Countdown to the St Louis Fashion Incubator Project; Submissions end July 14, 2016

Countdown to the St Louis Fashion Incubator Project; Submissions end July 14, 2016

By Robere Lett – Publisher

The countdown is beginning for those aspiring designers interested in being a part of the latest fashion project heralded by the St. Louis Fashion Fund. The two-year intensive program offers emerging designers the tools, connections and guidance to take their businesses to the next level.

I took a few minutes to speak with Incubator Executive Director, Eric Johnson (formerly the “fashion czar” of New York, who served as the Vice President of Fashion and Arts at the city’s Economic Development Corporation) about how the incubator process will work, as well as the hopes for the final outcomes. The esteemed selection panel consists of six world-renown industry leaders, who will make the final selections from the field of entries. The panel includes New York Fashion Week founder Fern Mallis, SCAD School of Fashion Dean Michael Fink, Refinery29 co-founder Christene Barberich, Executive Vice President, Council of Fashion Designers of America (CDFA) Lisa Smilor, CEO, Hilldun Corporation and Chairman, Interluxe Holdings, LLC Gary Wassner, and Co-Founder and Creative Director, Timo Weiland.


Fern Mallis michael-fink-stl-fashion-incubator christene-barberich-stl-fashion-incubator

Fern Mallis                                      Michael Fink                                    Christene Barberich

lisa-smilor-stl-fashion-incubator Garry Wassner timo-weiland-stl-fashion-incubator

Lisa Smailor                                    Gary Wassner                               Timo Weiland


Q: How did you decide on which cities to start with?

A: It was really a group effort between the board members. We looked at many different areas because there are a lot of under-represented cities when it comes to fashion. We looked at local support systems and infrastructures and what could yield a bigger vision nation wide. In general, Detroit’s revitalization has created a buzz and a marketing interest with a new perspective; that caught our attention and thus became our starting point.

Q: The incubator is not necessarily looking at fashion from an educational perspective as in teaching design from beginning to end, correct?

A: No, not strictly from the educational stance. We are looking at more established designers that already have businesses and are trying to build their brands. There will be many educational and learning opportunities throughout the two-year period. We have university accredited partnerships, business plan building, emphasis on economic development, how to build a lasting business, job creation to help create a strong industry, mentoring from companies like MayCo, fashion executives offering extensive knowledge and tips that you can’t get every where when starting a business. We will have 7500 sq. ft. of free studio space, assistance with reasonable apartment rentals that best fit each individual, and monetary stipends for each selected participant. CDFA is providing world class speakers, entrepreneurial and business asset information from the city of St Louis. It is a rich program!

Q: What is the gauge for success for this project?

A: Ultimately to have designers build successful, self-sustaining businesses that are growing in sales and can compete and excel in their local industry and world markets, thus increasing the number of employees and creating economic stability. It will take time even after the incubation; 3-5 years just to make a profit, but with support and due-diligence it can happen.

So for those of you fashionistas and design mavens looking to make your mark in the world of fashion, you have until Thursday, July 14th, 2016 to get your application in for consideration. You can find more information at the following links: or


Special Thanks to Eric Johnson for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions, and for making fashion fun!
Remember, if you decide to throw your hat in the ring, be sure to tell them Haute is… Magazine sent you.

#STLFashionFund  #SaintLouisFashionIncubator

Photos courtesy of the St Louis Fashion Fund


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