosen from 193 applicants, participated in the 2013 program, which was then culled to the top 16. The companies spanned a range of fashion categories, including accessories, shoes, jewelry, children’s wear, men’s apparel and women’s apparel.
“Design Entrepreneurs NYC offers education, opportunity and funding to the city’s emerging designers in order to cultivate talent and build success,” said Kyle Kimball, president of NYCEDC, which contributed $55,000 to the program. “By providing assistance to growing fashion labels, we ensure that New York City will remain at the center of the fashion world.”
This year’s judges included Tim Baxter, executive vice president and general merchandise manager at Macy’s; June Beckstead, vice president, Apparel Design, Sears Holdings Corp.; Jeff Binder, consultant, former divisional merchandise manager, Bloomingdale’s; Richard Chai, founder, Richard Chai and creative design consultant, Andrew Marc; Simon Dallimore, owner-consultant, Dallimore & Co.; Jonathan Duskin, chief executive officer, Macellum Capital Management, and director, Wet Seal; Renaud Dutreil, president, Parsons The New School for Design Paris, and chairman, Brasil Beaute; Morris Goldfarb, ceo, G-III Apparel Group; Joseph Gromek, chairman, New School University Board of Trustees; Nirjhar Jain, managing director, Plus Funding Group; Laurence Leeds Jr., chairman, Buckingham Capital; Ellen Rodriguez, president and ceo, French Connection; Lisa Schultz, executive vice president, Apparel Design, Sears Holdings Corp., and Michael Stanley, managing director, Rosenthal & Rosenthal.
“FIT is proud to partner with the NYCEDC and G-III for the second year of this innovative program,” said Joyce F. Brown, president of FIT. “We are particularly grateful to G-III for enhancing this year’s program with a generous gift. Because FIT offers career-oriented education on both the design and business sides of the fashion industry, the college is an ideal environment in which to host Design Entrepreneurs NYC — a cornerstone of the mayor’s initiative to ensure that New York City remains the fashion capital of the world. DENYC gives our City’s creative talent the tools that will allow them to flourish.”
To participate, designers are required to operate New York City-based companies that have been in business for at least one year.
The program kicked off with an orientation at G-III’S offices in May, followed by three intensive weekends of instruction in June. The designers then spent the summer formalizing their business plans with the help of mentors and networking sessions. In August, they attended a business plan and pitch practice session to help them hone their business plans and oral presentations.